The Horns of Jericho – Hijack Wednesday 21 September, 2011

Listen to this and you’ll understand that this is a truly important album. Never mind what Idris told you (or rather didn’t tell you) while he wore that stupid hat. This album is the key milestone in the development of hip hop in this country…

In order to understand why it is important we need to take a trip back in time.  We’ll call up Doc Brown and tell him to gun it to 88 and hopefully he’ll take us to some time around the late eighties or the very early nineties.

Forget about what you know of Hip Hop as it exists now in 2011, back in the late eighties/early nineties it was still viewed as a dangerous and unpleasant fad that was very American.  Only one of those things is correct. It was and to a large extent still is VERY American.  What can I say though. I still loved it. I didn’t really understand most of what was being talked about on the records I loved. I certainly didn’t really understand the slang.  The music though.  I understood the music.  Even all of these years later I still love Hip Hop. If Hip Hop was a lady then she and my ears were made for each other.  Ahem…I digress…where was I now?…oh yes, VERY American.

Imagine the delight then, of hearing a rap record that used my slangs and name-checked places I know.  It was thrilling.  Here were these blokes from London making a rap record that was every bit as vital as the output from the USA and if truth be told in most cases much more vital.

The first time I heard Hijack was a record called Style Warriors Revenge.  Musically it’s a fearsome re-working of Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s Blow Your Head (yes P.E. got there first but not quite like this!).  This song also features the immortal line “yeah mental, I like this mate, I used to be in to Acid but I’m into H-Hijack now”.  Which probably doesn’t mean too much today but back when it was released it perfectly summed the way many ravers embraced hip hop.

Style Warrior’s Revenge is still a great record and when it was released it was a tantalising glimpse into what this group was capable of.  So with baited breath we waited for more. Then we waited some more. Tim Westwood (who was still massively credible and didn’t have an embarrassing voice) regularly promised the album release was going to happen soon but still we waited. Then in a bizarre twist of fate Ice-T signed Hijack to his Rhyme Syndicate label and released the album. I was never particularly a fan of Ice-T but for that one action I will be forever grateful to him.

The album is blistering from start to finish. It’s showcases rock solid production skills, some incredible scratching technique and some virtuoso rhyme skills.  In fact so distinctive was the mic style on display here that many of you will have heard the vocal samples appear on much less worthy dance records over the years.  I don’t want to try and single out tracks for praise because this is pretty much gold from start to finish.

More than anything this album has real attitude.  It is one of the great shames that it was not more commercially successful.  Not that I wanted it to be a populist smash hit but for it to have made enough money to keep the guys in the studio for a second outing would have been wonderful.  I have often contemplated why it was not backed more effectively by the record label.  I have a suspicion that it may have been around the same time that Ice-T was embroiled in some controversy over his lyrics with body count.  The most disappointing thing is that the label didn’t realise what a gem of a product it had in it’s grubby little mitts.

If you have any interest in hip hop history you could do a lot worse than giving this album a spin.  If you don’t want to turn ‘I Had To Serve You’ up very loud then you should probably find somebody to take your pulse.

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  • Lovegrove says:

    Also worth noting that ‘Style Warriors Revenge’ was recorded after the original version of the LP. As Warner were taking so long to release it, the group went into the studio to do this cut. I was lucky enough to have a cassette dub of the album way before it was released, and subsequently was the same version that was later released on Reservoir Records:

    ‘I Had to Serve You’ has a different title of ‘Kamanchi Sly = MC2 (squared)’ and is one of my favorite cuts on both versions of the LP, the tune is different too… as are some of the other titles, plus there’s extra tracks.

    • geekspeller says:

      Nice info. Cheers. Glad to see there are still a few of us who know what it’s all about! Did you see the man’s tweet today saying he’s hitting his new album hard! I want that to be very good…and not the pied piper!

  • Spanksen says:

    One of my favorite Albums of all time!

    • geekspeller says:

      It’s a gem isn’t it!. It’s criminal that it’s not more well known. I have to admit that I’m shocked it made it over to you there though.

  • Vinni mc says:

    The greatest of all time! Luv

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