So how does a mesh of Thatcherism, dub reggae and a bunch of angry people pave the way for Brit hop?
We open Pandoraâ€™s box and reveal a whole bunch of theories from this article onwards as we review the social problems amongst British youths of the era. We look at how reggae and hip hop gave birth to a multitude of Brit hop sub genres including techno, jungle, garage, drum nâ€™ bass, trip hop and grime.
The eighties saw British citizens fall into being products of Thatcherism: The struggles in employment, education, lack of social activity and racial injustice which had been experienced by the Windrush generation and beyond, opened doors for hip hop in the UK.
That combined with the â€˜SUS lawsâ€™ which allowed police to stop and search and member of public without reason, acted as a catalyst for racial discrimination. Various inner city groups decided to fight back and thus, the Handsworth riots in Birmingham (Summer 1981 and 1985), Brixton Riots (April 1981) and Toxteth Riots (July 1981) began.
At the time, Reggae, Dub Reggae and Lovers Rock were the Black British equivalents to hip hop, but its uncanny how closely linked the genres were and how both forms went on to create the fore mentioned sub cultures of Brit hop. Itâ€™s as though Kool Hercâ€™s experience of reggae and eventually hip hop was with the Brits all along!
With the British Empire being a â€˜melting potâ€™ in comparison to that of the US â€˜salad bowlâ€™, musical influence came from across the globe and is evident in Brit hop music.
In time, Brit hop and electro were becoming more frequent by way of Street Sounds Electro UK (Street Sounds, 1984), produced by Greg Willson featuring MC Kermit, who eventually participated in the formation of the group Ruthless Rap Assassins; The Rapologists â€˜Kids Rap/Party Rapâ€™ (Billy Boy, 1984); DJ Richie Rich's "Don't Be Flash" (Spin Offs, 1985).However, despite minute success, Brit hop was still being suppressed underground. However, a combination pirate radio stations around the country, kept the heart of the new found culture pumping. DJs s Dave Pearce, Tim Westwood, and John Peel played Brit hop on main stream stations which paved the way for it to be heard by commercial ears.
In 1989 Brit hop developed other elements of its culture such as print media; â€˜Hip Hop Connectionâ€™ magazine was the first creation. It glorified not only the well established Rappers in London such as Blade, Black Radical MK II and Overload X, but also those in other regions such as Manchesterâ€™s Ruthless Rap Assassins, Krispy 3, the Kaliphz and MC Tunes, Bristolâ€™s Massive Attack from Bristol, Smith and Mighty and the Scratch Perverts- fathers of Trip hop.
Much like Hip Hop, Brit hop took on its own style of dichotomy via fusing the influences of Jamaican patios, cockney rhyming slam and other regional idioms and fine art: The fashion, scratching, breaking and tagging were still greatly influenced by the USA, but still conveyed meanings relevant to UK youthâ€™s.
Later, Slick Rick, Monie Love and other Brit- born artists moved to America to for success (or the â€˜The American Dreamâ€™).On the surface this may seem unjust, but one cannot avoid questioning whether bringing both Brit hop and hip hop to the mainstream, was a successful mountain conquered or a violent volcano errupting and melting away its authenticity?
Let me know what you think by posting your comments. Join me next week when Iâ€™ll be elaborating on the idea of hip hop art becoming an industry changed the culture completelyâ€¦or did it?
Nadia Gasper x