ripped from the now defunct print mag 'represent'
#7 April / May '95

The mounted Irish flag on the back of the door matches the Eric B and Rakim 'Paid In Full' green LP cover packing out of the extensive record collection, could this signify some pertinent political irony? May be. The room in North London is also crammed with various trophies, one from the West Belfast community festival where the Marxmen have preformed in the last 2 years. O'shane, a mean mother on the guitar and Hollis (yes it's his real name) take time out to talk, other band members Phraser and DJ Curt are....else-where.

This is how it goes, record labels sends promo, the idea is you listen to the promo although if it's UK rap, albeit a little begrudgingly.

Hollis responds: "When I was younger I thought hiphop was just got out of breaks and beats, put it on your turntable and you mix it, made a loop out of it put a bass on and maybe you put another loop with it and maybe one little noise. Working with SD50's who've done stuff with Brand Nubian and Premier; there's a difference between imagining what it is the track and actually the techniques that they use. There will be so much drums in a hiphop track - what you hear on the speakers is nothing to what is there making that sound, you think it is one kick. But when you hear it it sound cohesive, so your thinking one loop."

"It's a serious craft there" O'shane offers, "The Americans write a whole new track just in the bottom frequencies it's not just about putting in one or two 808's."

In fact listening to the Cynic Ep promo wasn't the experience I had imagined. But an exhilarating eclectic mix of influences Marxman have embraced, touring with the likes of U2 and Depeche Mode. Experiences that remind any twentysomething of a period in their teens where they were less musically discriminate. Bauhaus, New Order, Siouxie and the Banshees, Teardrops Explodes were right at home next to Kashif, Glen Jones, Patrice Rushen and of course the ubiquitous Electro.

Hollis agrees, "I'm 25, so I can remember the whole scene and so for me the records that used the Big Beat which is a rock record to start off with and all those records before that, you know Hip Hop was always eclectic in the way it made it's music, and the best stuff that you used to know. And you used to go to hiphop jams and they'd play 'Shout' by Tears for Fears and mix that record up. And now you couldn't imagine them mixing up a pop record at a jam even if it had a good beat because the mind and mentality is now you've got hiphop in it's finished form - so you just copy it. Whereas before I think it was about getting to that point. Certain people if they knew where the sample was from would be like why are they listening to that for?"

It could be the period Hollis spent in Bristol that accounts for just a touch of Massive Attackish fell to The Cynic EP and don't look for any lyrics on Ager To Returner because they aren't any. Bar the formidable 'New York, Rock Mosh' mix of 'Whassinit for the Cynic' track for the most part Cynic is pretty trippy. On the strength of their first LP Marxmen have riden the MTV and New Music Seminar tail and a BBC ban of single 'Sad Affair' about Ireland must have helped some.

All in all Marxmen self confessed "Commies of Rap" have done quite nicely thankyou, what's with the cynicism?"

"A lot of people are cynics from the stand point of doing nothing," posits Hollis, "like cynics of us say what do we do about our Marxism, whereas I could say to you I was at the demonstration, but were you there? And they want to attack you like they've got something to say about politics. Marxism best encompasses the way we look at the world," Hollis states "When people say fuck everyone, the government or whoever that's a political statement, what you are really saying is don't do nothing about nothing. To me somebody who says that is oppositional to make any political change."

Could be that Marxmen are in the wrong game, since rap's not exactly renowned for its political correctness. O'shane encounters "No, music is politically correct." "Being P.C. is just quibbling about words" says Hollis "and making capitalism seem better. Indians in America or Red Indians or Native Americans, or calling Black people African Americans - as if by just having the right words you're addressing the problems. For me the problems are making a change to the socio economic structure. We're not P.C. we want a revolution to change the society that we live in."

In my book dem's fighting words - that used to purvey all hiphop from '87, the inimitable period of enlightenment when Public Enemy catalysts invoked political conciousness. Briefly we flirted with Islam and tip toed around political action. Marxmen instead elected to act upon their beliefs: they refuse to allow their material to be used for advertising and for their records to be sold in South Africa until changes were implemented.

Hollis explains, "I formed my political views around '83, living in Ireland I was very nationalistic, very pro IRA and that was it, but coming to England mixing with people, starting to read Trotsky Communist Manifesto, CLR James Black Jacobins."

"I agreed with everything PE said," he asserts, "apart from reducing it down to Black Nationalism but it's undesirable and all that devil shit I never felt I was a devil, I just saw it as the point that Malcolme X becomes dangerous was when he saw you could build alliances on economics and social issues in America."

"Nationalism at the end of the day" Hollis declares "you're talking about replacing one kind of opressor with another. In Ireland, 800 years against British colonialism got rid of Britian and they just took over the power because they've got an Irish name and accent, now they're the oppressors. It's important to realise that oppression is oppression and that's where I differ from PC."

unknown writer - there were some cool typos - the last two words in the mag were "from PC", i reckon he said "from PE", -anyhows just decide yourself!

to make contact email info@irishhiphop.com