So, thank you to Adam Ross for his help and hopefully you can help out more in giving the people what they need on behalf of the Northern Author in the future.
First up, one of his link’s reunited an idea in my mind of a post I was going to do a few months back. I was looking through the albums on offer and came across the full length solo debut of UK rapper and absolute legend Blade.
Blade has been in the rap game as long as Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane or Large Professor, and arguably has created as vital a body of work as them. Maybe not on the same worldwide scale, but I know for a fact that thousands upon thousands of hip-hop fans (a lot not necessarily based in Britain) consider Blade to be more than just Mr. Consistency in the rap game. He was one half of the duo that created probably one of the most important UK rap albums there is, as ‘The Unknown’ with producer Mark B kicked in the door for all of the UK artists today that are getting success with their work.
‘The Unknown’ spawned some MASSIVE singles, the main one being ‘Ya Don’t See The Signs’, which got a remix from multi-award winning Feeder guitarist Grant Nicholas, which was the first UK hip-hop song to get into the Top 40 pop charts for a long time (for the oblivious, you may have heard this for the past five or six years as the theme tune to Soccer AM on Sky Sports)
However, Blade is and always was a solo artist first and foremost, and he has released some great solo work before and after that important album. Here, courtesy of my new internet mate Adam Ross, we have Blade’s ‘The Lion Goes From Strength To Strength’ from 1993. It was his first full length , and didn’t disappoint. When I was scouring the net to find some decent background info on the man himself I found his own website which tells us a lot more about the album than I have. It also gives an insight into just how determined Blade was to succeed in a British Rap market that was practically non-existant (or at least not known) at the time. Go here.
1. Keep It Goin On
2. Fade Em Out
3. Music For Universal Pleasure
5. How To Raise A Blade
6. No Compromise
7. Hold Your Own
8. Bedroom Demo
10. Take It To The Edge
11. ... Or Get Crushed Like A Pumpkin
12. Heads Are Forever Boppin’
13. Shut The Fuck Up
14. Silence Is Better Than Bullshit
15. No Mercy, No Future
16. The Lion Goes From Strength To Strength
17. The Power Of Positive Thinking
18. Survival Prelude
19. God Give Me Strength
20. Fuck The System
21. Dark & Sinister (feat. Mell‘O)
22. Suck On My Electric Guitar
To show how much the man’s music has changed through time, rather than put up his whole back catalogue (which I’m sure would not only be detriment to you all buying his records like you should be, and would of course be much more time consuming for me) I’m giving you his first and most recent efforts. Thirteen years after he released his first album, Blade brought out ‘Guerilla Tactics‘, which has a much more modern British sound, mostly due to producer extraordinaire Baby J handling all of the beats. Baby J, as already covered on this very site, has such a distinctive sound, and this album could have almost been Blade & Baby J, but in terms of the concepts within and the topics covered by Blade, its very much a personal effort.
The guest spots that are present are on the two ‘posse’ cuts on the album, ‘Army of Barmy Rappers’ and ‘The Massacre Begins’. The other guest spots are only chorus vocals sung by Baby J affiliates Larissa & Dwaine Hayden.
As a personal recommendation, ‘Four Walls’ is f**king immense, but the whole album is superb and one of the most refreshing UK hip-hop albums of the past two or three years. Funny how it takes an old hand to inject passion and focus into a genre while the young guns flap about, eh?
2. Four Walls
3. MCs Just Wanna Rhyme
4. System Of A Damned
5. Beatbox (5th Element)
6. I Found A Reason
7. Army Of Barmy Rappers (feat. S. Kalibre, Cipher, Manage, Respek-Ba & Rukus)
8. MC (2nd Element)
9. Its Your Time (feat. Laurissa)
10. Don’t Push Them
11. B-Boy (3rd Element)
12. She’s Gone
13. The Massacre Begins (feat. Yogi, Humurak D Gritty & Mystro)
14. Graffitti (4th Element)
16. Round & Round
17. DJ (1st Element)
18. UK Hip Hop
Both are examples of how rap should sound in my opinion, which leads me to the question in the title. Is Blade UK's Greatest Rapper? He could very well be.
PS. As a sidenote, Certified Banger did a canny good post on some collaborations Blade has done in their 'Collabo Connections' series, so check that out too. Its seems that great minds really do think alike.