"While wondering what I could possibly list as "influences," I kept returning to the idea of collating a mix of hip-hop. I’ve listened to this music since I was a kid and thinking back, it was the first music I came across that I could describe as having the feeling of "elsewhere"—a sense of place that didn’t exist in other music I was exposed to at the time.
But I don’t DJ it or play it out other than at home or on headphones while travelling. I am mindful of the fact my perspective on it is that of an outsider—I don’t come from where this music was born and I don’t propose to understand the struggle it came from; there is also a very real problematic history of appropriation of this music, and I can't ignore the dialectic collision of white voyeurism/white gaze, and if the idea of "influences" can be said to be more than just a production style or whatever, then hip- hop has encouraged me to have a critical approach to my own listening practices.
It’s with that in mind that I’ve put together this mix of tracks and edits. I went back and listened again and again to the stuff I’ve loved—mainly from the early to late '90s. I’ve continued to listen to hip-hop as it has mutated and re-formed and I’m still listening to what’s happening with the genre now, but for this mix, I wanted to keep the feel of it to the era that undoubtedly influenced the younger me.
I remember a bunch of kids in my area of Birmingham, a bit older than me, aspiring b-boys I suppose—think Mongoose BMX’s, lino, Farah Trousers, Fila, Lacoste Jumpers, a Boombox. I had a football and they offered to lend me a tape they were playing for a loan of my ball. That tape was Street Sounds—Hip Hop Electro 11 and I didn’t have a clue what it was, but one track, in particular, took hold of my young brain. Roxanne Shante’s "Def Fresh Crew" was like nothing I’d ever heard at that point. My access to music up until then was mostly via my Dad’s collection and national radio stations / TV. This track was set in some place, with a crowd of people and they weren’t singing about love lost in some pop vacuum.
One particular thing that it held for me was its poetics. It’s ability to describe a place, a situation, a street etc.. My interest in radiophonic arts, musique concréte, electronic music, techno, jungle, grime etc. came later, but thinking in retrospect, like radiophonics, hip-hop also plays with the idea of a ‘Cinéma Pour L’Oreille' —especially on a track like this Shante one, with its looped crowd noise giving it a hyperrealistic sense of place. This is the first track in the mix.
The mix itself is made of edits of mixtapes, skits, radio shows and some individual tracks from around these years, so I guess it’s more of a collage (in the radiophonic/concrete sense) than a conventional mix." - Lee Gamble