Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Phatt Bwoy - Wide Load Mixtape


Who is the Phatt Bwoy?

This tape started out as a real mystery for me and, to be honest, despite scouring the net, chatting with some of those involved in it and even calling the number on the tape's label I am still none the wiser. I don't remember it at all from the time it was released - don't recall seeing it in any shops and have never seen it for sale since, despite keeping an eagle eye out for it. Hell, I don't even know anything about this Phatt Bwoy dude other than he was apparently 16 at the time he made it (and that's only a fact if you believe the things you read in YouTube comments boxes!)

A long list of exclusives
I got put onto the tapes existence around the time I was writing an article on The Making of Premonitions with Evil Ed back in 2010. I stumbled across a very small Ed-produced portion of it on the UK Producer's own YouTube Channel just sitting there incognito. The fact I am a completest and it had a nice little exclusive freestyle from my favourite era of YNR output meant it quickly moved to (near) the top of my UK hip hop mixtape wants list. Fast-forward four years and a bit of luck and some sorting out from a man with many connections and it has fallen into my hands long enough to tape-to-tape it and get a decent label scan before returning the OG to its rightful owner!

Dial for details?
When Wideload was released in 2000 the days of the cassette Walkman were numbered. Hours of pausing, retakes, and tape-tangle frustration were not far from being replaced by instant iTunes playlists and quick and easy CD burning. But back then making mixes on tape was a right of passage for any aspiring bedroom DJ. Indeed my personal tape collection
West Country Repped by JD
is filled with my own embarrassing efforts from around the same time. Countless TDKs stacked in the corner of my room take me back to a time of painfully pieced together pause-button mixes, self drawn covers and seriously dubious track listings!

Gunshott freestyled
On first listen I was certain that this was how the tape had been made - some dude with a bedroom set-up and an impressive knack at networking, calling in the favours from everyone he knew. Wideload is one of those mixes that perfectly sums up the Lo-Fi D.I.Y-style of so many at the time - ie the hiss is snake-pit loud. It is more than a little rough around the edges - a close listen through will reveal all kinds of poorly timed beat changes, skipping records and freestyle trip-ups. So I was pretty surprised when I found out it was actually a studio production!

Cappo Featured
But despite the sound quality the truly impressive aspect of the tape is the incredible list of exclusive contributions and freestyles this mysterious teenage turntablist managed to pull in. Alongside his own (pretty reasonable) freestyle contributions that drop in over a bunch of very recognisable major label US beats, he has also managed to gather together a bunch of exclusives and freestyles from the cream of the crop of UK Lyricists of the time. The likes of Gunshot, Jehst, Tommy Evans, Asaviour, Junior Disprol, Cappo, Probe Mantis, Sir Beanz, Koaste and Deftex all feature.

I caught up with one of those contributors (Brighton's own Koaste) and hooked him up with a rip of the tape via the wonders of the interweb. He had the following to say...

Koaste reminisces...
"Had a listen to that tape last night. I remember going up to London from Brighton to record it. I can't remember exactly where it was, some recording studio somewhere, but I remember Gunshot were there at the same time to record their bit. I'd met Mercs and Alkaline a year or so before I think, so that was cool. These guys were rappers I looked up to, so it was kind of a big thing for me to be in the studio with them, especially as I must have been eighteen or so I'd imagine.

"Can't really remember much about the recording session itself, but I remember getting the tape through the post, and being fucking gutted that Phatt Boy had managed to loop the first half of my verse, the pre-written bit completely off beat. I remember I had to record my vocals over just a metronome click, which I thought was pretty weird, but when I heard the result, I was fuming. As for the actual freestyle, shiiiit I sound retarded. I used to think I was okay at freestyling. If that was as good as I got, I'm going senile... Ha ha...Thanks for digging it up though man. Blast from the past."

Fill ya boots people - but expect more hiss, snap, crackle and pop than a rice crispies and coca-cola breakfast.