Welcome to the second part of the series of articles documenting the musical achievements of Milton Keynes\Buckingham Hip Hop collective The Criminal Minds. In the second chapter we will focus on the period between 1991-1992 and the groups transition from a Hip Hop collective in to a pioneering Rave\Hardcore crew. To re-visit part one of the article please click on the below link:
The Criminal Minds, 1992.
By 1991 TCM had firmly established themselves as a local musical force and were busy performing and promoting their debut EP “Guilty as charged“. The TCM live shows consisted of a mixture of pre released materiel but also featured new recordings and remixes with a greater presence from rap vocalists CMD and Safe D who together with MC Iceski united to form TCM‘s vocal line up. In a previous interview MC Iceski recalls one of the groups early live shows in Campbell park, Milton Keynes:
The gig we did at “May Daze” festival in 1991 stands out as one of my favourites from the early days. That was the first time we played at a big event & it was amazing, we got mad props & the live set was a killa!
(MC Iceski Interview, Break to the beat, 2011).
“May Daze” event flyer – Campbell park, Milton Keynes, 1991.
In 1991 TCM also began recording new materiel and planning a follow up release to “Guilty as charged“. The first incite in to the groups new project came in the form of what is now referred to as “Systems overload (Original demo)” which was circulated prior to the groups second official release and spread through the Hip Hop community by way of 90s tape culture. The recording which can be heard below was eventually released in 2011 as part of a double CD entitled “T.C.M” on Rephlex:
The Criminal Minds “Systems overload (Original demo)” – Rephlex, 2011.
In late 1991 TCM independently released their second vinyl EP entitled “Tales from the wasteland” which contained four new compositions (Systems overload, Illegal procedure, Tales from the wasteland, Prepare for the holocaust) with a picture sleeve designed by artist Steve Sampson. The back of the record sleeve also contains a collection of flyers, photos, previous releases and forms a loose biography of TCM‘s achievements up to the time of its release.
The Criminal Minds – “Tales from the wasteland artwork” – TCM Records, 1991.
The four recordings from the “Tales from the wasteland” EP can be heard in the below youtube playlist and collectively feature vocal performances by MC Iceski, Safe D, CMD, scratches by DJ Halo and production by Spatts. The official version of “Systems overload” differs slightly form the above demo version as does the the recording of “Prepare for the holocaust” which originally formed part of TCM‘s demo cassette tape released in the late 1980s and documented in part one of the article.
The Criminal Minds “Tales from the wasteland playlist” – 1991 TCM Records.
“Tales from the wasteland” was well received and local support for TCM continued to build in both the music press and the record shops who assisted with promoting and selling TCM vinyl records and merchandise. One particular record shop called “World Beats” located in Wolverton during the early 1990s played a pivotal role in TCM‘s national success by encouraging the group to fuse their Hip Hop musical foundations with the emerging Hardcore\Dance styles of the UK Rave scene.
World Beats record shop – Wolverton square, Milton Keynes, Early 1990s.
In 1992 DJ\Producer and record shop owner Picci set up the World Beats Corporation record label and released “The inspired generation EP” by World Beating System featuring The Criminal Mindz. The EP consisted of four recordings in total (Dance of the parasites, Ecstasy (Of love), Flying (On a natural high), Last train from llanfair…goch), the first of which was a guest track specifically created by TCM for the release that also featured a black & white picture sleeve as shown in the below slideshow:
World Beating System feat TCM “The inspired generation EP” – World Beats, 1992.
Not only is “Dance of the parasites” a great example of a transition that began to happen during the early 1990s between British Hip Hop and Dance music it also acts a pivotal recording for TCM who began to develop a unique style that fused elements of their musical foundations with the emerging rave culture. “Dance of the parasites” still featured DJ Halo‘s signature scratching with a brief snippet of TCM rap vocals taken from a previous recording entitled “Our music is a mission“.
World Beating System feat TCM “Inspired generation playlist” – World Beats, 1992.
“The inspired generation EP” which can be heard in the above youtube playlist began to create opportunities for both TCM and the World Beat Corporation record label. A follow up 12″ single release by TCM entitled “Baptized by dub\Virtual reality” was recorded and released shortly after. Side A of the release “Baptized by dub” contains several sample elements previously used in TCM‘s early Hip Hop recordings with vocal intro\outro’s performed by TCM‘s rappers and signature scratches by DJ Halo.
The Criminal Minds “Baptized by dub\Virtual reality playlist” – World Beats, 1992.
There is a noticeable change in direction towards dance music when comparing “Baptized by dub\Virtual reality” to TCM‘s previous releases which resulted in national recognition for the group. The original 12″ single released on World Beats sold out quickly and was repressed shortly after by White House Records who TCM continued to work with on several follow up releases. The first collection of new recordings were released as an EP entitled “A vision of dread” and can be heard in the below playlist:
The Criminal Minds “A vision of dread playlist” – White House, 1992.
TCM producers Spatts and Halo progressed further towards dance music when creating the “A vision of dread” EP which fuses a selection of reggae, hip hop and dance music samples reminiscent of what is now considered early drum & bass. TCM‘s final release of 1992 also entitled “Baptized by dub” was released shortly after on White House Records as a four track EP containing a picture sleeve designed by founding TCM member and pioneering graffiti artist Chase One.
Baptized by dub EP artwork – Chase One, 1992.
The EP which can be heard in the below youtube playlist contained three brand new compositions (Re-Baptized by dub, Flynny’s theme, Headhunter 1) plus the original version of Baptized by dub and propelled TCM to the forefront of the UK Rave scene alongside artists such as The Prodigy and Sonz of a loop da loop era. Although the “Baptized by dub” EP sold a substantial amount of units upon its initial release it was also repressed again in 2017 due to popular demand.
The Criminal Minds “Baptized by dub playlist” – White House, 1992.
This concludes the second part of our series of TCM articles. As 1992 drew to a close TCM had progressed from independently releasing their own records and performing on the local live circuit to negotiating international vinyl releases and performing at national live events. The dynamic of the group has also restructured slightly during the transition from Hip Hop music to Rave with the DJs becoming the prominent musical force and the MCs hosting the live shows.
For further information on The Criminal Minds please see:
- The Criminal Minds (TCM) Part Three
- The Criminal Minds (TCM) Part One
- Chaos 2
- Chase One
- Sin One
- Task One
- 32 Troop
- 2 Minds
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