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Bristol’s hip-hop hub: Split Prophets

May 5, 2012

Profile: Split Prophets

The rap collective from Bristol talk to Noise Notes about the resurgence of UK hip-hop and the thriving scene in South West England…

“I remember when I was younger, there were fuck all good hip hop nights on,” ruminates Res, member of hip-hop collective Split Prophets, over the phone, “I think music goes in 30 year cycles. Everyone’s been on this trendy eighties bullshit for a hot minute, so I think we’re due for the nineties now.”

It would certainly be good timing for the Bristol crew. The ragtag bunch of twenty-something’s classic brand of nineties style beats borrows heavily from the era.

Their influences are pervasive on Scribbled Thoughts – the bands debut album released on Standup Recordz earlier this year – and it’s no surprise to hear every member of the crew grew up on a diet of pure hip-hop. Bill’s mum was always listening to Public Enemy, The Disposable Hero’s of Hiphoprisy, and Blackalcious. Paro’s love for beats began when he found a KRS One cassette at six years old. And Res remembers spending his teenage years at the local skate park with Busta Rhymes, Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla, and Wu Tang blaring out the boombox.

The album was produced by Plymouth production duo Krate Krusaders, whose own mixtape ‘Volume One’ is a lesson in quality hip-hop. “It was a turning point,” says Res of the sessions spent with 1step and Badhabitz, “We’d sit there with a zoot burnin’, find a sample and within ten minutes we had a banger.”

References to weed are a constant presence in the Prophets oeuvre. Though it’s not in any sense a creative catalyst. “It’s more a part of life than my muse,” explains Bill, “It’s Bristol innit, cannabis county!” Res, who penned Mary Jane Skit about the habit, adds: “It has its drawbacks, but we always roll the draw fat.”

But there’s more to Split Prophets than one-dimensional paeans to cannabis. “We’re living in a prism with the vision of the freest / democracy’s hypocrisy properly got us seeing / life like we’re free human beings / but I’m still seeing / guns on these streets that we be in,” raps Res on Stuck in a Strategy.

“I think its good to be socially conscious,” says Res, “but it doesn’t mean you have to rap about it all the time, it gets boring when rappers whinge all the time. Switch it up a bit, have a little whinge and then make some joke party banger”

“You got to write what you feel,” adds Upfront, “If you’re forcing yourself to chat about things you don’t do or aren’t into, it will show in your music.”

And it seems the prolific collective have a lot to talk about. Another album and collaboration with New York rap duo Auxiliary Arms is already planned. And solo projects are due for release, including DatKid’s eagerly awaited Home By Eight.

The southwest itself is a hub for hip-hop at the minute. Local emcees take over a local shop for a few hours in the Tshop Cypha sessions on the first Saturday of every month. There’s a southwest community channel called South Blessed and Internet radio show Sensei FM providing a platform. And the King of Paint gallery showcases local underground art.

“Bristol’s producing some of the sickest shit right now,” says Res, “There’s a tight scene down here at the moment. Everyone’s on the same vibe really, just trying to push the scene and make it stronger – we’re moving like a unit”.

With labels like High Focus forging a strong path, a resurgence in classic UK hip-hop could well be on its way. “The scene is coming strong again,” says Upfront, “a lot of talent coming through. Living in Bris, I’m seeing a lot of change, people are starting to like hip hop again.”

Main photo Credit: Chris Hoare


 Split Prophecy: Bristol’s Next Big Thing

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