The year 2001 was something of a golden age for UK hip-hop. On one side you had Roots Manuva's Run Come Save Me mixing up sound system culture and coded lyricism to maximum potential, and on the other you had the bedsit Malcolm McLaren, Braintax, building an empire with his Low Life label, and his own high-watermark album, Biro Funk.
In the middle of all that you had a posse of crystallised talent called Aspects, who stormed into the picture from their native Bristol with a rabid beats and rhymes hybrid that, looking back, was one of the most unique voices in the middle of our very own hip-hop renaissance.
The Aspects crew had many arms and legs (and mouths, and balls), but core members included MCs El Eye, Bubber Loui, and Probe Mantis. DJ Nu Balance manned the decks, Monkey Moo the beatbox, and Specify rocked the sampler, as 7STU7 attempted to engineer the unholy results. Their debut album, Correct English, was as well turned out as its pithy title. Its mix of strictly vinyl sampling, old-school back-and-forth emceeing, and pop cultural referencing, would also make it massively well received.
"John Peel was one of the first to pick up on what we were doing," says Probe Mantis. "We did a live session for him, which was a big deal. I remember saying I'd be happy if we just sold 1,000 copies of our stuff and got a couple of sweet reviews, but the next thing I know we're NME's Single Of The Week, and being called 'Bristol's Beastie Boys'. It was very weird."
Aspects lived and breathed their hip-hop on a daily basis, and that level of immersion shows in their debut. "It was real to us," says El Eye. "The Punk mindstate, the nerdism, the weed intake, the house breaking hooliganism, the party crashing, the endless banter. The passion was true. We lived it. You can hear that on Correct English. We were living that madness."
UK Rap milestone Correct English is, at long last, available digitally. Go visit your local stockist to get your schooling.
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