Blendin', trendin'

and the North Hulme Sound

Dean welcomes the Ruthless Rap Assassins to Manchester's hall of fame

THE RUTHLESS Rap Assassins and their sister group "the Anti-Mel and Kim" Kiss-AMC are emerging as the North's numero uno rapping conglomerate.

As one of those famous "major recorditig deals" is about to breeze their way, and they have a somewhat ruthless dub plate doing the better dance-floors to death, alittle conversation and "Special" seemed a good idea. Armed with little more than Steve Wright's tripod we managed to penetrate the Assassin' secret North Hulme H.Q. by using that ancient password "Baileys Irish Cream". Well, it was snowing.

Thr original members of the RRA's, DJ Dangerous and Kermit La Freak go back a long way in the history of British hip-hop. to the heady "electro" days of Greg Wilson's hardcore sessions at Legends in Manchester (interestingly enough, Greg is now the Assassins' manager). Indeed DJ Dangerous first picked up the mike for local reggae sounds in the late Seventies. As an untypically reflective Kermit put it "we've been doing this for a long time... even through the bad times."

The newer members, Kiss-AMC', and erstwhile journeyman deck manipulator The Dangerous C, are equally as important to the Assassins' sound; as is shown on the cracking dubplate 'Let Off/RuthlessRap'. 'Let Off' features the vocals of Kiss-AMC over a marauding on-the-fours Motown bass part coupled with a punchy synth horn chart, and cries out for mainstream airplay.

'Ruthless Rap' on the other hand, is a blasting heavy duty piece of goods that wittily contains an ancient electroid middle ground to balance its overall modernism. In other words: Hefty Hefty Dance Gear. Whatever the Assassins are, one-dimensional they are not.

I first asked the crew if they had any problems of identity in being British rap artists. Kermit: "Hip-hop is a ghetto style of music. We do not do South Bronx style music, we do a North Hulme style of music. Obviously we listen to American rap artists ..."

DJ Dangerous: "What attracted young black kids all over the world to hip-hop in the first place was that it dealt with certain common experiences like unemployment. Also rap allows you to be creative onl your own terms".

It shouldn't really be surprising that British youth assimilate rap so easily when you consider the original New York performers' Caribbean roots; a cultural connection which is of course much stronger here than in the States. There is a very strong case for suggesting that all forms of rap are born Yardie.

If the British angle is no problem, then what of the difficulties of being based a long 200 miles from the money and power base that is the capital?

DJ Dangerous: "We are happy to be in Manchester, because here people really understand about music, they KNOW about music. If you look at the London-based magazines and see the trash that's in the soulcharts... I mean nobody listens to those pop things in Manchester; Spin-Inn (local import shop) sends 'em back!"

Kermit: 'London is just a showcase. There's a lot going on down there at the moment simply because hip-hop has become trendy; I am NOT a trendy person.

"If all this regionalism sounds like a case of a chipped shoulder, you would be wrong. The North Hulme locale has its advantages.

"Coming from the north, we bring a different perspective. We sound different, harder, BECAUSE of the northern accent and because of Manchester's strong tradition of black music appreciation."

With the sort of determination they've shown so far, the Ruthless Rap Assassins are unlikely to be just a flash-in-the-pan affair. On February 17 they are presenting a special showcase at the Hacienda featuring their latest material. This evening could be the perfect moment to decide whether the Assassins' combination of Kiss-AMC's pop-dance bubble, and the Ruthless Rappers' verbal trouble is the perfect blend for chart success. I feel attendance is mustful... and I have South Hulme affiliation!