Evil Ed Interview – Part Two
In part one of his interview with 25ThC, Evil Ed discussed his album, The Enthusiast, which is now available digitally for the first time at his Bandcamp page. In this second-half of the interview, he discusses a number of records that have been inspirational to him throughout his career:
Tommy Boy – Greatest Beats – Various Artists (1985)
I had this on cassette in 1985 and it was one of the first tapes I had back then. It’s just a classic compilation with a classic cover of three guys breakin’. I was well into breakdancing back then. I couldn’t do it despite attempting it a few times but I just loved watching it. I probably just taped it off somebody, as you did back then. Well no actually, I remember owning the tape with the cover so I probably just bought it from my local record shop. It’s such a classic compilation because it’s got “Planet Rock” by Africa Bambatta which I had the 12″. “Play at your own risk” by Planet Patrol, “Jazzy sensation” by Africa Bambatta, “Pat Jam” by Johnson Crew, Salsa Surf “Special Request” and “Play That Beat “by Globe and Whizz Kid which is a classic, cut-up DJ sort of track.
This was one of my first tastes of hip-hop from a classic label – Tommy Boy Records. At the time I didn’t know anyone who was a DJ or making beats. Kids at school had the Street Sounds Electro albums. It was mainly compilation albums back then as we were like 12-years-old so weren’t buying 12″ records or import albums. I remember getting Planet Rock on 12″ at that time and maybe a couple of others. The tapes would kind of circulate around the school and we would all borrow and lend them to each other. It was quite a big trend back then breakin’ and quite a few of the kids had the tapes. I remember one guy had the biggest ghetto blaster I’ve every seen and he used to bring it down the park. We used to hang out at a bridge, not like Queens Bridge or anything, just like a bridge in Leyton Buzzard! This ghetto blaster had detachable speakers and they were huge. We used to blast these kind of albums and electro albums and some older kids would come down with tapes of import hip-hop records that they had bought that we had never heard of, so we got to hear lots of new tunes. Around that time – 1985 – I discovered Mike Allen on Capital Radio and started listening to his show. By the time this compilation came out a lot of the tunes were already a couple of years old so I was already backtracking to 1982/83. It was a good introduction to hip-hop.
Funkadelic – “Uncle Jam Wants You” (1979)
This is one of the first breaks I owned. My dad bought a copy of this from the local library as they were having a clear-out of some of their albums. He bought it home and I was really heavily into hip-hop by then. This was about 1986 and I didn’t know much about the actual breaks. I was into Run-DMC and it was all drum machines and bass-lines. Sampling was just kind of taking off around ’86. I didn’t know any of the breaks at the time but this one has the break from De La Soul – “Me Myself and I”. That tune wouldn’t come out for a couple of years after I’d heard it and my dad actually said to me “This is where your music all comes from. This is the original!” I think at the time I couldn’t quite see how that fitted in as I liked the music but I didn’t really understand about the breaks so much.
At the time I was into Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, obviously all the old electro stuff like Africa Bambatta and the classic electro but I wasn’t really listening to the original breaks, the funk and soul stuff. I discovered all of that in 1986 along with the Ultimate Beats and Breaks albums when they started coming out and discovering all the originals like “Apache” and “The Champ” and all that sort of stuff. De La Soul sampled “(Not Just) Knee Deep” off the album but no-one would have even thought of sampling that back in 1986 so its kind of ahead of its time. When I heard the De La Soul album a couple of years later it all kind of clicked and I thought “I’ve got the original break!”.
Hijack – “Style Wars” (1988)
This is one of my top 5 UK Hip-Hop tracks. By 1988 I was spending a lot of time in Bluebird Records in Luton buying a lot of import 12″ and albums like LL Cool J, Ultramagnetic MC’s, Big Daddy Kane and all that sort of stuff. Then one day I was in there and this record turned up. Something from the UK. I had bought UK tunes before that but this was really hardcore compared to them. It was something different and had a really unique British sound to it. Released on the legendary Music of Life label and I was buying records on the same label by Derek B probably a year before this came out. This was really different and blew me away. Just the artwork and the sound of it was uncompromising and it was kind of the forefather of Britcore hip hop.
There were quite a few British acts back then and I had a really good video called Electro Rock which had loads of UK artists on there and some real old school ones like Dizzy Heights, Junior G, City Limits Crew and also London Posse who were making their early records back then. There was quite a bit of British stuff and a lot of the MC’s were still sounding quite American and the beats were copying the US sound. This track was very different. The real important thing was that the scratching was out of this world. DJ Supreme and DJ Undercover just killed it basically. They are still up there with any DJ worldwide as pioneers of scratching.
It’s an absolute classic British tune and I would never part with it. When I got my album, The Enthusiast, mastered by Alan Mawdsley, Kamanchi Sly from Hijack was in the studio and heard the Lost Souls track off the album and he was nodding his head to it. It was a real kind of blessing to have a legend like that like what I was doing and to me a bit of a Hip Hop Hero.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “Mecca and the Soul Brother” (1992) & Gangstar – “Hard to Earn” (1993)
Two albums here both absolute classics. I could have picked up any Gangstar album really! Pete Rock even signed my copy of this. I was DJing before him in Cambridge many years ago and I took that to get it signed, It was amazing as I had just finished DJing and Pete Rock got on the same decks I’d been on. I wasn’t worthy really. Pete Rock and Primo are my two favourite producers ever, so thats why I went for these two records. “Hard to Earn” came out at a good time for me in 1994. I had my first record ever out back then the “Hidden Identity EP.” I was listening to a lot of radio and in particular Max & Dave on Kiss Fm, and Tim Westwood who was still on Capital back then. I love all of that stuff from 1994 that Primo produced. I could have pulled out Nas “Illmatic” but its such an obvious album.
It was about the time I really started to get into DJing as well. 1994/95 I moved up to Manchester and was DJing around there with a guy called Digit my friend Glen and we were playing loads of this kind of stuff. Anything produced by Premier and Pete Rock. I was DJing at pubs, bars and the occasional club. I don’t think we did many support slots for live acts, like happens now. It was really hard trying to get hip-hop nights off the ground back then. We tried to do a few of our own but it was hard trying to promote it and get people in to hear that kind of hip-hop that we played. In 1994, jungle was really taking off and you could put on a jungle night and the place would be rammed. The Hacienda was still open then and they were doing jungle night and all the Manchester clubs were booking Jungle DJs. There were a few students doing hip-hop nights and we tried to do a few and some were successful. We used to get all of our records from Fat City in Manchester when it was in Afflecks Palace and there were just so many records. Back then, DJ Premier was producing so many albums that are now classic including Jeru the Damaja and Group Home and all those records.
Melanin 9 – “Magna Carta” (2012)
This is on his own label. I haven’t got any beats on there but I am scratching up/doing the cuts on the track “Landslide.” I’ve been doing a lot of cuts for people recently. People have started coming to me for their scratches now so I must have improved a bit over the years! I really like this album. The artwork is great. I love the image of the guy sitting inside of his head writing lines. It has loads of wicked beats and I think Jehst produced one of the tracks as did Hey Zeus, who I really rate.
There is a lot of UK rap that comes out now which is alright and a lot of it goes straight onto YouTube or Bandcamp or Soundcloud but for someone to actually make a double album and get it pressed up and for it to be high quality is quite rare now. All the tunes are just amazing. Roc Marciano does a guest verse on there. I’ve been doing quite a few bits with Triple Darkness the crew that M9 is with. Loads of cuts for them and I really like what they are doing. Straight up UK hip-hop, no nonsense type raps. When I play out now when I do sets of UK hip-hop this is one of the newer sort of things I put in the set and he’s got a few 12″ out as well. I love playing his music its just high quality UK rap and to me this kind of follows on from the Hijack record I discussed earlier in that kind of line of UK hip-hop. This is like the ancestor of Hijack and UK hip-hop and he’s one of my favourite UK artists at the moment.
Evil Ed Interview by 25ThC