Around the new year UK hip hop lost a great rapper and producer, Mark Barnes aka Mark B (of Mark B and Blade fame). I held off saying much because I wanted something more official than a tweet from others confirming it. I was hoping it was a rumour, but I guess this confirms it 🙁
A few days ago Blade posted up a video via a third party (he’s stepped away from the music industry? That’s sad.) about his friend Mark B. It’s a good tribute to a great producer…I bought a copy of The Unknown in the interim, and it’s still as fresh as when it was released over fifteen years ago.
Mark B and Blade, along with Roots Manuva, Dizzee Rascal and then Scroobius Pip and Dan Le Sac a bit later got me back into the UK hip hop game – when it had all gone gangster and the likes of MC Tunes got his (actually really good) 2nd album not released (and Cookie Crew, Wee Papa Girl Rappers, Merlin, Hijack and all the rest never made it past the first album usually, or the label lost interest after that). So I wandered off in the early 90’s, more interested in Britpop and grunge.
Also a big part of that revival was Missy Elliot, and Eminem bringing the fun back in the early 00’s, but I appreciated the UK perspective, rapping about cheese on toast and pints, our things, our neighbourhoods. And of course Massive Attack is one of the few exceptions that stayed the course, but they moved away quite quickly from the hip-hop/trip hop formula.
Good Brithop coming on strong with a local flow rescued rap for me, I was tired of the Onyx/Biggie/2Pac gun bullshit. So I owe Mark B and others a lot, for keeping that flame alive and proving you can flow without ‘guns, bitches and bling’ and still beat them at their own game.
So here’s ‘Ya Don’t See The Signs’ which said it all better than I can, than the UK rap game had been criminally ignored: