The First Of A Series

From Around The Wall

Hip Hop in the Grove.

This piece, written by Matin Abel, AKA DJ Lews,, is the first of the series.
Offering a unique personal insight into the times and the energy surrounding Hip Hop in The Grove.

The foundation of Hip Hop in the UK came about through the most abstract means: Hip Hop’s grand appearance in the UK came through one particular video – ‘Buffalo Gals’ by Malcolm McLaren, which appeared on Top of The Pops in 1982. Being an adolescent, you can imagine the impact of seeing similar aged kids spinning on their heads, backs and elbows, it would seem impossible not to want to be a part of it. This accompanied by the sounds of a DJ’s scratching of the drum breaks within the record while MCs rhymed over them made it impossible to resist.

As illustrated on the Hip Hop panel “Hand Scratching’ the LP, part of the Portobello Wall public art installation, (the image has a scannable QR code), the first, second, and third Hip Hop recordings that graced the UK were all recorded by artists local to the Ladbroke Grove area​. This gave London another remarkable piece of history unique to this bizarrely magnetic artistic haven.  But that is only if Buffalo Gals was recorded in the US, otherwise, that would make them second, third and fourth to the Buffalo Gals LP. ‘Christmas Rapping’ by Dizzy Heights, ‘London Bridge’ by Newtrament, followed by ‘The Hip Hop Beat’ by Whizz Kid and the Rapologists, were the foundational Hip Hip tunes in the UK.

It appears that Dj’s such as Mono Man, Newtrament, Froggy, Nelly Hooper, Miles and Mushroom from The Wild Bunch, and Krew, were very much paralleling what was happening in the Bronx. These two sets of DJ’s from different parts of the UK (Notting Hill/ Ladbroke Grove,  London, and Montpellier, Bristol) naturally found each other and played many sets together in London since there were so few others around. Ladbroke Grove and much of West London became the Mecca for Hip Hop.

This was evidenced by the frequent visits to the area by The Rocksteady Crew, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, The Jungle Brothers, Brim, Futura 2000 and a host of other New York artists from as early as the late ’70s. Ladbroke Grove was certainly an attractive force for Hip Hop.

The fact that Rough Trade Records sold weekly mixtapes of New York’s WBLS and Kiss FM Hip Hop radio shows featuring Marley Marl, Afrika Islam’s Zulu Beats show, and Mr. Magic’s Hip Hop show helped integrate the two cultures with the US borrowing from its second cousin Punk Rock.  At the 1983 Carnival Vivian Goldman, a Punk journalist, compared Acklam Road and Ladbroke Grove with ‘Brooklyn and the Bronx’. This is the avenue in which graffiti artist Futura 2000 came to record the single ‘The Escapades of Futura 2000’ with The Clash.

If you cast your minds back to the 90’s you will have seen, while traveling on the train between Westbourne Park Station and Ladbroke Grove Station, breakdance crews BreakJam, Krew, Cosmic Rockers, and graffiti artists, Chase, The Chrome Angels, Kane, Foam, 1UP, Demo and Skam One’s work, surrounding the Futura 2000 shrine. This was before it was desecrated then covered up by the Sony BaySixtysix skate park that, along with the Subterrania club, capitalised on the young energy that the street had created to officialise the Acklam walk. 

It aids the point to mention that an early Hip Hop DJ, Whizz Kid, graced the Acklam Hall club in the eighties, further schooling the young local kids on the culture.

Images By
Victor Novais, AKA Dj Kuku
Matin Abel, AKA DJ Lews, Angel,