In 2003 the attachment of 'MIST' to the production credits of a record still ensures a stamp of quality, after nearly ten years in the business. Since their early efforts for labels such as Flex and their own Intalex Productions, Marcus Intalex and ST Files have provided Drum and Bass with a guarantee of quality over quantity, pushing the envelope at every stage. The word seminal is too often bandied around in dance music but in the case of 1998's 'How You Make Me Feel' for Doc Scott's 31 Records, the description never seemed so fitting. Spawning a legion of admirers and copy cats the unique qualities of MIST's landmark production still reverberates in modern Drum and Bass.
Further releases for Metalheadz and 31 and high profile remixes for the likes of Un.Cut, MJ Cole, Goldie and Solid State re-affirmed MIST's position at the top of the jungle tree. In 2001 the page was turned once more with the birth of Soul:R their critically acclaimed imprint and home to not only their own work but that of Calibre, High Contrast, DJ Marky, D.Kay and host of others. After the success of the Soul:ution EP series, a debut label CD compilation is in the offing, promising cold classics from the back catalogue as well as future bubblers and some very special remixes. This is the year of Soul:R, as MIST take their own constantly forward thinking vision of Drum and Bass to the next level. Look out for more collaboration work with Calibre as MISTICAL, including an exciting vocal project with a Brooklyn based soul singer as well as club favourites 'MISTICAL Dub Part 2' and 'Cold Halo'.
As ever Marcus' DJ-ing has remained uncompromising and hectic of late. Recent visits have been paid to Japan, his residency with DJ Marky in Sao Paolo as well as regular trips to Europe and Soul:R's own residency, Soul:ution in home town Manchester. This is an exciting time for Drum and Bass, as Soul:R's constant focus on quality, ground breaking music is example of. So here's to MIST and their continued dedication to pushing things forward.
A strange phenomenon is causing sweeping change across the US and worldwide. Drum and Bass has always been the birthright of the UK massive and the junglist mc has always been strongly identified as an "English 'ting" . Within the past year MCs Armanni and Sharpness have triggered a new found love in the drum and bass mc out here in the states. Their tour schedule competes with many of the busiest djs , taking them to all points east to west, north to south and everywhere in between. At each event, the atmosphere is re-sparked with a new fire and frenzy when either of the two step up. Their charisma, passion and lyrical agility make them two of the most entertaining and in demand performers in US drum and bass history.
So why now? What makes MCs Armanni and Sharpness stand out from the rest? It may be due to a few reasons but one would have to look into their environment, and take into consideration their education, humility and willingness to learn.
The environment. It's Philadelphia, one of the epicenters of funk, soul and hip hop giving birth to pioneers such as Dj Cash Money, Patti Labelle, The Roots, Jill Scott and many other legendary performers labels and movements. Philly is also home to one of the most active and time honored drum and bass scenes in the US. Philadelphia is home to Substitution, one of the most prolific drum and bass production companies in the country, with over 8 years in the biz booking everyone and their mother at one or more of their 300+ events . Philadelphia is also home to Platinum and Dieselboy. It is in these diverse and historic surroundings that MCs Armanni and Sharpness have come of age.
The education. They have learned only from the best. Much credit can be given to Skibadee for his time, sharing and motivating. Playing alongside veterans such as SS, Kenny Ken, Goldie and others has also accelerated their development. Before Armanni and Sharpness, Philadelphia knew of Substitution's Mis-ty and J-Messinian and PHI's MC Dub2. Pioneers in their own right, each has made his mark in the international arena, playing to thousands of heads from Tokyo to St. Petersburg and Miami to Mexico. With the aggressive support of Substitution, these mcs were able to showcase and foster an mc culture so unique and strong that Philadelphia now boasts of four of the top mcs in the US including the top female mc.
Furthermore you couldn't find two nicer guys. Although they each are dedicated to their passion, there isn't a second in the day they don't find humor in something.
With producers sprouting up in places all over the globe such as New Zealand, Iceland, USA and Japan it could only be a matter of time before reputable dnb mcs, with global appeal, would develop outside of England. Since hip hop has been the most popular transport of mc culture, those outside of the UK experience have found it difficult to grasp the concept of a junglist mc. The tempo, intensity, rhythm and flow of drum and bass make up a whole new ball game. Drum and Bass has it's own message which differs from hip hop and dancehall. It comes from an experience which differs from a suburbanite in middletown USA to even someone from the shanty towns of Sao Paolo. The beauty of drum and bass is that anyone from anywhere may relate to the music through his/her own and unique experience.
The problems with drum and bass mc culture on a Global Scale are the cultural and language barriers. As in the US, MCs such as Skibadee, Dynamite, Rage and others have, in past years, set many a crowd into a wild frenzy but over time, as drum and bass became more mainstream, the less beat minded punter began to infiltrate the ranks. Some of the kids wanted to hear lyrics containing references they could identify with. The mcs that have survived in drum and bass have developed into lyricists and not just hype men. Projects such as the Raw Hill Cru, Platinum Performers and so forth have flipped the script for mcs in drum and bass. The mc culture in drum and bass is a victim of it's own success now that "lyricists = mcs" has made the average punter listen to every word.
As a result there has been less and less of a demand for the original English dnb mc. Not because they lack skill or entertainment value but simply because the global markets, particularly the US, are now developing mcs who can communicate the dnb message in their own language.
This sudden appreciation for the "native tongue" junglist mc is no more evident than in what many have nicknamed the Two Towers; MCs Armanni and Sharpness. Their bounce, vigour, intensity and astute knowledge of dnb music make them a solid team and maximum entertainment. Their talents have caught the attention of many bringing them partnerships with Craze, Goldie, Rap, World of DnB and deals with Gasm, Freak and the new Metalheadz USA Label. They continue to hold residencies at Bassrush(LA), Sonar (Baltimore), Fuzed Funk and Platinum (Philly), Contagious Musiq Monthly (Miami) and all Substitution events.
MCs Armanni and Sharpness have taken things to the next level with their hip hop full length, "On and Poppin" coming out under the moniker Mental Sharp. MC Armanni is the reigning Def Jam/Ruff Ryders mc battle champion which just adds to his accolade of lyrical accomplishments. The prolific studio work, inspired by the Skibadee, has created hits such as Rough, Rugged and Raw, Firemin and the Swarm full length "Enter the Hive".