Disco Scratch

History

Born in Farnborough, Hampshire UK, longest day of the year, June 21st, 1972.  As far as I’m concerned I 

could not have been born at a better time.  Earlier and I might be too into birds to be bothered with Hip Hop.  Later and I might not have been mesmorised by Grandmaster Flash.

I grew up in Fire Service houses here and there in the Portsmouth area in the South of the UK, moving from Farnborough to Aldershot, Winchester and then Alton, a small originally farming town.  I was just like any other kid from that time.  Pre Hip Hop, obsessed with Star Wars and nothing else!

Somehow Hip Hop and Star Wars have always had an allegiance, with loads of records citing words and phrases from the film, and some raps dedicated to Star Wars.  Disco Scratch will soon be presenting a Star Wars special, showing the influences of the film to Hip Hop, and to my own life, with short interviews and input from people of the same generation.

Anyway, Alton was an average mix of middle class white people pretty much the same as anywhere else I knew at the time.  We knew about making dens in the disused railway line, blowing up Stormtroopers with bangers (not our own obviously, those which were “donated” by others!, eating 10p mix ups and having summers that just did not end.  Some of the posh kids had grifters, and the bigger kids had Bombers.  One Christmas I woke up to see a new bike in my dad’s garage for me.  It was a grifter copy and I loved it like no other object a boy has ever loved. 

It was called a Seeker, and I rode that bad boy until I broke the frame trying to use it like a BMX (something else that came into my life and controlled it until I discovered females!).

So, the scene is set, an average kid from a average family, me, mum & pop & my sister (very rebellious, into Punk & Ska & heavy metal, her and my mum never saw eye to eye from what I remember, resulting in her leaving home when she was about sixteen, but she’s 13 years older than me, I think I was a pain in the arse to her then, especially when I broke her new radio!).

So by now I was swimming competitively most of the time, or out on my bike, reading Star Wars comics or playing with the figures (oh and being a very naughty pyromaniac!!).  So what was missing…?

ELECTRO GALACTIC FUNK!!!!

My first conscious introduction to Hip Hop and one of the most influential records in my life was “Planet Rock” by Africa Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force.  Back in those days it wasn’t unusual to hear a bit of funk, disco and such from DJs who played mostly commercial stuff and I think I got exposed to this at a swimming club Christmas Disco (I’m SOOO hardcore, stick that in your pipe all you hard rocks!)

The Technics SL-B2 belt drive turntable I learned to scratch on

I had a mate at swimming club named Jason who was passing me tapes, this is in 1982 of whatever funk or electro stuff he could get off the radio at the time.  As soon as 1983 rolled around, albeit a little late I really got into Adventures on the Wheels Of Steel.  This was the defining record for me…this made me say how did he do that?  What’s that zchoooweee-zchoooowee noise?  This started me tinkering with my dad’s prized Technics separates Hi Fi and introduced me to what was to become a life long obsession with DJing, vinyl, scratching and that experience of buying fresh new joints, getting home, rubbing the edge of the sealed import vinyl on your jeans to break the seal, then inhaling that crisp new vinyl smell before you gently slide that shiny vinyl out of it’s inner protective sleeve, watching the static cause the tiny bits of paper generated from the manufacturing process to dance on the surface.  The environment has to be exactly right, with nothing to interrupt you, as you place it on the platter and lift the tone arm to place it on the run-in groove and wait for the beats to bless your soul with Electro Funk…

So, to GMF, I thank you for making me the vinyl junkie that I am, forcing me to buy the “My Mic Is On Fire” 12 instead of eating, and fighting with some mush in Tower Records over a copy of Travelling At The Speed Of Thought!

Also in 1983, a certain gentleman by the name of Morgan Khan decided to make the series of compilation LPs responsible for the soundtrack to my youth, the Street Sounds Electro series.  Any breaker, writer, rapper or DJ in the UK in the early to mid 80s that was worth their onions literally used this series of releases as the bible code to their lives!  My mate Jason passed me the first Electro I knew of, Electro 3, and from that I dubbed the first 2 off him.  Well boys and girls, that was it for me.  To this day, the Electro period of Hip Hop represents so much for me.  Back then Jason & I were breakin’ at discos at youth clubs, Alton Palace Cinema, swimming club, and against others in Basingstoke

The next few years consisted of me getting ridiculed by the twats at school (I went to a private school, not by choice but I understand why my parents did it…unfortunately it just made me very anti establishment!) until I bought my first Technics 1210 when I was 15.  I had been buying vinyl, mainly LPs at that point, Electro’s and still a few pop 7″s, I guess that shit wasn’t fully out my system!  Still, UK 80s pop was better than most other eras, and pop then actually included proper records, like Games Without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel…

So, around this time, I think summer of 1986 I went to London on the train with my cousin, a writer (TAME),  I was KRIM (still tag that!) and together we were TCM (The Criminal Minded) and bombed Pompey as much as possible.  I still have tags up in the Hillsea Triangle and round the Halls of Fame and a couple of throw ups (really bad ones!)  I had about £100 on me and wanted to buy a mixer, so it was straight to the temple of UK Hip Hop merchandise, 4 Star General, then in Carnaby Street.  As soon as I got there I saw it…the Gemini MX-2200 staring at me in the window for about £60, the classic one used by Cash money with the Wooden Sides.

I wish I still had that now, but I did literally cane it…I had to flood the cross fader with WD40 to stop it crackling.  By this time I was well into buying 12s and had about 50 or so, a mix of UK and US releases.  In 1988 I left school, then during the next 3 years of college, Hip Hop went through the roof for me as I started to meet some like minded individuals.  I got my license in 1989, and mate, it was over then!  Every moment I wasn’t working or at college, I was diggin’ for vinyl, I was obsessed.  Vinyl was cheap too then, and there was still plenty of imports sealed, floating about that had been released from over the last 10 years, meaning I could pick up all the stuff I missed when I was younger and still tied to mum’s apron strings.

By this time I was in Petersfield in Hampshire and shopping for vinyl in London, or in the spots in Pompey, Ross Records, Domino Records in the Tricorn (he was an arrogant bellend in there but had the fresh beats), rinsing Virgin for all the Wax when it shut down (also in the Tricorn), Sweet Memories, Focus Sounds in Waterlooville (wattup Mark) and the various charity shops all down Fratton Road & Fawcett Road.  Also in Commercial Road, round the back of the Multi Story there was a record shop I got a lot of imports from but I cannot remember for the life of me what it was called, I remember the bags were black and white and the guy that worked there was called AJ, a big black guy that always reminded me of the character off the front of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats.  UPDATE!! I remembered this shop was called POWERHOUSE

When we moved to Petersfield in 1986 I was able to pick up London radio, and therefore Mike Allen’s rap show.  I’m not joking, to be able to hear all the fresh jams every week was just incredible.  I used to tape it religiously.  I even used to make my mum stay up and turn my tape over if i was out!  It was obsessive taping, but back then it wasn’t about recording every second and carefully archiving it, I had 10 graffiti covered tapes I used in rotation until about 1989 when I started just using a tape once.  I still have bits and bobs, but not much in my own collection now of old Mike, bless him.  Although my homeboy Big Jim has almost every show on tape, which I will be ripping and uploading here over time.

I started to meet people that would be in and out of my Hip Hop life through to now.  At Havant College I met Mark & Dave, 2 lads that were into the beats.  Mark was a Christian and not ready for my vile sense of humour, or really for the new age of Hip Hop that was appearing, of violence drugs and crime.  Perceptions in the media made him and many others scared of going to jams.  When I bought Electro 11 I filled out the application form to go to UK Fresh but my mum kicked off and wouldn’t let her little soldier go!

Luckily Mike Allen put the whole lot on his show, which I taped and will be uploading here.  I know it’s available all over the place, but this is MY TAPE that I LOVE and know where all the fuzzy bits, dropouts, adverts and bad button pauses are!.  UK Fresh was also responsible for introducing me to DJ Cheese.  Up to that point, I was copying Grandmixer DST, Flash, Jam Master Jay & Davy D.  Cheese took scratching to a new level and as soon as I heard him cuttin’ up, that was my new standard until I discovered DJ Scratch & DJ Alladin.

Davy D, very influential in learning early scratching for me
Jam Master Jay meant a lot to me… now in the cosmos,RIP…
Grandmixer DST, king of cuttin’…until DJ Cheese!
DJ Cheese-Unbelievable cuttin’,blew me away
DJ Aladdin,so so precise & fast, took it to the next level
DJ Scratch,combined really dope cuts with that bomb funk
RADIATE-hair courtesy my man Rick

It was with Dave, a/k/a Subterfyooge (Fyooge) that I put on my first jam.  This was in 1990 if memory serves, in a pub in Havant.  I can’t remember what we called it and I don’t have any fliers.  About 10 people turned up.  We used his beefy mate as security.  I remember that day we went to London to get new records and our prize joint was the that day released on import “Just To Get A Rep”.  I was DJing under the name “Radiate” at the time and this stuck for a few years.

Me and Duce rock the King Tut while Big Jim chills

My crew started to increase, with Legend In Leather, Son of Cowboy, TJ Fresh a/k/a Lord Justice who I met at South Downs college (A TRUE Old Schooler!) and mad vinyl Junkie Big Jim (I don’t personally know anyone that could do him in a sound clash with only Hip Hop 12s), who Trev knew from Leigh Park.  I was in a record shop in Pompey when I saw these two mushes looking at the Hip Hop, so I just started talking and they became mates, Maf & Stew (PANORAMIX, then in the OPM crew, Othello Peace Massive).  Maf was a beat nut and loves his Wax, Stew is the scratcher & producer.  Through them I met Dan (LIFE) at his Comic Shop in the Tricorn, via which I met Dan (DUCE)

They all had extended fam and we all started to knock about together.  Soon after i met DEVIOUS and his extended crew.  Back in 1990 in Portsmouth, myself, the people mentioned above and various other people in our extended fam represented the backbone of practically every Hip Hop event in Pompey over the next 4 or 5 years.

So now the Infamous Rap crew is born, with extended family like Greg, Paul, Laurence, Pob and many others we had a posse of about 20 people.  Yes, that’s right, I just said POSSE!  My god I love using old Hip Hop slang.  So the next natural step was to get on the radio.  Duce & Slyde were mad graf heads, Duce always heavy into his breaks & beats as he was a mad competitive B Boy.  Panoramix & me on the boards, Maf doing crazy mix tapes going off in all sorts of directions.  Big Jim was up London every Saturday like clockwork getting all the fresh 12s.  When he was at his mums he lived in half a bedroom and there was no floor!  Well, there was, it was made of vinyl!  Seriously, he’s 6’3″ or summat and back then about 18 stone, and all he had was a small 2 seater pull out sofa that he sat on with his feet out across his records (or “his children” as he called them!  I remember the night he came in 3 sheets and wazzed all over them in his stupor, and upon realising this spent 2 hours pissing about with a hair dryer with very red eyes before he had to go to work.

We used to all chill together, Devious, Fyooge, Lord Justice, all the BMX lads, Morgan, Drainer who were coming up then.  We were pretty obsessive with our Hip Hop.  We started putting nights on.  We did the Rhythm X night on a Bank Holiday Monday, I was on the Decks and we had Uncle B Nice down from the F1s.  Another night we booked Force and Kay Zee (the famous night Duce played House Of Pain at 45!) which was a bit of a waste of a night.  Then Duce got a weekly night sorted that me and him were DJing at in a student type bar called Slurps.

This was a really dope scratch fest and brought a lot of new faces out the woodwork.  Around this time I first met Justin, this peculiar kid that was fiending for vinyl…I thought it was a bit strange at first but when I realised what a die hard vinyl head he was he made a fresh addition to the crew.  Now this geezer’s got gold dust Hip Hop 12s and most of the diggers in the UK know this cat.  Also I met Theory at Slurps, one of the sickest DJs to come out of the UK.

This was a heady time in my life, we are talking 1990/1991/1992 now (all a bit of a blur in my memory but I’ll do my best!)  We were going to as many jams as we could in London and South Coast.  I used to reach Westwood a lot, starting in 1989 at Dingwalls, then later at the Vauxhall Arches.  I’ll be adding a slideshow here to show a few tickets I kept.  I had a few scrapes at the jams… I remember my first time at the Brixton Academy, MAAAAAD intimidating, still, I held my own and pretty soon we were going to jams 8 or more deep…we must have looked like the NF!  This is in the days of Onyx, and most of us had bald heads or number 1 hair and we were nearly all white so in a queue we stood out like sore thumbs!

There’s too many jams to remember… but it was through getting acts down I met the Encona Coarse guys… Def J (now Original 1) accompanied by Mad Bomber & KLA.  Now this was a real education for me, my first real one on one contact with hardcore London Hip Hop nuts, a bit more removed from the usual Pompey crowd…I remember they got in the car when I picked ’em up from the station, run each other down with mum jokes, got me stop at an offie and spent the rest of the day chirpsin’ birds and gettin’ wasted (while still runnin’ each other down!!!)  These guys were seriously animated, but with MAD SKILLS!!!  Def J was the abstainer, he was just the sharp lyricist, KLA the thug rapper, Mad B the all round comedian and tech head.  They did a PA at the Portsmouth Polytechnic and tore the roof off.

The Encona Coarse crew is deep, and I know Mr K, their other DJ as he attended the Polytechnic at Pompey, hence the hook-up.  I then started to link regularly with these guys, mostly in Hackney and met their extended Fam, including Freshki Dames’ MC Sphinx, MC Tell Tale & MC Cross.  It was also around this time I met Duce’s crew, from Norwich & the surrounding areas.  This included Scott & my main man Just 1 . We all hit it off straight away as soon as we realised we were just all well into our Hip Hop and loved to piss about!

Throughout this period I had a renaissance in BMX riding, and in 1993 or so bought a Standard Lengthy and proceeded to go out riding and huring myself with my good old life long mate Russ (incidentally, amongst sharing every key moment in my life (and taking the piss out of most of them!) he runs Ferox Records & RT  Transmissions, and is still writing, producing & recording music, and long may he continue to do so!…

The radio show had a brief airing again in 1994 for a month on Jamm FM, community Radio in Waterlooville with me & Duce again.  After this, Duce was getting ready to start the longest running and best Hip Hop nights Pompey ever saw, “The Go Off”.  So, this takes us up to about 1996 or so, when myself & Mad B decided to put on a beach party.  This consisted of Me, Duce, Panoramix & Mr K on the Dex with Second To None on the Lino.  Mad B’s mate Stella got her swerve on with the chicken, rice n peas, while the previous night, me, TJ Fresh, Big Jim & Kurt (Mad B) chopped chickens,scraped spuds and did whatever else Stella told us to do until about 6 in the morning, some crazy stuff!  Then, all down to Southsea in Kurt’s yellow BT van, pick up full crew, did the beach event, then drop all the gear off (yo Stew & Jim, I’m eternally greatful for your help, and for waiting on the beach for like 2 hours, reeeeespect!!!!).

So then it was onto the after party which was wicked, a roadblock.  Chucked everyone out at 4am then cleaned up and tried to drop everyone off in Kurt’s van…Trev was in the back and I was so tired I couldn’t remember where his house was and we got lost… Mad B, KLA & Stella were all asleep in the passenger seat and I just pulled over, still with TJ in the back and had an hour’s kip, it was mental!

Hah, memories… I got some of it on video thanks to my man Al, I must try yo get that footage converted at some point and upload it.  If anyone remembers it’s got the mad E head doing press ups in it!

Anyway, after this I’m afraid hip hop in terms of new stuff just wasn’t exciting me any more, so from around 1994 we were increasingly digging in the crates.  We DJed at the King Of Concrete BMX event a few times, that was OK, but to me the beach jam just about marks the end of my involvement in Hip Hop in Pompey…at least I never DJed again down there…

It was 1996 though that me, Big Jim & Panoramix went to Battle Of The Year in Germany, which was incredible and I met a new load of people restoring my faith.  Me and Jim knocked a tape up and flogged ’em all at BOTY (what a twat I am, I haven’t got a copy now!).  The following year, however, was UK Fresh ’97, which was just the best event I have ever been to in my life (props BLUE EYES).  I’m not going to go mad deep into UK Fresh ’97 as it was just too much.  Some key memories was Blade sniffing my smelling salts just before he went on stage to liven him up (he was ill & I had the worst face creaking sinusitis so I carried a hip bottle of brandy the whole 3 days!) and Jim stroking Grandmaster Caz’s shoes from the edge of the stage whilst steamed!

L to R,Big Jim,Me,Sam in Jim’s music room

Later that year, in 1997 I went to Cork in Ireland with Russ to DJ at a Soul & Disco event, where I met the missus.  I had lost my mum in 1995 (God bless ya mum, love ya x) and moved with my Dad to Widley, then into my own Gaf in Boogie Down Cowplain.  Throughout the last 10 years I had been making beats and continued to do so on my Amiga.  In 1998 I moved to Plaistow with the missus in the East End and really got into production big time.  I started work for BT in central London as a Customer Service Engineer which was pretty manic and 1999 saw the birth of my first nipper, my son Byron.  I still managed to get to a few jams, saw Def Tex perform with Just 1, Wu Tang at the Town & Country, Fresh 98 at Stratford (a big fuck you to the bell ends at the back throwing beer at everyone) but in 2000 I got involved in a business which went REALLY badly pear shaped so I was out the game for a couple of years.  Lost the house, loadsa problems, but then in 2005, my daughter was born and in 2006 I discovered The Heroes Of UK Hip Hop website, which was just amazing, loads of mid 30s geezers just like me yearning for that old flavour and to share experiences.  This culminated in Websta, Cutloose & Myself putting on the Heroes Christmas Jam at Cafe 1 in Brum last year, with DJ Cutloose, me and  Ambush on the wheels of Steel, Def J & Mr K (Encona Coarse), Chrome (Def Tex) & Suspekt doing PAs… incredible.

Unfortunately, Heroes was shut earlier this year (big up all my Heroes fam) and about a month before the end of that, myself and G2 had started Hip Hop Science.  We did 13 shows until I had to close it, as music had once again taken over my life, but it was unsustainable and caused me a heap of problems… which brings me to DISCO SCRATCH.

Now, this site is very personal to me.  My heart is on my sleeve.  I registered the name as I liked it ages ago, but never used it.  I have started so many things and done nothing with them (WaxWorx Records for one!, started that in 1990 and still haven’t released anything!) that I wanted a site I could work on at my own speed and upload interesting stuff that I know no other blogs have, and as a resource.  The beauty of this blog is that I can just add to it whenever I feel like it and podcast whenever I have time, so I don’t get in trouble by not doing boring stuff, like work and paying the bills…

So that’s it, a brief history of old Stevie Boy.  Just a couple of shoutz & I’m out.

First of all, my missus, Sugar Tits, er I mean Corrina (alright babe x), and me babies, all my mates that have put up with my mental ideas all over the years and to all the people I have met since this little internet thing started.  Bless you all.

Special thanks and big man love go to my cousin Stacy, without whom I’d probably have no house, missus or kids and has helped me steer my path through life with less drama, good on ya old son (don’t forget our joint New Jack Swing/early 90s rap podcast mate!)

Also my other mental mate Sam Dennis (get well soon you chinless wellington), Big Jim the fellow watcher of blatant acts of lesbian love behind flats while in special forces stealth mode under parked cars!, my Bredren down in Kent, Karl, Paanii Monsta, extra Big Love to Pompey Fam Handsome Dave Rocker, Drainer, props to Al & Ben for continuing with the Go Off, Theory et al (and anyone I forgot down there), my long time mate and sufferer of constant toilet humour Dan Duce & his missus Karyn, to my co-conspirator and general all round Barrow Boy, viz enthusiast and teacher of all things with an Apple on it, Mr Usher, to Mad Bomber & Encona Fam (Kurt I’ll be seeing you soon old son!  Get home from Thailand and back to Crackney where you belong you nutjob!) and to everyone else keeping the torch of proper Hip Hop lit, Devious, TJ Fresh, SEIN, DJ Cro, SUSPEKT CREW (Sup fammo!), Websta, Cutloose, Ridla, Crimes, special mention to Big Hearted Dan Fluent, cheers for your support mate, to all the bloggers ( Benzini, Czechone, jesus that’s all I can remember off the top of me napper!)

Last, but most of all, my long suffering Dad.  Thanks so much for putting up with 14 years of loud rap music (“Turn that chanting rubbish off!!”) for picking me up after getting a kicking, for making me what I am today, from shielding me from all the nastiness when I was growing up and for continuing to put up with me being a kid in this adult’s body. (In reality, I am 13, removing the wrapping from the Electro 10 tape my Autie got me for Christmas, with nothing more to worry about than saving my dad’s tiger tokens to get D90s to record Mike Allen).  For putting up with me being dressed funny with Kid from Kid N Play hair, oh and putting up with me when I was seeing that dreadful bird.

Ditto to mum, love ya and miss ya.

Right, that’s your lot, I’ll update this in about 20 years when I have some more to write.

Oh, and Russ… I’m still not sorry I tore up your maths book and threw the torn pages at you after you spent all night writing it, then laughing as you tried to explain it to Mr Banks.  This still brings me deep joy, even though it was 22 years ago!

Ta’ra a bit

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