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Malcom Catto

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With the funk 45 epidemic as widespread as it is, you’d imagine that hip hop’s beat-digging elite have been raiding rare sevens for years. Not necessarily true – ask Malcom Catto, one of London’s foremost authorities on the matter. “In 1994, I went to the states with some copies of Third Guitar to play at the New York Fair,” Catto recalls of the hip hop-holy grail known to fetch over $1000 on eBay. “All these big named rappers and producers are hanging around, I said ‘Fuck it, let me play this brilliant piece of music.’ It finished, and they go ‘What, where’s the break?’ They slagged me off! They said, ‘What would I want that for, that’s my dad’s music!’ ”

Luckily, Catto followed his own father’s musical taste and it put him well ahead of the funk curve. Listening to the progressive New Orleans jazz of Professor Longhair as a youngster primed him to ask the right questions when the fledgling drummer fell into the late-60s punk of The Stooges and Velvet Underground. “I wasn’t listening to any funk drummers, but I always knew there would be funk out there,” Catto reflects. “I was like, ‘I wonder what Professor Longhair was doing in ’69; I wonder what black music was like then?’ ” The answer came through hip hop, which lead him to well-known pieces like Jimmy Smith’s Root Down and later to the seven-inches that would trademark his obsession. “I’d see Marva Whitney’s It’s My Thing LP for, like, 70 quid but the single would be 15,” Catto offers. “So I’d buy the single. The best track always seemed to be on a seven.”

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