For my first post for the Edison blog, I wanted to write about an album that was an important milestone in my history as a rap fan. Back in 2009, Foreign Beggars released their United Colours of Beggattron album, an album which - combined with the remix project that followed - ultimately pushed them fully into the crossover worlds of grime, dubstep, DnB and beyond. It also secured their place as one of my all time favourite groups.
Back then the UK scenes were pretty segregated and crossovers were quite rare, with a few exceptions. Foreign Beggars had always been known for breaching borders and had an obvious love for the electronic sounds, as much as keys and drum loops. Their earlier release in 2004, Bukkake Ski Trip, had yielded a dubstep behemoth by Vex'd and a year before the release of Beggattron, they had released the hyper-fun (and apparently controversial) Hit That Gash, which featured a whole slew of remixes, including a filthy dubstep one from Prime Cuts. So yeah, they had definitely been dabbling.
Beggattron always seemed to me to be the point where the balance tipped though, maybe because it was also their first collaboration with Noisia. The Dutch electronic troublemakers became regular sparring partners with the Beggars in the following years, spawning the fantastic I Am Legion supergroup side-project, but it was on Beggattron that they laid the foundation, most notably with the raging DnB-laced anthem, Contact. Not only was it one of the biggest singles to be released from the album, it was also accompanied by one of my favourite videos of all time (see below).
When I was researching this piece, I spoke to Orifice Vulgatron about a few things, including the link up with Noisia. He told me that they were originally going to feature on the title track from Noisia's Split the Atom album, but that didn't work out for various reasons and so they ended up recording a few tracks for a future collaboration - Contact, Shake It and No Holds Barred, which also featured Kanye's grime favourite, Devlin. Originally they were going to be the foundations for I Am Legion, but they ended up on Beggattron, which was a genius move.
On a personal note, as I said at the start, this album played an important part in my relationship with rap. Coming from Bristol I had always had a love for electronic music, especially DnB, but I was also a pretty rigid purist when it came to hip hop. Beggattron genuinely made me realise that crossovers and fusions between genres, weren't limited to Wu-Tang and Texas, and could embrace all the qualities of each style and sound.
Anyway so far I've only really focused on the crossover angle, but this is an ode to the album as a whole and adjacent to those more grimy, electronic numbers, were some stone cold classic hip hop cuts too. Higher, Keep it Coming, Big N'Black and Prove It, all hit the spot for me, especially as those last two featured two of Detroit's finest - Phat Kat and Guilty Simpson.