One of the most recognized and beloved voices of the North American drum
'n' bass scene, MC Question Mark is one of the original driving force of
the still-growing sound on these shores.
Raised in the tough suburb of Peckham southeast London, England, Question
Mark, Andrew Morgan moved to Los Angeles, California officially in
1991/1992. Pushed to the United States on the insistence of his parents,
it was a way to get Question Mark out of the distracting elements of his
surroundings and encouraging him to attend college Stateside.
Prior to the move, however, Question Mark was immersed in the acid house
and techno scene that was blossoming in the United Kingdom. From 1988 to
1991, he spent most of his time going back and forth between the two
countries. During this period he experienced the effects of the infamous
Summer of Love (1987-1988). 808 State and the KLF were among the artists
who had their lasting effect on the young ears of the impressionable lad.
Additionally he spent a great deal of time at reggae sound systems,
particularly that which Soul II Soul emerged from, the Coxson Sound
System. Rare groove from Norman Jay and another sound system, Family
Function, brought the soul and jazz element into his consciousness.
In April of 1992, the fateful visit to what has now become an institution
and one of the starting places of the drum 'n' bass scene was made. Sunday
Roast was held one a Sunday afternoon from noon 'til six pm, in time to
get you home for Sunday dinner. Question Mark made his first pilgrimage
the event at its original location in Linford Studios. It was here that
first heard the sounds of MCing through veteran MC, Moose. There was an
immediate connection to this medium for Question Mark. It was the musical
direction he was leaning towards the strongest.
At Sunday Roast was the first time he heard drum 'n' bass heavy hitters,
Fabio, Grooverider, Jumping Jack Frost, DJ Ron, among others. The Jungle
Fever dances at the Edge Club in Coventry, England were another source
inspiration. Pirate radio stations fueled the new fascination even more.
Taping programs from these stations and bringing them back to Los Angeles,
Question Mark took the sounds of MC Det, Randall, Kool FM everywhere with
him. His friends kept him supplied with fresh music by sending him tapes
Says Question Mark of those times: "Those were the dark times. I would
jump in an airplane, get to London at two o'clock in the afternoon, go
the party, jump back on the plane the following noon, Sunday or wait 'til
Monday morning and then leave. Fly home to dance.'
The early '90s, Question Mark started hearing the fresh sounds of drum
bass making their way to Los Angeles. Through a college friend he was told
about native Angelino DJ R.A.W. who was playing the type of sound that
Question Mark was craving.
I went to a real small D&B event, real nasty, rough, all graffiti.
in the sense of generally tore up, not good," remembers Question Mark
his first meeting with R.A.W. "The way they were playing it, the music
the same but there was no MC, didn't have the same vibe."
Offering his services, Question Mark just stepped up and did it. He MCed
freestyle, along the lines of MCs over dubplates at a reggae sound system.
Things took off from there. He began doing local parties with R.A.W. as
his DJ. During this time he also met drum 'n' bass enthusiast and
publisher of URB Magazine Raymond Roker. When Roker started the first West
Coast drum 'n' bass weekly night, Science, he asked Question Mark to be
the resident MC.
During his time at Science, Question Mark go to meet and MC over the top
names in the genre: Krust, Dynamite MC, Doc Scott, Bryan Gee, Jumping Jack
Frost, J Majik. But it wasn't until another event that he got to meet the
source of his motivation, MC Moose.
I told Moose that he's the reason that I got into MCing," says Question
Mark. "After [Moose] heard me perform, he told me I am the one who
going to hold the Americas because I'm living out here and I'm doing the
MC bit with jungle music. Coming from him, that may be the most
influential thing an individual has said to me in the drum 'n' bass world.
It gave me the fire to continue to do what I was doing. I felt I was on
the right path."
Atmosphere nights at the Viper Room in Los Angeles also had Question Mark
as their resident MC. In the meantime, he was making his name across the
continent playing places like Hawaii, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver,
Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Detroit, New York, Miami, San Juan Puerto
Rico, Little Rock, Tampa, Atlanta, West Virginia, Austin, Toronto,
Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, San Deigo to mention a few.
The response from the crowds was encouraging and funny at the same time.
" People were just like, 'Wow, drum 'n' bass is so understandable when you
have an MC," he says. "I heard people saying, 'How do you know
beats are coming in? How do know when it's going to break? Do you know
every track?' It's just a feeling. I'll have never heard a dubplate but
after a few bars, the breakdown, I know where the breaks are coming in
track. I try and live it. All my stuff is freestyle, I do not write
lyrics. It truly comes from my heart."
As the drum 'n' bass scene kept growing so did Question Mark's profile.
opened for Roni Size/Reprazent and has MCed for the likes of Andy C., Ed
Rush, Fierce, NICO, Trace, Bailey, DJ Ink, Loxy, John B., Bad Company,
Magick, A Guy Called Gerald, DJ Rap, Jumping Jack Frost, Bryan Gee, Ben
Wyatt, Dom and Roland, Doc Scott, Goldie, DJ SUV, DJ Die, Simon "Bassline"
Smith, DJ SS, Fabio, Kenny Ken, Lemon D, Dillinga, Swift, Friction .
Domestic talent such as DJ Craze, Dieselboy, Dara, DB, AK1200, JuJu, UFO!,
Sage, Hive, Phantom 45, Fury, Danny the Wildchild, DJ Phix, XXXL , Subflo,
DJ Machete, and DJ Scooba have all had the benefit of his talents.
" I want to take it to the masses. The masses need to know that this is
side," he states. "I've heard this statement: Drum 'n' bass is
music that came out of England that was truly from the streets, a London
ghetto boy type music. Some people think of Peckham as the ghetto. I'm
representing that ghetto, but I'm representing it as a whole sound. I want
people in the world to know that even the ghetto has an artistic impact."
What’s next? Learning the ropes in the studio with the help of Los
Angeles native Subflo (Mix 'n' Blen) he sees his future as more on the
production sides of things.
" In time, there will be younger MCs who will take over from the older
generation of MC who have been out there," he says. "I've been
doing it so
long; it would be such a hard fall to just totally turn my back on the
game. I want to have some sort of artistic impact, even if I'm not going
out on the streets or playing. When I do come out, it comes correct
immediately. There is some wonderful talent out there. If everybody could
see that, this music could be as big as hip hop. Right now, I'm just
MCing. The deal is getting everybody hooked. I want everybody to be as
hooked in this music as I am hooked in this music."