Krash Slaughta guests at one of the last nights of Headspin
‘It was the video for [Malcolm McLaren’s] “Buffalo Gals” that first got me into hip hop,’ says Paul Smith, aka Krash Slaughta. ‘I remember it had The Rock Steady Crew breakdancing in it, and I loved that, so I became a breakdancer myself.’ It wasn’t just the b-boy crew’s moves which Smith appreciated, though. ‘I was curious about the scratching sounds too, about where they came from. So, like a lot of people my age, I started out pause-button mixing and educating myself musically.’
This was Livingston in the 1980s, so hardly the milieu that you’d expect the average hip hop kid of the era to emerge from. Yet still Smith managed to hook up with people who shared similar tastes and interests, and in the latter part of the decade he was part of Glasgow hardcore rap outfit II Tone Committee, who gained recognition at the time for their movement into the then virgin territory of UK hip hop. He reels off a list of influences of the time – Jurassic 5, Public Enemy, KRS-One, Cash Money (‘the best DJ ever, man’), Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash – but also held an interest in 2-Tone itself.
‘I got into this by accident really,’ he says, more than a bit modestly. ‘What happened was, I took a bag of records to Riverside Studios in Glasgow and built a downbeat hip hop track called “Always Remain Hardcore” from a bunch of samples. Then I was in [Glasgow record shop] Rubadub and played the track to the staff, and next thing I know they’ve got Richard Norris from The Grid on the phone asking to speak to me. He was starting up a label – with Feargal Sharkey of all people – and he wanted to put the song out. I thought it was a wind-up.’
Although Smith had already released on Glasgow’s well-known 23rd Precinct label with II Tone Committee (he notes that everyone thought ‘Always Remain Hardcore’ was a rave anthem from the title, perhaps not surprising when he used to be on the same label as Q-Tex), this 1995 track was his solo calling card. Within two years he was working with Big Beat DJ Jon Carter’s Monkey Mafia project, contributing scratched remixes to their track ‘Work Mi Body’ and the 15 Steps EP. He and Carter are still in touch, and have been talking about working together again on the DJ’s new Roosevelt High project.
Now based in Ayr, he describes the past decade as ‘a series of ups and downs, like anything else in life’, but there’s a real sense of renewed energy about his career right now. The long-planned album is still ‘a work in progress’, but at least his new EP is ready to go. ‘There’ll be a scratch routine to start, then funk, ska, some funky hip hop. I’ll also be previewing my new EP Battlescratch Galactica, it’ll be getting played out live here for the first time.’
It’s a mix that should go down perfectly at Headspin (‘one of my favourite clubs to play, I love it’) but this is also coupled with the sad news that this is one of Headspin’s last regular dates as they close down their monthly operations in August (with DJ Yoda). And Krash Slaughta is just one more reason to get down before it’s gone.
Headspin at the Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Sat 15 May.