BackBone Recordings announces its first album release: 3PM’s ‘The First Stroke… (1989-1995)’. This project brings to vinyl for the first time nine lost gems from the 3PM archive – an act of DAT-tape archaeology many British rap fans thought they’d never see. Through their tantalisingly sporadic output in UK hip-hop’s first golden era, 3PM earned a reputation as the original daddies of Bristolian rap. Formed around Bristol bass-dons Smith & Mighty’s legendary Three Stripe studio in 1988, the ‘three-man posse move’, as they called themselves, was the first rap act from the city to wear its local identity on its sleeve.
Underground favourites like ‘St. P’ (1990) and ‘Better Late Than Never’ (1994), collided vivid local street knowledge, rugged melodicism and dexterous flows. In doing so, the charismatic MC tag team of Krissy Kriss and Kelz fused their Bristol upbringings, Jamaican roots and total immersion in hip-hop at its most vital into a distinctive style. That style has subsequently become the foundation for future generations of Bristol MCs, while the group’s much-swapped live recordings have become currency among the UK rap cognoscenti.
Taking note of the growth of 3PM’s cult in recent years, BackBone has returned to the source. Unearthing hours of previously unheard demos, the label’s carefully compiled and restored the first ever album of 3PM material. Running the gamut of fierce political commentary (‘Posse Move Blues’), poetic meditations on brotherhood (‘Brother’), the incursion of crack into Bristol in the late 80s (‘Brainwashed’) and the pursuance of a satisfying life (‘My Life’), ‘The First Stroke’ is 3PM in all their diverse topical glory. It is also a masterclass in nimble-footed MCing, and in hip-hop beats at their most compelling.