Some jazzy hip hop beats today on Mo’ Wax. A bit of early and unfairly maligned trip hop. Attica Blues were an early Mo’ Wax signing. They took their name from a jaxx album by Archie Shepp.

The group began life in 1994 when producers D’Afro (born Charlie Williams) and Tony Nwachukwu first met up. D’Afro had previously founded London’s Urban Poets Society collective, but the duo later became Attica Blues. While trying to sell some Japanese hip-hop records, D’Afro met up with Mo’Wax founder James Lavelle and was offered a spot on his Mo’Wax label. The duo began recording their first single alone but when a local student, the Egyptian-born Roba El-Essawy, visited the studio during the recording for their debut single, D’Afro and Nwachukwu decided asked her to join. They released their first single in 1995.

Charlie said in 2000, “I went into shops and saw that these tracks were real collectors items. There was a real stigma in the early days with hip hop people been accused of only having an interest in jazz and rare groove for the samples. You’ve got to remember that it was real different back then. You’d go into shops like Soul Jazz when it was in Camden and they’d say “oh you shouldn’t be in here. You don’t respect the music and your only after the first 2 minutes”.


Attica Blues were born out of the frustration of the scene around that time and Charlie felt hindered by the lack of originality around him. Though the name is stated on record as coming from an old Archie Shepp release, Charlie points out that it was meant to piss the traditionalists off.

“Attica Blues is like a traditional sounding jazz name and we chose it to piss people off. Its funny now, but back then, those in the jazz scene wouldn’t play stuff like hip hop. It was only when the likes of Kenny Dope started going into shops spending large amounts that these people realised it was cool to have the hip hop guys in.”
Attica Blues – Contemplating Jazz
Attica Blues – Tender
Buy product, in particular look out for the single “Blueprint”

~ by acidted on March 24, 2008.

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