Sunday, 21 March 2010
Rough in Hackney
"This is not New York. This is England ..." I suspect that on his debut LP, Weapon Is My Lyric, when Overlord X stated that it was Rough In Hackney he wasn't simply making a statement about how tough life can be in that particular London borough. It's likely he was referring to UK hip hop artists forging their own identities in the late 1980s, and how the sound he was creating was as hard-hitting as anything coming from the East Coast or West Coast of America. It was a theme he would return to on his second LP with the track You Can't Do That In London which seems to be a bit of a dig at NWA and their way of carrying-on. One of the first breaks for Overlord X came via a session for John Peel at the end of 1987. He'd record another the following year, and his debut single 14 Days In May made number 28 in the Peel Show 1988 Festive 50. When John's name is invoked by campaigners for this and that, it seems to be forgotten exactly what he used to play. He was certainly one of the important outlets for UK hip hop acts like Overlord X, Cookie Crew and Silver Bullet. I can even remember hearing him play 14 Days In May and being blown away by the raw power, which is not something you could say for a lot of music in 1988.