Photographed on the way back from getting chips one Friday a few months ago. Original artwork by: http://brokenfingaz.com/
2012: Setting the scene. Last week someone called up at work asking for a number for a label I deal with on a weekly basis. While I was looking for it, the caller started asking me about what was selling, how they used to have a big collection of records. Then they said they used to be a rapper. “Oh yeah” I asked, “what name did you record under?”
“Blade” was their reply. “No way!” was mine.
Here was the gig I reviewed 11 years ago…
MARK B & BLADE @ The Mean Fiddler, London 24/01/01
Re-located from the meaner streets of Harlesden, the Mean Fiddler has replaced the LA2 on Charing Cross Road, the scene of the nights revolution. And with ‘The Unknown’ getting heavy rotation on every show short of Radio 2, Mark B & Blade are in the building for a hostile takeover.
Warming up the pre-fight beers are the Mixologists, your average turntablists who are cutting everything up from KRS 1 getting digital with Goldie to the slightly worrying refrains of ‘when the crowd say bo! Selecta’. Slight technical hitches don’t prevent them getting the crowd worked up ready, teasing us all with the stabs of ‘Simon Says’ and other gems from the past and present.
Next up Phi Life Cypher step it up a gear, throwing it down hard despite their plea for food and money as they “ain’t eaten for 8 days”. These herbalists know how to rock the crowd and their humour and free-style section is one of the highlights of the night. “I can see clearly now the crack smokes gone. Its gonna be a bright – bright weed smoking day” is their message to all the crack heads out there.
Human beatbox and the host for the evening Killa Kela, must go down on record as the loudest performance of the night. Alongside DJ Plus One the beats rain down from his mouth and its definitely heavy artillery all round. Not too sure about the singing though! Plus One cuts it up nicely as the crowd wait for the main bout.
Its taken along time but finally Mark B and Blade are here. Opening up with ‘From The Word Lab’ even initial turntable problems for Mark can’t dampen the high spirits on stage. “I can’t believe we get this, on the most important night of my life!” Blade calls, asking for the assistance of Kela once more. But we’re back on. Alongside Plus One the duo rock the crowd with the likes of ‘One Shark One Piranha’, ‘Hostile Takeover’ (minus Westwood), ‘Ya Don’t See The Signs’ and for ‘The Long Awaited’ Skinnyman joins in the mayhem on stage.
“You gonna catch me?” Blade asks before jumping into the crowd for some surfing.
Back on stage its the turn of his son to do the same. “My boy saw a video of me surfing and he wants a go” cries Blade before his son goes surfing not once but about 3 times, finishing off the first time with a demand to throw Lucozade (before dad steps in with the water) on the crowd.
Before ‘Ya Don’t See The Signs’ Blade demands a “memory I can take to the grave” and after, sitting up on the decks he confesses to getting a bit emotional with the crowds reaction, and why not. The past support slots from everyone from KRS1 to Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine are over and the hard work have paid off.
“Man I’ve been waiting for that response for 12 years” shouts Blade as the crowd show their appreciation, “Maybe I won’t have to sign on every other week now.” The biggest response is of course to ‘The Unknown’ that hopefully should have dented the Top 75 before you read this. Finishing with the ‘Survival Of The Hardest Working,’ its nearly 10 years since the release of the LP of the same name, the fan financed records and Blade and company are definitely loving every minute of it.
Like Blade states through out the evening its a truly great moment for UK hip hop and the start of something bigger. Taskforce round off the night as the cream of the UK scene stand together on one stage. The atmosphere on and off stage is amazing and the venue has sold out showing the possibilities of the what can be achieved if the mainstream press and radio start supporting the home grown talent.
Like The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club, Mark B & Blade at the Mean Fiddler 24/01/01 will be one of the gigs where the amount of people to say they attended, in years to come, will easily exceed the actual capacity of the venue. “Yeah I was there in ’77 or ’88 might easily be replaced with “yeah I was there in 2001”.
Words: Des Berry
Listen: Mark B & Blade – The Unknown
Interview: Karime Kendra
Date: December 2000
Location: The Pharmarcy, Notting Hill Gate, London
Words / interview: Des Berry
Photo: Dan King
2012: Setting the scene . I thought I would add a few more things from the “archives”. So here is the first of a few old bits. I really cannot remember anything about this interview other then it was at The Pharmarcy.
You might have seen her name and heard her voice alongside many a tune or read about her recent work with Red Snapper, but there is more to Karime Kendra then just another collaborator. Wrestling, strip joints and Roni Size puking in a bucket are just a few of the secrets to tell about this diva in waiting.
We’re in The Pharmacy, Damian Hirst’s restaurant in Notting Hill. There are no dead sheep hanging around, don’t worry. In fact its pretty dead and an ideal place to start spreading those secrets. The only trouble is every person coming in seems to be an old friend of Karime’s. “I actually used to work in here, but I had to stop. If I worked here I couldn’t party here.” Priorities, I like it.
Coming from LA five years ago after getting a deal with Talkin’ Loud, people kept calling her to fly over to the UK and work on various projects. Finally it made sense to settle in London. With subsequent changes at the label Karime fell victim to the usual release date stalling. But with fresh label backing and ideas we’re about ready to hear a new solo LP.
“I’ve been involved with so many projects.” Damn right. Everyone from the likes of Outside, Unsung Heroes, Landslide and Nigo have been touched by the hand of Kendra. However don’t go thinking that Karime is just another session singer.
“After the success of a track I did with DJ Die in ’97 everyone expects me to be drum ‘n’ bass diva. Even though I could have been financially better off I didn’t want to be another session singer. With the people I work with there is a mutual respect of each others previous work.”
“On the new Red Snapper LP there are two songs I co-wrote. One is the ‘Rough & The Quick’ and the other is ‘Shellpack'(?) Both are very different songs with the ‘Rough & the Quick’ being about sex.”
Right. “Yeah the lyrics go like this.. ‘Come on my tongue – lick my clit – rub a little bit of your spit – thats it’…the chorus, ‘I want the kind of night that I read about – you know the ones you find on the top shelf.’
With valentines day around the corner its definitely a song for the more romantics of people out there, then? Eat ya heart out 2 Live Crew!
Believe it or not Karime was an introvert as a kid. Growing up in a family where the mother was a successful Northern Soul singer and the father a producer, Karime’s voice was seen as squeaky and the least expected to follow the musical path.
“My break came when my agent heard me singing when I was wrestling”. What alongside the likes of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and some Saturday afternoon World of Sport tag team special?
“It was on American TV, but it was a show called Powerful Women of wrestling. No mud or anything like that. There were always the really cute looking girls. That was me! We were the smaller ones, quite sexy. Then there were big burly manly women like Matilda the Hun who at 6ft tall would eat raw meat. My name was Destiny. Initially I was a bad girl, but I turned against my tag team partner ‘Hot Rod Andy’ and became a good girl, a heroine.”
“I used to do the moves where you would jump on their shoulders and they would get pissed off so they fall backwards and drop you down. My left rib still clicks due to an injury and I’ve scratches under my eye.”
“I had an agent who said why don’t you do that, get used to doing auditions. I was athletic. I thought hell that would be cool. Make a grand a week. Get on TV. Do my thing. I’m gonna be a star anyway. So this could be the way. When you’re an entertainer you cut your teeth on whatever. I then sang one day and my boss heard me singing in the ring. After that I did backing vocals on a Herb Albert LP and then I really got a taste for it.”
So do any of the moves ever come in handy?
“When Ed (of Scenario Records and Karime’s man) is annoying me, we move the tables away, take off our rings and watches and I say, Ed, I’m gonna kick you ass.”
Even with the work coming in back in those early days in the UK Karime still had to fall back on other skills between studio time.
“I worked as a waitress at the Windmill club in Piccadilly, London. A strip joint. I was in there for 2 nights as a waitress, but I decided it was not the place for me. Like, I’ve seen strippers, but these women, fingers going everywhere and I’m like whoa. I realised I couldn’t get a tip. Because why give me a tip, while the girls are giving up the whole beaver show!”
Karime’s musical influences come from her family background, a love of female vocalists like Gladys Knight, Roberta Flak, Chrissie Hynde and Mary J Blige. Writers like Elton John and entertainers like Madonna and Michael Jackson.
“When I’m on stage I’m an entertainer. With the Red Snapper shows the front person needs to be full on.”
Recent sell out performances with the band will back that statement up.
“It was really wicked on stage. When the first stabs of the Rough & The Quick came on in Holland, I made a little joke about the women telling me that the men hadn’t been doing it right there. They hadn’t been satisfying them in bed. And the men cried “No its not true!’ and I replied, ‘well if it wasn’t true i wouldn’t have had to write this song’. They knew the song and started screaming. It was just the best time.”
Okay, so finally what’s all this about sickboy Roni?
“Well I’m old mates with Roni Size, Die & Krust and we (Red Snapper) were playing alongside them. It was also Roni & Die’s birthdays. So that night we just parted so hard. We were drinking champagne and smoking before the show. So then we both go and rock our crowd. They were nervous because I was there, but I was nervous because they were there. You can perform to thousands of people, but when you’ve got friends and family there its worse.
It was a great show and then we just partied! Champagne, blunts, tequila. Then Roni got so fucked he was puking in a bucket. He had to be carried out to the bus! First it was cool, Roni puked a bit and then suddenly he’s sitting on the floor. Luckily I turned my head and I see him about to heave again, getting him a bucket just in time.”
Sounds like a top night. True rock ‘n’ roll excess, but one you might want kept secret maybe? At least for Roni’s sake.
“Please put that in, but say Karime loves you Roni and Die. Happy Birthday, belated, but I had to tell that story cause it fuckin’ happened!! Roni puking in a bucket! Ha, Ha!”
Originally published in Breakin’ Point 05.02 March 2001
Following the sad news of Kenny Hawkes passing last Friday, I thought I would post a couple of flyers from the achive. From early 1998, Space @ Bar Rhumba.
Listen: Kenny Hawkes – Play The Game
Maybe it was the hangover from the night out before (and the morning of the day) celebrating my birthday, but Moby at the Roundhouse was very, very disappointing. Should I really have expected anything else? Maybe not. This is after all a rather dull man who makes rather mundane music, that more than often gets used to promote mundane products aimed at mundane people and their mundane lifestyles.
The audience was very much that “look, we’ve paid out on a babysitter so we’re gonna let our hair down tonight right” crowd. The type of person who maybe has a couple of these “dance” acts on their i-Pod. Filed alongside Groove Armada, Faithless and put on a playlist that’s good to work out to at the gym or jog to etc.
I’m no longer a fan of Moby as you can see. Maybe 15 – 20 years ago there was some appeal, but so much as moved on since that his sound is irrelevant. I don’t even know what that sound is. On the night it varied from poppy dance music, of a kind you would play at a 8 year old’s party to weak acid jazz and a horrible cover of ‘Whole Lotta Love.’
Also when a performer is reduced to taking photos of the audience (rather then blasting their minds) throughout the encore you know things are not right.
Lets remember this and only this from Moby…