On the radar: The Ordinary Allstars
Edinburgh hip-hop. It just doesn't sound right, does it?
Built on a foundation of archaic patronage and private school opulence, the capital's reputation for embracing modernity is woefully lacking. To Auld Reekie's haute-culture, progress is a stinking wretch of a word; safety is the name of the game.
But deep within the city's underbelly a revolution is gestating. Led by the hyper driven beats of NME darlings Young Fathers, a scene that was all but dead has filled its lungs and clenched its fists. Edinburgh hip-hop is ready for the fight.
At the fore of this rejuvenation is The Ordinary Allstars, an outfit determined to use geographical preconceptions to their advantage:
"People don't really expect hip-hop to come out of Scotland, but that can give you some freedom because you don't have the same traditional stereotypes to follow or adhere to," explains rhyme-spitter-in-chief MC Hasta. "That's the beauty of it, we can use it as a template to communicate in the way we want, without necessarily having the same rules to follow as you would elsewhere."
An old-school group with new-school ideas, The Ordinary Allstars cast hooks so big they could slay a Great White. Despite this polished veneer, there's no sign of the chauvinistic bravado attributed to the genre's more renowned figureheads.
"Of course it's gonna sound clichd, but we genuinely started out just writing and playing for our own amusement, with no pressure at all," enthuses Hasta. "Even though we're starting to take it a bit more seriously, it's still just a chance to really have fun with the music, and enjoy performing what we like. There's nothing better than seeing people reacting positively to what you're doing"
Born from a long-term writing partnership between Hasta and (the wonderfully monikered) Fuzz, the quintet's current incarnation has been in operation for six months. Since then, their live shows have mesmerised audiences via a medium that's too often lacking in modern-era hip-hop: instruments.
"I don't think too many people are making hip-hop live any more…but we're still rocking up with old-fashioned instruments," blurts Hasta. "On stage that adds more of a dynamic than having just a vocalist with a backing track or DJ – you're seeing the music being created right in front of you and that's exciting. It's funny, 'cos you wouldn't say that was a difference in a lot of genres, but with hip-hop it really is."
In terms of future ambitions, Hasta remains typically realistic: "I want a Mercury Music Prize," he jests. "But really, it would be nice to tour around a bit, see some cool places and put out some records that people are keen to have in their collection."
It may sit unsteady with the Edinburgh elite, but The Ordinary Allstars could well be the city's safest bet.
• For more on Scotland's best new musical talent, visit the Under the Radar blog
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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