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Baker's Dozen

Sonic Cinematography: Neneh Cherry's Favourite Albums
Helen King , February 27th, 2014 05:30

Following the release of her new album Blank Project and ahead of shows at Field Day and Sonar Barcelona, Neneh Cherry talks Helen King through her all-time top LPs


A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm
That record really represents a time and place for me. It's the point at which rap reached another consciousness, and a poetic course. I just found it so uplifting, but that's a very naff word! It was very interesting, because of course with MC-ing, and the actual idea of rap, there's a long, long thread into history there: you just have to look to the Creoles, to Africa, the importance of the spoken word. But a lot of the early MC-ing was "of the self": advertising yourself, working your name, all that. Then something happened with rappers like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. It was like rap took a very conscious step out. That album, People's Instinctive Travels..., is a very musical album, a very accessible album. It's timeless. It still sounds fresh.

I've often rambled on about what I see as a very strong parallel between the punk thing and the hip-hop thing: they may be in different universes but they're of the same tribe of creativity. Therefore in equal doses they've both been so important to me.

I had this conversation with Afrika Baby Bam [founding member of hip-hop trio Jungle Brothers] recently, about how he first started making music. He was grounded at the time, locked in his house - he was like 12 or 13 or something - and he heard Run DMC on the radio. He was like: "SHIT! I can do that! I wanna do that!" He literally spent however long he was grounded for taping things off the radio – he started doing some regenerating thing with cassette players, so consequently he was taping from one cassette player to another, and he made a beat, then was making loops from some things off the radio. When you go and see some perfect, stadium-type gig, and then you experience something that's actually part of who you are and where you come from - for instance, I would go to clubs, but not so much uptown, because instead I was hanging out in Queensbridge Projects - I feel, I know this.