This week we welcome Jason Carter from the Blapps Posse to the Dusk Dubs family.
Jason co-founded Blapps! Records with school friend Dazzle D in 1988 releasing tracks by the Dynamic Guv’nors which included other Islington Green alumni ST and MC Untouchable. The Group evolved into the Blapps! Posse with new members Aston Harvey, Lou’Eze, Maria Naylor, Techno C and William George. With different partners for each project, Jason went on to record as one half of Epitome of Hype, Turntable Symphony and Clusterfunk. Later he recorded solo as DJ Toolz, London Funk Allstars and Mad Doctor X, and as Jay Rock was the tour DJ for The Freestylers.
"Hi there! Hope you enjoy my playlist. It’s theme, if you want one to try and give it some coherence, is not unlike others on here. It is somewhat autobiographical and mostly chronological in as much as these songs sign-posts key points in my life and music career. Thanks" [[ Jason ]]
You can find Blapps Posse HERE:
1) Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Carry On (1970)
2) Steely Dan – Rikki Don’t Lose that Number (1974)
Even though my mum worked 2 jobs, my dad always found money for his puff and his music. He had a state-of-the-art B&O stereo that my friends used to come ‘round and look at. It was like something from the future; a Beo Master amp with touch sensitive facia, remote control operation and BeoGram 4004 Record Deck with an arm that moved horizontally across the records it played.
Then there was his huge record collection, tapes and 8-tracks. So I found music and the listening to it important as there was more music than TV in our flat. The first 2 tracks represent memories of these times and are among the songs I still enjoy today and both bands created music well worth exploring.
3) Cat Stevens - Mona Bone Jakon (1970)
Cat Stevens created some beautiful music. My dad, again, constantly played his songs and I love his voice, melodies and lyrics. I was too young to understand I was listening to a genius. He actually paid for 3 coaches to take all of my primary school to Margate one year. It turns out that he went to the same school as me and this was how he chose to give something back. He used his success in music to do something positive. As Yusef Islam he continues to do so.
4) The Pork Dukes – Tight Pussy (1977)
Most of us have songs that remind us of a friendship formed. This is one of those. My mum and dad Divorced in 79, and all of a sudden, I’m living on a new estate. Eventually I befriended Terry whose parents were from St Lucia. Unusually, Terry was a fan of Punk (Below is how he would have dressed). He was 17 and going to watch bands at the Hope and Anchor on Upper Street. He would tell me about the fights he got into and I just couldn’t understand why he would want to follow music that had all that aggro around it. There was a lot of music in Terry’s house and he used to let me look through his family’s record collections which had a mixture of Punk, Lovers Rock and Roots. The track I have selected reminds me of that friendship. It’s not a typical example of Punk music or even the group who perform it. But it’s got more importance because it was on coloured vinyl which I’d never seen before. Also, the filth of the lyrics was something I’d never heard before. More profoundly though, I loved the rough and rugged feel of the record’s crudely drawn artwork. It probably wasn’t the first example of hand-drawn label copy and it wasn’t the last (obviously Schooly Dee’s releases spring to mind). I had this “home-made” feel at the forefront of my mind when, a few years later, I started to design the look of Blapps’ releases.
5) Grandmaster Flash - The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel (1981)
So up until now, my musical taste was influenced by other people. I would buy the occasional, throwaway 7” record but I didn’t have any particular music that I could identify myself with. Terry’s older brother, like their dad, was into Reggae and Ska and it was interesting to hear that the music of the Specials and Madness, that were in the charts at that time, had source material such as The Skatelites and Desmond Dekker. I got my hands on a compilation called Ska 67 but that was as far as it went for me back then. I was also aware of rap music as a new thing, but it was obscure and hadn’t yet been exploited as a gimmick in this country yet. Then one day I heard Wheels of Steel and everything changed for me. What blew my mind was the scratching: the manipulation of vinyl. When I found out how it was done, again, to me it was subversive. The way to play a record was to take it out of its sleeve, carefully, respectfully. You only touch the edges; you wipe the dust and gently lower the needle. This scratching thing was an anarchy of the turntable for me and I was fascinated.
6) Rammellzee And Shock Dell With Grandmaster DST - Rammellzee And Shock Dell At The Amphitheatre: (1983) from The Wildstyle Soundtrack
After discovering Rap and hip hop from Wheels of Steel, from ‘81 to ‘83 I was casually buying any records that had scratching or Rap. I’d buy anything Dalston Woolworth’s sold in the now iconic, generic PRT sleeve that Wheels of Steel was in: This UK distributor and label had all of the UK released tracks. I had no idea about imports or even where to buy them I just knew iconic PRT/Sleeved records were the releases to look for. This was the formation of the techniques that develop into classic record hunting strategies: Looking at associated labels, distributors, producers etc. to find new gems. I was still at school though, so music was a pocket money thing and I wanted to spend my money carefully.
One LP that I picked up based on the, now iconic, sleeve was the Wildstyle soundtrack LP. Obviously when I bought it, I didn’t realise what a significant recording this was, but it was probably, at that time, the first genuine artefact of everything that hip hop represented that you could buy in the UK at that time. With its many scratchable, quotable snippets and “breaks” that I would try and track down for years after. This is my favourite track of the album.
7) Imperial Brothers - We Come To Rock with Newcleus - Jam On It from Streetsounds Electro 3 (1984)
When you’re young and using small change to buy records, and when you don’t yet have any detailed knowledge about the music you’re into (from sources such as radio or magazines) a life-saver was the compilation album. I found The Electro albums when 3 came out. The reason I select these two tracks from the Electro 3 LP and not individually is because I had this album before I purchased the 2 tracks separately. Eventually, when I bought Jam On It, something blew my mind: Where was the 1st rap verse that was on the Electro album? I subsequently bought the Imperial Brothers on 12” and there it was. How did they do that? My ears had been opened to creative mixing for the first time. The tracks had been blended seamlessly.
So, while the Grandmaster Flash track had opened my ears to scratching, the Electro Albums and this mix right here, were the single thing that got me into mixing. I really wanted to learn how to do this. The Electro albums also had a hand in creating another friendship. It started with a casual discussion about these albums with someone in my science lesson at school. Eventually, the person I was talking to become a life-long friend. That friend, D, and I, would later go on to DeeJay together and then found Blapps! Records, but in ‘84 we were just kids in our last year of school, preparing for our CSE exams but enjoying talking about music.
8) Knights Of The Turntables – Techno Scratch (1984)
By winter 84 I had got a YTS apprenticeship. I was earning £25 per week so finally had the money to buy the dearer Imports. I’d also found Mr Music in Dalston and Groove Records in Greek Street- I used to trek up to the West End with D to buy releases from Groove’s and wonder at that granny that used to sit behind the counter. Knights of the Turntable was one of the first Imports I bought ever bought. More in your face scratching for me to analyse as I was getting closer to buying the equipment needed to try and scratch and mix myself.
9) Double Dee And Steinksi - Lesson 3 (History Of Hip Hop) (1985)
I only ever got a bootleg of this track but it was the final kick up the arse I needed to find out if I could manipulate records myself. The creativity of the mixing, the soul, the rap, the electro, snippets of dialogue: this mix spoke to me directly especially with its eclecticism. Also, there were songs I recognised in the mix but many I didn’t. I needed to track them down: Some of those drum brakes were what I loved …what were they how could I ever find out?
10) L.T.D. - Cuttin’ It Up: from Super Disco Breaks Vol. 6 (1984)
Eventually I stumbled on this break beat album. It was volume 4, so I was happy to know there were more volumes before and maybe some after! Unfortunately, at that time I couldn’t find them wherever I looked. I guess as bootlegs they were rare and maybe not much of a demand. I imagined that the regular faces that hung out in certain shops were getting the few that trickled into the country. Eventually, The Ultimate Breaks Albums started to come out, but these were the originals and this volume gave me artists to try and track down. The Paul Winley (and Ultimate) albums are important slices of hip hop history: Cuttin’ it Up remains my favourite track on this album.
11) The Jimmy Castor Bunch – It’s Just Begun (1972)
This track was also on the Winley breaks album and it is on my playlist as it was the first break I tracked down. I got it in Reckless records in Upper Street Islington. There was a guy worked in there called Trevor. I guess he knew his shit: he priced records accordingly or you could say excessively. He was a one-man Discogs of the late 80's and obviously knew the tracks that people, like me, were searching for. This probably wasn’t really a difficult L.P. to get your hands on at the time, along with L.P.s containing classic breaks like the Commodores and Magic Disco Machine’s. I think the Hip Hop scene and subsequent Rare Groove scene made the prices of records that would have been in the bargain bins a few years before, suddenly become “valuable”. However, it was good, good music that was getting a second lease of life.
12) Doctor Funnkenstein And DJ Cash Money - Scratchin’ To The Funk (Part 1) (1985)
Although I now had 2 turntables (Technique SL BDIIs) and a Realistic mixer bought from Tandy in Oxford street, I was still only buying one record if I found a break. The intent was there but I wasn’t at the stage where I was able to juggle 2 copies for an emcee and belt drive turntables would prove impossible to do this with as I was to discover later. I was practising scratching and trying to mix but the only good mixes happened when I accidentally selected two tracks of similar tempo and, luckily, released one track at the right moment. I was getting mad frustrated with mixing. What was I doing wrong? Eventually I would get it, but I enjoyed the challenge of learning to scratch although I was doing simplistic baby-scratch patterns (again, the belt drive didn’t help). This Cash Money 12” had scratch techniques that, at that time, took the skill to another level. I would listen and study the different rhythms and attempt them myself. This was a really important record for me and, I think, a lot of aspiring DJs.
13) Trouble Funk – So Early In The Morning (1982)
Thanks to the cash money Track, not only was I learning new scratch patterns, but I started digging deeper into Go-Go too. I knew the Hey Fellas track from the Sugar Hill, Rapped Uptight compilation album from ’82, but this track is so fierce. Heavy beats and that “Break it on down!” intro. I would bring this to every studio session to scratch and be inspired. It proved fortunate; the sample would become an important part of the Blapps! Posses’ Don’t Hold Back release.
14) Bob James – Nautilus (1974)
Also in ‘85 I found what would, for the next few years, become my Bible. David Toop’s 1984 book, Rap Attack. It was a wealth of knowledge: Giving me photos of artists who I’d only ever heard on records and lists of break-beats and rap and soul tracks I’d missed before I had started collecting records. It sent me on a mission to find artists like Baby Huey, Dennis Coffey and Bob James who were all mentioned in the book. If I had to pick my most favourite track from the hunting down of breaks it is this Bob James track. I realised it wasn’t just breakbeats I wanted to discover; it was good music generally.
15) Pink Floyd – Set The Controls For The Heart OF The Sun (1968)
I realised that the deeper you dug, and the more time you had to spend on digging, the more good music there was to discover. At this time, I didn’t have an ulterior motive: No tracks to sample for, no dance floor to play to, and still no Emcee to juggle for; I just enjoyed collecting records. Before I discovered this track, I’d known Pink Floyd from my school days. In about 1975 we’d gone round to some kid called Darren’s house to listen to the intro of Speak to Me/Breath, from the monolithic Dark Side of the Moon album just to hear the guy say “I’ve been mad for fucking years”
16) The Electric Prunes - The Adoration (1968)
Another expensive buy from Reckless. Whoever had this before me treated the vinyl beautifully and this is such a glorious LP to listen to but this track is just so good with its funky, rocky and psychedelic grooves that would eventually provide a massive sampling source for Rap and Trip Hop producers to mine.
17) Steady B - Bring The Beat Back (1986)
‘86 and I’m still on a quest to learn scratch patterns. Admittedly I was copying rather than learning my own, but I guess that’s how everyone starts to learn a new skill. I felt like I was mastering some of the Cash money patterns. I was spending those hours that you seem to have as a youth, trying to get it right. There’s also DJ Cheese coming through with his own twisty scratch and Steady B’s Grand Dragon KD with his Transformer scratch on this release. I went to the Hippodrome to see Cheese win the DMC championship. It was an exciting night, not only because a prize winner disappeared from the stage when they fell down the stage pit onto a drum kit (I don’t think they were hurt) but after Cheese was crowned champ, raising the roof chopping up Hashim and scratching new beat patterns out of the bass and snare from Doug E Fresh’s The Show, the guy in 3rd place Orlando Voorn, grabbed the mic and asked “Is this a deejay contest or a scratching contest?”. Apart from Cheese, all the other sets were attempts to beat mix as many tracks as possible in the allocated time. It seems weird now that, at that time, mix DeeJays and Scratch Deejays were considered different skills but I guess it was hosted by the Disco “MIX” Club so that’s probably what pissed Voorn off. That year, I also went to Morgan Khan’s UK Fresh to try and see how Grand Dragon KD did the transformer scratch that is on my play-listed Steady B track. It sounded to my ears as if he was bumping the deck to make the needle bounce rhythmically across the point of E.U.’s Knock Him Out Sugar Ray that he was cutting up. It turns out I was none the wiser because from where I sat the artists on stage were as small as Subbuteo players.
18) Timex Social Club - Rumors (1986)
By late ‘86 I had taught myself to mix and scratch as competently as I could. Me and D were playing sets at blues parties. We mostly used other peoples’ equipment. Classically, the guys who brought the sound systems were playing reggae and we would play the soul and rap cuts when a change was needed. Like Terry’s older brother, those guys were a few years older than us so that was their generation’s music. We would drop tracks by groups like Cameo, SOS band, Unlimited Touch, UTFO, Yarborough and Peoples and so on. But in the summer of ‘87 I was invited to play at a party in Murray Grove, Hoxton. I didn’t know anyone there and I was going to be using 1200s for the first time. As I keep saying, I’d taught myself to mix on belt drives, and I’d never touched a proper Direct Drive table at other parties. At this party I chopped between 2 copies of Timex Social Club’s Rumours, something I had practised in my bedroom. I had people standing round me watching, loving it and it was the first time Id seen people actually appreciate what I could do. I also realised how much easier it was to use 1200s to manipulate vinyl. This record brings back that happy time for me. Prior to this, the biggest buzz I’d got from DJ'ing was when Tim Westwood played a tape me and D had sent in to LWR. I was baby-scratching over the top of Hashim’s, Al-Naafiysh while D did an off-the-cuff rap. I was still doing my apprenticeship at that time, so I (imaginatively) called myself The Apprentice DJ, and D was Dazzle D. It was just us pissing about and we didn’t really think any more about it.
19) Kleeer - Intimate Connection (1984)
I just love Kleeer and this is one of my favourite tracks of theirs, but it isn’t a classic example of their music. However, it’s important for my play-list because it was one of the tracks I had on a mix I recorded onto cassette and took to Jah Tubby’s mastering studio in Broadway Market, Hackney. I was a student at Hackney college which was around the corner from JTS. I remember the DJs at the Blues had these dubplates and I became obsessed with the idea of having one of my own, home-recorded mega-mixes cut onto one. So I took my tape to Jah Tubby’s and got myself a 10 inch plate. This song reminds me of my first trip to Keith’s laboratory, a place I would return to when Blapps! started releasing records.
20) Adonis – No Way Back (1986)
21) Marshall Jefferson – The House Music Anthem (1986)
I’m sure everyone took the first record they bought on the Trax label back to the record shop before it became apparent they just pressed their records on shit vinyl. I bought these records in ’87. I can’t remember if House music was a thing when I bought the Adonis track, but to me it just sounded like a raw electro cut, like how Juan Atkins’ music went from being labelled Electro to Techno. The crackles and studio hum that sounded like an un-grounded turntable gives this track add an additional, gritty, flavour which I loved. And, by virtue of its name alone, I guess Marshall Jefferson’s song was the first House record I bought: I just bought it because of it’s beefy drums and dirty piano not thinking at all about its categorisation.
22) Armando – Land Of Confusion (1987)
I remember the first time I heard this track like it was yesterday. I went to D’s house who was still getting ready as we were preparing to go clubbing somewhere. I imagine it was The Fever, Do at the Zoo or something. D was either playing this off the radio or had taped it to play it to me. All I know is my mind was blown. This was probably more basic than Adonis but that dirty, twisty, bass synth noise going through it? Damn! For some reason I thought of the Larry Young’s Fuel track, Turn off the Lights with its nasty, malevolent moog. This was a futuristic sci-fi version of Electro funk and it was pure filth. I went to the record shop the next day to buy it and for a while bought anything that came along that had a 303 bassline in it.
23) Royal House – Can You Party (1988)
Just when a new style of music comes along (house) trust Hip Hop to try and bastardize it. To me, Terry sounded like the new Marley Marl. His sonically crunchy samples sounded like an authentic deconstruction of House done by a B-Boy. At that time, I didn’t have a clue about sample manipulation but what he had done with Marshall Jefferson sounded like next level genius. Later that year, by pure accident, I found myself at Noise Gate Studio in New Cross. I was there to scratch for a friend who didn’t even turn up. He had paid for the studio time and I had a bag full of records as I was there to scratch. Michael Menson (RIP), the studio owner and engineer and one half of Double Trouble, suggested using the time up to create something. I guess it was just pure luck that the first thing produced was Rock The Discotheques which was Blapps! Records’ first release. In all fairness, its not very imaginative, just a straight rip off of this Royal House track.
Without even thinking about quality I took the quarter inch tape onto which the tracks were recorded, to Jah Tubby’s to get 300 copies pressed. We probably ended up selling 10,000 copies from the back of our cars: pure beginners luck.
24) Nicolette – Single Minded People (1990)
By 1990 I was still working and in the last year of my apprenticeship. Our label, Blapps! was ticking along nicely. We were good-naturedly and blindly stumbling along, generally being lucky with releases and earning a bit of change on the side, mostly from doing P.A.s. My hobby was proving lucrative and my school friends were along for the ride; Dazzle D, MC Untouchable, ST all contributing to tracks. I remember drawing labels in my workshop when I’d done all my repairs in peoples properties. You have big dreams when you're young, like nothing will ever hold you back. My personal vision, not a new one obviously, was to make a musical collective so the Dynamic Guv’nors expanded into the Blapps! Posse. We’d picked up Aston as he was on his way to greater things with DJ Rap and the Freestylers and a friend from college, Techno C who would go on to be Industry Standard. While we did our thing, others were doing theirs in this burgeoning “bedroom” scene. Most notably to me it was Shut Up and Dance. I feel we were doing the same kind of thing, Hip Hop lovers were producing tracks for ravers. In all fairness I don’t think we got the same success as PJ and Smiley, but we were earning similar respect I like to think. And on a personal level, I feel they were pushing me to always try and go one better in the studio. So, they were indirectly and partly inspirational, but at the time I didn’t actually recognise it. Anyway, when I heard the stuff with Nicolette, that’s when I knew, the Blapps! Posse should not just be DJs and Emcees, it needed singers too.
25) The Sindecut - Having (1990)
Likewise, when I heard this album it cemented it for me: I wanted Blapps! to be a mash-up of influences and feature DJs, Emcees and singers. Like I said, not an original idea but that was Blapps’ vision when we started work on our next release
26) Rebel MC Featuring Tenor Fly – The Wickedest Sound (1991)
The first time I met Fly (RIP), I was in ‘91. I was at Double Trouble’s new studio in Denmark Street recording with Techno C. We had released an EP called Outrage but changed our name to Epitome of Hype for a couple of releases. Fly was recording with Rebel MC (Congo Natty) in the same studio. Rebel was vital to Blapps’ development. He’d let The Dynamic Guvnors produce a track on his first LP which was I guess was a massive gamble for him and making Don’t Hold Back the inaugural release on his new Tribal Base label was yet another boost for us. Aston had brought in his friend Lou’eze (Louchie Lou) who had the most amazing, powerful voice and it felt like the pieces were finally coming together. Fly’s Town Ah Run Hot was released on Tribal Base just after. I would later record tracks with Fly myself and tour with him and another mighty Emcee, Navigator, as part of Aston’s Freestylers project. This track is one of the blueprints of Jungle music and is a classic, mighty banger.
27) A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation (1993)
28) Wu-Tang Clan – Clan In The Front (1993)
I want to end with these two tracks which, although worthy of any playlist and here for more personal reasons and were an example of being in the right place at the right time. In 1993, I went to New York for the first time with my then girlfriend and now my wife. We went in November to Christmas shop. This turned out to be an even more special trip: We had just found out our first child was in her belly. Morning sickness blighted the trip for her but bless her she found strength to stagger round record shops with her vinyl obsessed boyfriend. It was in one shop I spotted Tribe’s new album and I had this and a stack of other tracks and was standing at the counter. Someone tapped me on the shoulder as I waited to pay and when I turned around one of the shop’s staff is standing there holding an LP. He says” This just came out, you gotta get this too, trust me”. It was Enter the 36 Chambers. I was in NYC when, probably, the best two rap albums to ever come out of NY were released and I was going be a dad too. These are my favourite cuts from both albums, and they remind me of one of the best times of my life and is a good place to end my playlist.