Sunday, 10 June 2007

Collabo Connections #1 - Blade

Here begins a series which after some thought I realise could run for a long time. Collaborations and rap go hand in hand. There are few rap albums out there that don’t feature a cameo from another rapper or group. Some artists rely on paying a bigger rapper to help them either launch or revive their career. Other artists have the insight that fans want to hear two (or more) of their favourite MCs together on one track. Often collaborations are frowned upon for the first of the above reasons but I would be so bold to say that without them the rap world would be slightly boring at times.

There is no reason for starting this thread off with this artist other than I wanted to write a post on him anyway. Whilst meditating a post on Blade I realised he had worked with many other artists who in turn have worked with other artists, and so on. Then (slightly influenced also by ‘Comedy Connections’ off the telly and maybe my mums obsession with family trees) I came up with the idea of creating a string of posts that map out who’s worked with who and how hip hop eventually links up into one big family.

Growing up in Yorkshire and being born in 1984 means I missed out on all of Blade’s earlier work. I haven’t yet had a chance to familiarise myself with his back catalogue it so most of this post will be focussing on his work following Mark B and Blade fame.

In 1989 Blade released ‘Lyrical Maniac’, his first official single (go here for more info). In 1997 during depression he released ‘Rhyme Bomb’ (go here for more info).

2001 saw Mark B and Blade being played on Radio 1 with their track ‘The Unknown’ and then ‘Ya don’t see the signs’. The former was released with, amongst others, a remix featuring France’s premier rap collective; Saian Supa Crew. The latter hit the airwaves in the form of a rocky remix by Grant Nicholas of Feeder and frankly rock and rap rarely sounds this good together. The album, also entitled ‘The Unknown’ featured collaborations with Rodney P, Lewis Parker, Skinnyman, Chester P and Westwood (!).

In 2002 Blade reared his head on Lewis Parker’s ‘It’s all Happening Now’ on ‘The Chase pt. 1’.

Blade’s next big move was in 2004 with the release of ‘Storms are Brewing’, an album on which he collaborated with only session musicians and DJ’s, he produced and wrote it all himself. The flip to the single ‘Reflection’ was ‘Soldiers’, a track featuring Life (of Phi-Life Cypher) and Respek BA.

2005 was Baby J’s year in the UK and Blade was making moves with this modern superproducer. He appeared on J’s excellent album F.T.P. on Mumps (also featuring Laurissa). This hook up obviously worked so well that Blade decided Baby J would produce his entire second album, my personal favourite being the excellent ‘UK Hip Hop’, a track with which Blade hopes to educate people about the roots of rap in Great Britain simply by name checking all the greats (note – I’m not going to use that fact to make tenuous links to all and sundry in Brit Hop!).

2005 also brought us a solo album from The Scratch Perverts DJ First Rate. Blade cooked up a feast on the tasty ‘Hamburger’; a semi-hilarious ode to eating fast food on tour.

Blade has worked hard for decades now so please go buy some of his music if you do like what you have heard. Visit his website and go to the store.

I’m sure you’ll agree there are many roads I can now take and I shall endeavour to explore all of them. I’m pretty sure I’ll get quite confused on the way and we’ll see how truly intertwined the web of the hip hop spider is.

If, during any of this series, you have tracks and collabos to add then feel free to leave comments or drop me a line. I’ll gladly add them to expand the wealth of knowledge available here!

Blade - Lyrical maniac.mp3
Blade - Rhyme bomb.mp3
First Rate - Hamburger ft. Blade.mp3
Blade - Soldiers ft. Life & Respek BA.mp3
Lewis Parker - The Chase pt.1 ft. Blade.mp3
Mark B and Blade - The Unknown ft .Saian Supa Crew.mp3
Blade - UK Hip Hop.mp3

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