woensdag 23 februari 2011

24K; the path of the righteous

Being from pretty much the south of the country, I didn't have the money or the means to check out the national rap acts in the west of Holland at that certain point in time ('90/'91/'92). So the first live rap performances I checked out were pretty much the local acts like D.A.M.N., NORTHSIDE STYLAZ, DOPE POSSE, BUGAS etc. etc. But hold on....these were some great groups and the hip hop scene was vibrant as hell in the Brabant provence....reckonize! The group that really stood out at that time and kinda rolemodelled for the rest was 24K from Eindhoven...a crew that 'till this very day doesn't get the props it deserves.The in 2002 published so called bible of dutch rap history "Van Brooklyn naar Breukelen" doesn't even drop 5 lines on 24K....that's just plain disgracefull in my opinion. So y'all know what I need to do right? Here goes....

February 1989....the group 24K was formed by 4 individuals who all were already doing their thing in hip hop for some time. DJ WAN-2, who had been dj-ing for some years and was an excellent breakdancer aswell, just had left the group D.A.M.N. and hooked up with beatcreator and dj ZAR-1. A rapper was found when bumping into ENB, an American guy who was living in Holland for some time. MC FIXX IT shortly joined the crew but was soon after releaved of duty due to a lack of rap ability. When searching for another rapper that could match the skills of ENB, the answer came when ARC-S was seen performing with his group TDL-POSSE (The Living Dream). The thunderous voice and CHUCK D like delivery made ARC-S the missing piece of the 24K puzzle.

Check ARC-S rapping on this 1988 TDL-POSSE demo track "As my dream goes on" (this track re-appeared on 24K's first album in a new version):

The various rapcrews in the west of Holland mostly had b-boyish, braggadocious repertoire. 24K decided, like D.A.M.N., to take a more social conscious path with their music. The songs they wrote during this time have messages regarding topics like the use of drugs, apartheid and racism, politics, use of violence etc. Influenced clearly by the likes of PUBLIC ENEMY but without the black militant attitude.

DJ WAN-2 - ENB - ARC-S - ZAR-1

The group started making demo tracks and sending them to various record companies....without any luck ofcourse because it was common belief that there wasn't a big enough market for hardcore rap. If it wasn't for a young lady working in a record shop in their hometown Eindhoven we might have never heard of 24K. It was SASKIA SLEGERS who loved the demo and was amazed by the fact that this quality in rap music was around in her city. Annoyed by the fact that recordcompanies totally ignored the group, she decided to step up and release the album her damnself. 24K took their demos to "Tango Studio" in Eindhoven and the record got produced and mixed. Musicproducers in that time were totaly clueless on making decent sounding rap music so the groupmembers had to be present each step of the way to avoid their music getting fucked up. Allthough it is still said that ZAR-1's beats, as made on his Amiga 500, didn't find their way onto vinyl sounding as they should have been.
SASKIA SLEGERS eventually had 3500 copies of the album pressed (1989), and called her recordcompany DJAX. She managed to distribute the album by driving around Holland in a busted up car...accepting the fact that the distributors would only pay her for the records when they actually had been sold to the public.

Saskia Slegers

DJAX recordlabel logo

The first pressing of the album "No enemies" sold out within a week, mainly due to their ever increasing fanbase in the south of Holland. This gained them recognition and a lot of performances around the country. The Dutch media hailed the release as being the first Dutch rap album, which wasn't exactly true as there had already been albums out by MC MIKER G ('87), URBAN DANCE SQUAD ('89) and D.A.M.N. ('89). Abroad the release made some noise in Germany, Switserland, Spain and even reached no. 18 on Tim Westwood's black music list in England.

24K, as drawn by famous
Swedish graffiti artist Pike

Allthough the album obviously had no single track released seperate as a 12" record....it was definately the title track of the album "No enemies" that almost became an anthem in the Dutch rap scene. The trademark sample was taken off the track "Love buzz" by famous Dutch rock group SHOCKING BLUE. The track defines exactly what 24K stood for:

“People, look at yourself! Your colour doesn’t matter. Be proud of yourself. No one is better. Don’t let violence, poverty destroy your ability! Strive for peace. We have no enemies!”

If you don't know the track then shame on you and check it out here:

Early 1990 the album was followed by a 12" release called "Twenty four ways". The vinyl holds the new tracks "Twenty four ways" and "Distribution of drugs" but also a great remix of "No enemies". On the title track features ENB's American cousin, a rapper called SHAKESPEARE. This guy dropped an album in 1989 called "My old jams still slam" which I personally recommend to everyone (it's really hard to find though!)
Grab a rip of the 12" right here:

The 12" made sure the public's anticipation of a second album was kept on a high level. Unfortunately big trouble hit paradise when rapper ARC-S totally dissapeared without family and friends knowing where he was. It turned out ARC-S had trouble coping with his career as a rapper and combining it with his regular life, and had "run off" to his motherland at the Antillian Islands. It would take him 10 years to return...

The rest of the group decided they wanted to keep going as 24K and release a second album.  To replace ARC-S they choose rapper D-ROCK a.k.a. C-MC. D-ROCK had been a member of underground respected rap act MELLOW MC'S and could hold his own on the mic.

In 1992 the long awaited second album by 24K was a fact...."Words....yet unspoken"....again on the DJAX recordlabel. Unfortunately previous successes could not be repeated; the 1989 fanbase was diminished due to house music taking over the last few years. The remaining fans were expecting more "No enemies" and were dissapointed by the sound of the new album. In my opinion this is all a damn shame because the second album definately had his highlights as can be heard for example in this track right here:

A dissapointed ZAR-1 left the group soon after and D-ROCK moved on becomming the rapper of eurohouse act 2 BROTHERS ON THE 4TH FLOOR. DJ WAN-2 formed a DJ duo called SPINMASTERS with DJ WAXBUTTER (previously of rapgroup WHITE WOLF), playing eclectic sets of house, rap, funk etc. He's also know for producing the famous track "Incredible" by GENERAL LEVY, a jungle music anthem. In recent years he had some succes with his production of tracks for Dutch underground rapper KEMPI.
I don't have a clue where ENB went from here...

Here's some live video footage of ENB performing with DJ WAN-2 in 1992, just before 24K finally dissolved:

DJ WAN-2 and ARC-S at one time reunited for a single 24K performance at the "Back to planet rock" mass hip hop event in Eindhoven...it was pretty cool to see after all those years.

8 opmerkingen:

  1. Reacties
  2. Respect to DJ WAN-2, friend and teacher.

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