Every so often, a group of talented hip hoppers get together and create something rather special, only to then disband shortly afterwards adding another notch on the annuls of hip hop history. In terms of the UK rap scene, THE GUTTERSNYPES did exactly that. If you followed UK hip hop through the early 90s then you will already know that the scene had withered over this period on UK shores. Mainly due to the massive growth of other "dance" genres such as house, hardcore, and drum & bass. Hence the huge commercial success of acts like LONDON POSSE, DEMON BOYS, HIJACK, GUNSHOT, etc. was not being built upon at that time, and as a die-hard hip hop fanatic this was disappointing to experience. Record labels such as KOLD SWEAT deserve a mention as they continued to churn out some good and some not so good releases throughout this period and created quite a confident artist roster. But it all lacked the polish and hype of the equivalent US record releases. And on a limited budget it was a no-brainer which records you were gonna buy that week in the record shop, so I also confess to myself not supporting UK acts at their time of need.
But I remember a time in early '94 when my friend DJ LEACY told me about a UK crew who were putting together an EP and called themselves THE GUTTERSNYPES. In fact he had just sold them his AKAI S950 sampler to add to their arsenal. But even with that heads up, I wasn't prepared for what I was about to hear.
I cannot pinpoint whether it was CHOICE FM or WESTWOOD where I first heard a snippet of "The Trails Of Life" EP on LIBERTY GROOVES RECORDS, but suffice to say it blew my mind when I realised that it was UK hip hop that I was listening to. CEL ONE's rhymes were clever, well constructed and hypnotic, and the bar had been raised immensely in terms of production levels compared to other UK records of that time. The whole package with its 5 killer tracks, choice skits and artistic picture cover became a must-buy record and an instant UK hip hop classic.
"Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the most beautiful and I'm sure for you entertaining as well as pleasant musical utopia. It takes place here on the north, south, east, west side of ... wherever you are ... wherever you are..... wherever you are."
From the banging intro and bouncy beat of "Flatline", to the crisp bassline, funky horns and organ riffs of "Who Fell?", this EP had no sign of any weak sauce whatsoever. And despite the odd critiscism I heard of CEL ONE's accent from the uneducated few, I couldn't find a fault on this release. It was taking UK rap to whole nother level - LIBERTY GROOVES, fronted by Jonny F had seen the potential and made sure the EP came heavy in beats and high on quality. They succeeded. Scratches and cuts were peformed by DJ PRIME CUTS, beats all by SIGHER, and even JEOPARDY aka BIG TED put in a guest vocal on "Nom De Plume". In 94/95 there wasn't a mixtape or radio show or hip hop club that didn't bounce that record on the regular.
LIBERTY GROOVES pressed up various colours of the EP, the white vinyl being the hardest to track down, but it is also available in red, green and even an INSTRUMENTAL version on clear wax (get 'em all!). But also look out for the promo 12" version with their live performance on CHOICE FM. CEL ONE rates highly in my MC book and certainly doesn't disappoint here. It's such a shame these guys didn't release more vinyl - I believe there were various factors involved there, including the fact that CEL lost his father not long after release. SIGHER will fill you in with the details. He has got beats to GO and still rocks the kicks & snares on the regular to this day. As for PRIME CUTS, I'm sure you all know what happened to him!
SIGHER has recently blogged about the history of THE GUTTERSNYPES (click HERE) ; how and when they formed, the details behind the release, and also shares some bonus material from The Snypes. As a taster check out the unreleased track entitled "Ego Trip" below, and be prepared cuz this type of dope shit doesn't come around every day! If you love the TRIALS OF LIFE EP then this is gonna be essential listening. If you never heard of GUTTERSNYPES but like UK rap, then this is gonna be a revelation for you. Thanks to SIGHER.
THE GUTTERSNYPES - "Ego Trip" (Unreleased)
CEL ONE live on CHOICE FM '94