Saturday, 13 August 2011

Collapsed Lung - 'Down With The Plaid Fad'

It's funny that this should turn up on the weekend when Channel 4 is showing it's 'How Hip Hop Changed the World' weekend, because this is a particular slice of British hip hop that is very dear to me.

One of the central tenets of hip hop culture is 'keeping it real'. Exactly what that means is open to debate. KRS-1 would have you believe that REAL is an acronym for 'Rhymes Equals Actual Life'. Modern commentators seem to agree that hip hop hasn't been in a good place for some time now. You don't have to wait very long on Kanye & Jay-z's new album to hear Kanye brag about how has two big-faced Rolexes. Nice one Kanye - I'll loot Argos and steal an armful of Swatches in ironic homage. As Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip point out, 'guns, bitches and bling have never been part of the four elements, and never will be'. The four elements of hip hop are breaking, MCing, DJing and grafitti, as any fule kno.

The four elements conspicuously don't include sloppy, culturally accurate grunge-hop, but if you want an an example of a band keeping it REAL, look no further than mid-90s Collapsed Lung. I saw them in Manchester in 1995, and they were hilarious, and in a good way. A bunch of guys, playing tight, funky rocky grooves, two rappers trading rhymes over the top. It was like having the whole of global musical culture condensed into 3 minute snippets, lyrically tight and culturally smart, thrown back in your face with a cocksure swagger that said 'yeah, we know, it's all a bit mad, but you know what - we're kicking ass, and you're loving it'. It's the very antithesis of where hip hop is today, either a global sell-out or a ghettoised artistic statement.

Fresh stoopid rhymes, sloppy loud guitars, distorted vocals, hell yeah, I still love it today like I loved it then.


  1. Bless you Zak - you're very kind for writing this.

  2. That was really nice to read. Thank you very much!

  3. You soft bastards. But thank you both!

  4. Tchah - I did your monitors and spotlit you at the Escape in Brighton when you played with Credit to the Nation, and you know what? I was the only one in the room with a genuine pneumothorax! *That* is keeping it real.

    You had good tunes, and a Partridge reference that I hope pays for all your Christmases...jings, I may even have a single on my own shelves...