Quick blog entry because alas, time is at a premium. We just got interviewed by some guys from The Source – unlike Mrs Wallace, my mum probably won’t smile excessively should my mug pop up in the magazine. With that opening in mind, it’s worth casting our minds back to ’94 when we were waiting on ‘Ready To Die’ to drop – what I’ve been pondering is, was a UK fanzine the first publication to give Biggie a cover?
Did something like One Nut get there first? Not to my knowledge. This August/September issue of the long defunct (it went under in 1995), went on sale in July ’94. Represent, had the rotund rap legend up as the selling point, with a two-pager written by the NYC’s own DJ E-Legal, warning of the impending ‘Illmatic’ comparisons, and telling us to expect even bigger things. The truly ill thing is that Represent came straight out of Cumbria in England’s Lake District, courtesy of editor Rob Davies, as quiet and scenic as the country gets and a long, long way from Bed-Stuy do-or-die – this is the same Represent that put Finsta Bundy on a cover, after Ray Dog and company had broken some unspoken creed with T-Boz, Left-Eye and Chilli in the same position. Try as I might to avoid it, the old ‘it ain’t where you’re from…’ cliche seems particularly appropriate in this case.
A fair smattering of militant editorials, sturdy levels of graffiti coverage and a sense of unpaid raw enthusiasm outweighing Quark skills made Represent a fair representation of the UK’s obsessive approach to hip-hop. The eclectic collection of top tens, and American hookups were a predecessor to the current ease-of-contact, where niche artists are only a fawning MySpace message away. It deserves acknowledgment.