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Listen to 'Dont Leave Me', off the forthcoming album, 'Power And Glory' - Out Feb 2002.

 

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THE HUNGRY MOUTHS AND TROUBLED MINDS OF HIP HOP
by Luan Goldie

Street accepted, critically acclaimed and hailed as UK Hip hop saviours, Moorish Delta 7 couldn't be more relaxed on the eve of their first full album release. Even Jawar, the so called 'live wire' and life of every party is today in a relaxed mood as he lounges across the sofas in the chill out room at Brixton Mass. I watch the way they handle the pre show press and respond to their manager as she comes in and out of the room making sure everything's kept on schedule. Even before introductions it isn't hard to match the names and voices of Moorish Delta to the three distinct personalities heard on the street hit 'Silent Screams'. Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S (left) is the captain, the mouthpiece of the trio, quick with an answer to every question if Jawar (Middle) doesn't come through with a punch line first. Whereas Malik (centre), the poet and insight, sits quietly in the back listening intently while looking like he's thinking of something on higher plains. Elsewhere you'd expect three such diverse personalities to clash but for Delta its the winning combination that, since forming in 1995, has seen them push sales of 50,000 independently.

Forming in Birmingham, Moorish Delta 7 first came to light after releasing the EP 'Taking Four Wicked Heads', which left them in a constant shower of praise from the alternative and underground, though it is the new material from their first full length album 'Power And Glory' which has them leaving behind the hindering tag of 'UK Hip hop' as they become recognised as just 'Good Hip hop'. Apart from making guest appearances on other artists tracks and working on varied projects it has been three years since Delta put out a disc that was solely theirs thus leaving expectations and anticipation to grow amongst their strong following.

Cipher- "In that time we were just living and going though alot of things in our own lives and that's why when you listen to 'The Art of Survival' you can hear the hunger in that tune."

Jawar coins in with the importance they put on building foundations during the three years they were out.

"When we first came out we were tight but we had to go back and get our foundations straight, so we're
building up."

Prompted by new issues they faced following their success it was during this time that Moorish Delta
made the decision to set up their own company.

Cipher- "Different labels were wanting to sign us and we said, if we are gonna do this thing we're gonna do it by ourselves. So we came back, started the record label, started the publishing, got in the studio and got some office space. So everything we did we did it off our own backs."

The result is 7 Entertainment, their fully independent Birmingham based company dealing with not only Moorish Delta but also on the verge of building and bringing out an entire roster of new talent. Though as an act Delta's prime focus is on Hip hop, through 7 Entertainment they are keen on developing different types of artists and working with varied sounds, it is not a Hip hop exclusive venture as Malik stresses.

"We got soul singers like Adante and Mahogany."

Cipher- "Yeah, Mahogany on a club vibe, more RnB whereas Adante's Like proper soul."

Though working to break new artists from different musical genres Delta recognise that it is Hip hop that hosts the most unfound and unacknowledged talent, and they pride themselves on being in a position to bring such talent to the forefront. Such as they did with 'Experiment Volume One', a compilation album showcasing underground Birmingham acts. Though not released under 7 Entertainment Delta played a big part in the heavy circulated release. Cipher- "We got all the acts, all the people we know from Birmingham. Some of them had never been in a studio in their life. So we said, here's some studio time, here's a beat, we'll mix it for you, we're not looking for no money and what we did was just press up the copies and send it out."

The release was a success and heavily circulated within Hip hop circles up and down the country though the fact that it featured only Birmingham artists prompted the question why, though Delta are quick to
dismiss accusations of trying to create an exclusive by Birmingham and for Birmingham Hip hop sub culture.

Jawar- "We need to push where we're from."

Malik- "There's no one else from Birmingham really out there."

Cipher- "Yeah, there's been nothing from Birmingham in terms of youth music, and round by where we are there's so many singers, dancers, dj's, producers, every form of people that can do anything. We know that in Birmingham there's absolutely no way their gonna get their music out if we don't get involved. Maybe one or two of them, they've had their thing for years, they do put music out, but we're around the way and they can see us on the street, and we just wanted to put them all together. Its not like we're on some Birmingham bred shit, its just matter of how else are they gonna get heard. Because we're hungry, but we know other people are hungry too so we're not trying to grab the whole hard dough bread and break of the whole thing for ourselves, we're trying to cut it up and give everyone a piece."

For every up and coming artist it is a struggle to not only get a record deal but for their music to be heard, such a struggle is further weighted if you are a hip hop artist in the UK and though the odds seem bleak Cipher convinces me the Birmingham scene is not, it has a strong sound. A sound that as Cipher puts it is 'raw'. In contrast to the London sound the hip hop that emanates from Birmingham sounds altogether darker and angrier, presenting a sound raw enough to rival
even Mobb Deep and early Wu Tang.

Malik- "There is a certain vibe there (in Birmingham), a mood and that's what you can hear."

Cipher- "Even if you listen to Drum and bass from Birmingham it sounds slightly darker, Garage sounds
darker. Its like in Glasgow and Edinburgh you should hear some of the stuff they come out with, its hardcore. Its them type of places, because the access you have to certain things down here they've not got. People are hungry so your gonna hear that hunger in the music
".

The hunger and darkness of the Delta sound comes through in not only the music but also in their videos. The promo for 'Silent Screams' was filmed in Birmingham, everything from the way it is shot to the concept behind it goes towards presenting the dark and gritty lifestyle of an ignored urban youth. As grimy as it was innovative the video and its director
received acclaim as well as making the shiny videos of so called US hardcore artists look ridiculous next to
it when it enjoyed heavy rotation on the legendary 'Yo MTV Raps'. Though Delta see the importance of being out there
visually as well as verbally as nothing more than a image related necessity of the industry.

Cipher- "It's very rare nowadays to buy the tune [without seeing the artist] so you've got to take care of certain elements and make sure they are dealt with. The visual element is important."

Again as with every aspect of Delta's business Cipher explains how they chose to work with those close to home.

Cipher- "We've got our office on the same floor as loads of other black businesses and its a brother called Kurtis Norville and he's properly trained. So we work with him alot and there's another guy called Sean Michael's we've worked with and he's working on the next video." The videos for both 'Silent Screams' and 'The Art of Survival' received widespread rotation in not only the UK but across Europe and on US MTV2. Like the music Delta see to it that they are involved in every aspect of making the video."

Jawar- "No one can sit there and tell us what we're going to be doing."

Cipher- "Everything comes from us, the artwork, mastering, videos, photography. Because each of us have different sides. Jawar knows what good artwork is, Malik knows about anything to do with writing, anything to do with ideas, anything to do with concept. Hip hop is the biggest selling music world-wide, and we are pioneers of that. The music is all ours, the music is put together by us, its writing, producing, mixing, the label is ours, we own the publishing. That's what we do. So the more work you put it the more successful you get."

Though Delta recognise that there is more to gaining success than just hard work as it is music industry
politics that can also dictate the levels of success an artist reaches. With the success and growing popularity of RnB within the last few years and more recently the garage take-over by groups such as So Solid and Mis-Teeq we
discuss the current trend within the industry to push all things urban with the curious exception of UK Hip
hop.

Jawar- "Alot of things are leaning on the Hip hop side and eventually people are going to realise that all
this is steaming from Hip hop and then their gonna be like, lets look at that." Cipher- "But So Solid, them man kick off alot of doors. For man off road to get signed and get a big
deal its something
. "

And finally to the tired argument of the differences between UK and US Hip hop, as to why one is the
biggest selling music world-wide and the other is virtually ignored. Despite being some of the hardest working people in
the Hip hop Moorish Delta 7 hold no animosity towards the constant stream of second rate american artists
that receive airplay, rotation and column inches over themselves, just because of where they are from.


Jawar- "It ain't even about hating because its all hard work, everyone has to put in hard work somewhere
and its only when you don't see something coming back to that then its a problem. Cipher- "You can't watch a next man and despise a next man for doing well
."

Nor do they hold animosity towards the numerous DJs, promoters and personalities within the business that are in a position to push UK Hip hop yet chose not to.

Malik- "Its all money man. Its a thing where if your not in that circle then your gonna get screwed. What
i'm saying is we never go up to Westwood, it's not like we know him like that. There's no reasons for
certain DJs to play our tunes
."

Cipher- "There's two ways to deal with problems. You can see a problem and just lie down and complain about it or you can just say fuck that. Because what else are we supposed to do, just moan and complain? We're hungry so we don't see them things there."

Malik- "We are bringing out some banging music and the country has to take notice and people are taking notice."

Despite all the issues artists have to deal with Moorish Delta 7 remain a force as positive as they are innovative.

 

MOORISH DELTA: THE NEW ALBUM - 'POWER AND GLORY' IN STORES FEBUARY 2002

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