Recently Itch FM has resurfaced online with Twitter, Facebook and Youtube chronicling its past and pushing those still flying the flag for UKHH. With a few of the old heads such as Biggerman championing and leading a mini-movement to bring the station back in some shape or form. If that happens, who knows what guise it will take in the future but it certainly deserves more recognition than it gets. With DJs such as MK and IQ alongside many others having shows, it played a huge part in establishing careers for some of the pivotal players in todays scene. Running for 7 years, a whos who of artists, DJs and producers passed through its varying North London studios and many believed, due to the strength of the management team and the professionalism shown throughout, that it was a legal station. Itch even had adverts in Hip Hop Connection!
Reminiscing about the "good old days" I went digging through some boxes and found a few gems amongst the junk. From classic albums, to flyers, posters and sleeve notes and photos all from around 2002 to 2007 it charts a pretty important time for UK rap music and it's great to have been involved, no matter how small a role I played.
The first UK Hip hop jam I ever went to was a night in Cambridge called Rawganics at The Junction. Every month the very best UK artists would perform and the vibes were truly amazing, one of the few UK Hip Hop nights with a fair few girls and with US acts also passing through it was one of the destinations for Hip hop fans in the South East, especially outside of London and Brighton.
I conducted my first ever interview backstage there with Terra Firma. Under the alias Orsini (don't ask) I interviewed Klashnekoff, Kyza and Skriblah pre- Sagas and Murda in Parrowdice. I was 16 and the writing is pretty abysmal but a great experience. I would go on to work with Kemet after that interview and was fortunate enough to be at the mastering session for The Sagas Of... record with A-Cyde and others. Sagas is arguably the best UK rap record to this day and will be looked back upon and revered for its influence for many years to come. The artwork of this release is what stands out to me now, looking at the 12" release for 'Murda In Parrowdice' you can see the professionalism and quality put into the release, pretty unrivalled in todays world of digital only output.
Continuing to work with Kemet over the next five years, I'd help organise, promote and produce their annual birthday bashes and would also work on their Lost City mix cd releases, which for anyone who has them, are pure fire. The first being hosted by Skinnyman is pretty amazing and still holds its own today.
I could lament about this period of UK music for a very long time, and Itch are now picking up the slack and as such you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube digging out old footage, stickers, tape packs and much more. In recent weeks plenty of the old heads have been talking about the station and it makes me proud to have been a part of the movement and associated with the crew during my formative years. With the likes of MK posting old shows on his Mixcloud and discussing the growth and success of the station, it still holds weight, it is relevant and provided the best pre-digital platform for UK Hip Hop.
Over the next few weeks I'll be digging through more of the old archive and posting about UK rap from 2002 to 2008, delving a little deeper than the classic cuts by Task Force, Jehst etc.