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Magazine > Music Reviews > The Shakti
The Shakti
Published by Sthelensnow on 25/2/18 (292 reads)

The Shakti

The Shakti are a Hiphop/rap group from Merseyside/Liverpool. They existed from 2000 – 2008 (Roughly)

Comprising of: Ash The Gent - MC
Philly Whizz – MC
DJ Rasp (DMC/ITF/Champ) – DJ/Turntablist
The Mak of all Trades – Producer, multi-instrumentalist and MC
Sharlene Squire – Singer/Vocalist

MC Philly Whizz and DJ Rasp are both St Helens born and bred.

The group first came into being in 2000. They immediately gained attention and notoriety due to being one of a few group groups from the North West with a distinctly northern sound/style. Combining Humour/skally lyrics with spirituality. They gigged extensively in and around the North West, and had a number of labels and managers interested in them. However they decided to set up their own label and put out their own records. Their first E.P ‘Shaktipact’ received favourable reviews in Undercover mag and Big Smoke. Hiphop Connection placed it at number 7 on the U.K Hiphop chart.

With this release their reputation spread throughout the UK Resulting in regular gigs in London at Jamm Bar with the MuffJam crew and 93 feet east. They also headlined regular nights in Manchester at Dry bar and Night and Day café, as well as hiphop nights in Leeds and Hull. They also headlined festivals in Liverpool including Music week and the brouhaha and Dave The Ruff’s ‘UK Hip Hop’ showcases festival in Cheshire.


Around this time they released their 2nd EP entitled ‘The Single File’ EP this maintained their national distribution with CARGO and received regular radio play and magazine reviews. At this point they were asked to perform a showcase gig at St Helens Citadel which resulted in a TV appearance on Granada’s ‘Made in the Northwest’

They then released their 3rd and final EP ‘Sellin a Weed/Poor Me’. Around this time one reporter in London’s Big Smoke magazine described them as, ‘The best live hiphop act in the country’ in addition to this Undercover Mag reviewed the E.P with a 5/5 point award.

This was the last release they put out as they disbanded shortly after this EP. However an album was recorded and is in the pipeline to be finally mastered and released. Over the years they toured all over England and headlined many events and festivals. The various members remained friends but went their separate ways and have all continue gigging and releasing music.

The Shakti Anthology published 2012

This archive dates from their first studio recording to the last.

The first recordings were done in 2001 in Wayward studios in Wigan the songs recorded are:
1 - Rhyme is Meditation
2 - Deaf Dubbed and Smoking
3 - Connector the Connection

The first track features live drums by Rachel, raps/lyrics by Phil and Ash, cuts by Rasp and Mak playing bass and guitar.

The second track gave birth to their infamous skally lyrics about their favourite pastimes i.e. Fighting, drinking, womanizing and drug taking.

The last track was produced by Chrome resident drum and bass beatmaker Mando

Jelly Jam Studio in Runcorn

4 – Northwest Escapades – This version of the track is different from the one that later appeared on the ‘Shaktipact EP’. This version was released on ‘The Chemical Factory’ compilation album.

2002 – Frog Studio’s, Warrington

5 – Shaktipact
6 – Somebody to blame

These are from the second time The Shakti appeared in a recording studio. They won this studio time after taking first prize in an unsigned band competition at St.Helens Show the same year they headlined The Halton Show.

Maks studio, Toxteth 2005 -2006 ish

7 – Sellin' a Weed

8- Poor Me

9 – Bang on

These are from the final recording sessions the band completed for the final EP. ‘Sellin a weed’ is full of true life comedic tales and ‘bang on’ was an unused posse cut from the same sessions.

Members of Shakti: Ash (English Scitzo), DJ Rasp, Mak Of All Trades, The, Mak, The, Philly Whizz, Sharlene Squire.

The Shakti Interview with Phil Webster aka Philly Whizz

Shakti - Ash
Shakti - Makrad
Shakti - DJ Rasp
Shakti - Philly Whizz

Liverpool is a pretty big city and with its history one would have thought that there would be plenty going on. Maybe there is and the Scousers don't export it, maybe they just keep it on a local vibe. Well, all that is set to change with this new crew - The Shakti, who are dropping their debut 12" and are looking to spread their name further a field.. 

OK, lets get straight into this. Lets talk about the name of the crew first, because it is a bit unusual. I understand that Shakti is an African term and has something to do with spirituality and upliftment? Is this correct?

Shakti is a Hindu word. It is a word to describe creative energy. This is the energy present in all living things. This is the energy exchanged between people. Shakti was also worshipped as a goddess in India, our equivalent of mother nature. A divine creative force. We use this word as a term to describe the energy created in our music.

Shakti On TV (2003)

Liverpool hiphop crew The Shakti performing on "Made in the Northwest" Granada TV show February 2003.

Can we now get a brief break down from each of you describing what your individual roles are and how you work together?

Philly Whizz – white rapper
Ash The Gent vocals – half white half Jamaican rapper
Charlene Squire – mixed race soul singer
The Mak of All Trades – Persian born producer, bass and guitar player
DJ Rasp – turntables/scratching - crazy silly fresh DJ from St Helens. Finished 3rd in the DMC heat in Liverpool.

Basically Maks the producer, the rest write lyrics together, then Rasp adds his cuts.

Right, so how did you first get together as a group? You don’t all look like family so did you meet at school or college or something like that? And what were your intentions when you got together? Did the group come straight away, or did you never really have plans to make records? When would this have been?

Myself Phil and Mak first met 3 years ago with an intention of starting a live funk Hip Hop band. The band went through a few guises before ash who was Mak's friend at the time started rapping. So we brought him in at the time when the first musicians we had were leaving, at this point we met DJ rasp from St. Helens. The band at that point became DJ rasp playing breaks, with me and ash rapping and Mak playing live bass on top. After this Mak then got a princes trust grant to set up a studio which is what we use now to do all our production and recording on. Also at this point we met Charlene who is undoubtly the best female singer in Liverpool. So we now have the five of us working together as the Shakti. Currently recording an album.

Are you affiliated with any other crews and are you working with any young cats you are hoping to bring through? Who should we look out for?

The other crews we work with in Liverpool are mainly the OIC who have been together for 10 years, their the guys we mainly gig with in Liverpool. There is also a number of younger kids starting to come through such as underground intelligence, Feminine force and a few others.

So, you are from Liverpool, not sure on the exact size, but it could be the third biggest city in the UK, and yet there has been relatively little noise coming out of there Hip Hop wise. This is especially surprising because of the large black community which resides there because of the links with slave trading in the past. On the web I have come across Cloakley who represents for Liverpool and seen that the Liverpool University has a lively Hip Hop Society creating a small buzz, but apart from that I would be hard pressed to know what is going on over there. What do you think the reasons for this are?

Liverpool is actually a pretty small city. Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle all dwarf the city centre. Unfortunately in Liverpool due to considerable poverty their just has not been the places to play, no facilities, no labels no managers. In 1995 a band called 1st in command from Toxteth made a brilliant album called pest control. They has already been voted best demo in HHC and toured with credit to the nation. Unfortunately due to politics the album never got released but its is fuckin brilliant full of jazz loops and funny skally scouse lyrics. The only other notable act has been OIC, however these are still to have anything released. The only Hip Hop night for the past 6 years has been no Faking which is a wicked night. But until the student Hip Hop night it has been the only night in the entire city. There are more cats cumin through and the scene is starting to grow but ultimately Liverpool has been a very small very poor city for the last twenty years and is only starting to turn a corner now because of the capital of culture bid.

Can you break down some of the history of Hip Hop in Liverpool back in the day? What I mean is who were the local heads who were performing, putting on shows and setting up pirate radio stations? Who influenced you and made you think, yeah we can do this? Things like who was the first Scouser to put out a Hip Hop record?

1st in Command are legends here in Liverpool. Fractions of them became lyrical compact who released a tune that I heard Westwood play and he had em on his show once. They don’t play has a Hip Hop band no more but still put on shows and run static records which is an independent record store.. Other acts include solo artists c zero and ghost 2000 who are old time Toxy MCs who still gig and are tight acts to see. OIC are the only band from then that are still going. As seasons performers when I first seen them guys freestyle I was inspired to get to the same level of attainment. Their front man is TL a wicked big bald scouse rapper whose done lotsa recording and shows he goes down to the kung fu night in London he also brought Kela up to Liverpool last month. Paddy and his bro DJ Kwinzola, are the guys responsible for no Fakin at the Zanzibar which is by far the premier Hip Hop night in Liverpool for the past 6 years. Everyone's played their form taskforce to Edan to swollen members to ugly Duckling.

Poor Me published on 14 September 2008

Philly Whizz, Ashlar, The Mak of All Trades & DJ Rasp perform 'Poor Me @ The Citadel, St Helens 2004.

Since those early days, how has the scene developed over the years? Who are the acts that have come and gone and apart from yourselves, who is prevailing and building a bit of a following?

We are the first Liverpool Hip Hop band to release a vinyl pressing in the last 6 years so at the moment we are the only ones trying to get recognised outside of the city. TL from OIC is still going strong along with his crew theirs a female rapper called Nikki. Quite a few young rappers are coming out bout not quite ready to get out their yet but finding their voice. Feminine force are an all girl group doing quite well they ve been on telly recently and have been supporting space. Theirs quite a few compilation albums been put together with all the Liverpool acts. But they haven’t really been the best way of promoting the acts. But I must mention again first in command they really were a class act, if their up for it, ill try and send you a copy of their album.

Shaktipact published 2014

DJ Rasp, Sharlene Squire, Ashleigh Nugent, Philly Whizz and The Mak Of All Trades

What do you think are the main differences between what goes on in Liverpool and London? Is it just a matter of scale and what are the bad points and what are the good things about being away from the Big Smoke?

Definitely size and infrastructure. Until we have an act that blows up no label or manager is gonna give a fuck bout Liverpool Hip Hop. The only thing that comes outta Liverpool is a guitar band every 2/3 years. That’s all labels look at Liverpool for. There are sum great funk soul bands in Liverpool as well as the Hip Hop. But always only typical guitar bands are the ones to get any kinda support. In London you ve had a few acts out a few labels so old heads. Here theirs nothing like that , that’s why we are doing it all ourselves at that moment cos there is no other way. Also theirs the radio thing and magazines, how many do you think there are in Liverpool? As far as good point they are the fact that its small means we all work together and support each other, and it’s a really honest open vibe, their no backbiting and no harsh competition, basically we are all in the same boat struggling for recognition, so theirs no egos in Liverpool we are all sticking together.

You have done a few shows now. Can you tell us about them and how it went? What do you get from being on stage in front of an audience? Is it a rush?

We played loadsa shows in the north west, also at a couple of uni's around the country. I luv playing live, we are a very energetic band on stage, usually bouts of beatbox freestylin and crowd banter. Sometimes we get musicians to play with us sometimes itv ll be just decks and mics I just luv performing and interacting with the crowd seeing their response to your music is the fundamental thing. That’s what lets you know that your work is being recognised and its never time wasted.

The Shakti EP published 2014

DJ Rasp, Sharlene Squire, Ashleigh Nugent, Philly Whizz and The Mak Of All Trades

You now have your self titled debut release out right about now. What was it like putting out your first record? You largely did it yourselves didn’t you, but you have had a bit of help from Honey Records. How does that relationship work?

Basically we got money to do it through LIPA (Liverpool institute of performing arts), we were doing a course set up by the EU to help unemployed musicians we recorded ourselves took the money and put in into pressing vinyl. Everyone else spent their s on recording and doing CDs. We knew we needed vinyl. Honey are a local label who basically said if we put their name on it then they d help promote and distribute it. This turned out to be bollocks and they ain't done shit, so it doesn't really mean anything having their logo on it. Cos apart from the EU funding we ve done it all ourselves.

Somebody To Blame published on 18 April 2012

The Elemental Label. Written and Performed by The Shakti. Produced by The Mak of All Trades. Recorded for the 'The Shakti' album out on Elemental Music. Copyright 2012.

Can you tell the readers a bit about each of the tracks on your record. Describe the sound, mood and feel, as well as breaking down what the lyrics are trying to say. What was in your minds when you wrote and recorded the tracks?

SHAKTIPACT – is a introduction to Shakti, just trying to give everyone a feel of who we are and what we do. Just kind saying look where here check us out we do have something to say. Musically the sample sound very middle eastern/Chinese to a hippo track. Mak produced it and does the last rap on it. The chorus I written is just kinda saying we came together for a cause and made a pact together to see it through to the end.

NORTHWEST ESCAPADES – this is the other side of the Shakti coin. We are now well read spiritual fairy, maturing conscious people. However the skally element is never far away. This song is a collection of true life stories of drinking, fighting , shagging whilst rampaging the north on a night out. We ve always written funny stories about the north and kinda parody a lot of what goes on here. Skally culture, drugs, petty crime, its rife in our city and our lives and we do find a lot of what happens v amusing, so to tell it in a funny way is important cos everyone knows that northerners are brilliant at taking the piss outta themselves we are not bling bling heads who take themselves too seriously.

SOMEBODY TO BLAME – this is by far the most compelling of the tunes on the pressing. This is basically about how people always find it hard to take total responsibility for themselves. Whether good or bad you are creating your life and your experience of life. Its saying people want to blame their parents or their friend or the politicians, but at the end of the day the buck stops we you as an individual to make things better. Ash's lyrics relate mainly to his experience with his parents when growing up, mine are more universal on a bout that if we don’t come together and take responsibility for the damage we ve caused to ourselves and the planet we could stand to lose everything. The music is very haunting to this tune I particularly like the piano sample. We are playing to make a video for this song very soon.

Describe for us your production and recording set up. What equipment do you have? And how do you use it? Would it be a matter of getting samples and sequences together on your home equipment and making demos, which you would then take to a professional studio to record and mix down on a multi track?

We record/produce on pro tools, using a combination of samples and live instruments. We mixed the EP ourselves then set it away to be mastered.
 

How are the sales of the EP going and what was the response like?

Sales have gone well we ve only a few left. Response has been great, Disorda and Reality and the Ruf have all big it up and been playing it. Local radio here are also playing it regularly. Undercover and HHC are due to review it, theirs an article about us in Undercover. Distribution has been tricky but a few are now interested.

What have you done so far to attain this success, and what more can you do in the future to grow your fan base?
We have just been working hard doing gigs and writing, gigging in the early days is important this is what gives a band strength, helps you find your niche. At the moment we cosentrate on recording. As far as fan base best way I say is to database, everyone at gigs everyone who buys the record. Database then you can contact your crowd direct. We ve also got our website done and ready to go, at the moment tho we are being fucked about by the people we got the space off. To be sorted soon hopefully.

What sort of a response do you get from the rest of the country, and are there regional differences you can discern?
When I've played with acts from other parts of the country they've absolutely loved our humour and our accents and I feel the same about them. We ain't played in London yet so we ll wait and see bout them. I think cockneys more than anyone are a bit more use to hearing their accents. But I luv hearing all the different British accents I think rapping in your own voice is of most importance and is what makes the music fresh to listen to.

Lets broaden this out. At the moment, Muslims in Palestine (and throughout most of the world) are getting a proper hammering from the Israelis and the US with our help. What are the reasons for this and how does it make you feel? What can realistically be done to help people live together?


The reason for that mate are that the Jews where persecuted for centuries first by Egypt in the time of the pharaoh and then Hitler. That is why the west originally supported them. But now Sharon seems to me to be going down the same path by committing genocide himself on the Palestinians. The true answer can only be that this shit happens because it has always happened. England was invaded by Viking and Romans, we colonised India, Falklands .etc. we can only live together when people want to live together, at the moment its fair to say many people do not want peace and they are the ones holding us all back. But thing do improve and change will come. When people stop focusing on personal gain and instead focus on what is best for everyone. We cannot call ourselves civilised when one half is rich at the expense of the half whom are still starving to death. Same as with the class system in this country.

I Fantasize published on 18 April 2012

The Elemental Label. Written and Performed by The Shakti. Produced by The Mak of All Trades. Recorded for the 'The Shakti' album out on Elemental Music. Copyright 2012.

North Korea has re-started its Nuclear programme and has expelled the international observers who were stationed there. Yet the US does not plan to take any action over there, but is going to attack Iraq for having weapons of Mass destruction, which by the way, the UN inspectors can find no trace of at all. I perceive certain double standards here. Seems the US is going round the world being an aggressor, and trying to finish off problems which the US its self sowed the seeds of by financing the wrong people in the past. What is your take on all of this?

Obvious hypocrisy. You keep hearing about how Saddam has killed his own people, but I don’t think any one thinks for one minute that bush is arsed about that. The reasons probably has more to do with money and oil than anything. Also my personal take is that 10yrs ago the yanks banged on about the threat of communism now its terrorism, to me it s a guise to convince everyone we need protecting by bush and his democratic empire. As you have said we hear constantly about weapons of mass destruction, yet still no evidence whatsoever that they exist? Obviously they know what weapons he has they sold them to him when they integrated the war between Iraq and Iran.

Does this make you at all political? I ask everyone about politics, because I think it is important that we have knowledge of what is going on, but many Hip Hop heads decline to answer. I guess they don't want to upset anyone. Do you have anything to say on that? Any issues you think people need to open their eyes too?

Its important to be aware of what goes on. Self awareness is of far greater importance though. At he end of the day sort you re own problems out before you try and sort the worlds out. It always comes down to the individual, to exercise their own free will and to take an interest in what they choose and to not attack other peoples beliefs.

The Shakti V Galactic Funk Militia 'SugarHunt' (Plantation REMIX) published 2017

Lyrics written and performed by: Ash Nugent and Philly Whizz.
Cuts and scratches: D.J Rasp
Music written and performed by: Galactic Funk Militia

Remix Produced and mixed by: Philly Whizz

Toxteth, Liverpool 8, has a history of being like a litmus paper and in the past unrest there has been symbolic of greater problems in society. How are things in that area now? Are there grievances simmering under the surface, or has all that changed now? The spotlight has been focused on Birmingham recently after the hairdressers shoot out.

Fuk all has changed they talk bout the shootings in Birmingham cos two girls where killed. 4 people have died in shootings since the new year in Liverpool, more wounded. Not mentioned nationally cos two dealers shoot each other in the pub in Liverpool is apparently acceptable and no ones arsed if ganasta and pushers kill one another. And as for blaming black people and gangsta rap they where all white.. Toxteth's famous cos of the huge black community but the white ghettos of Wavertree, Bootle, Huyton are also very infamous Since the riot in Liverpool over 10 years ago very little has changed in Toxy and the dingle there are still burnt out buildings from then. A lot of homes have been boarded up so long their falling to pieces. A lot of rebuilding has started but much more needs to be done. Drugs and guns are easy as fuchk to get. Most shooting are linked and are not random, they are people in poverty fighting for territory to sell drugs. Add to that loads of smack heads squatting round the city and skally student mugging, its not pretty, but I luv the place it has a electric vibe to it.

What's The Prognosis? published on 18 April 2012

The Elemental Label. Written and Performed by The Shakti. Produced by The Mak of All Trades. Recorded for the 'The Shakti' album out on Elemental Music. Copyright 2012.

If you could change something about society, what would it be and why?

Good question. I change everyone's perception of how they measure success. Healthy mind healthy body not bling bling rings and cars. By measuring success as money and prestige this is why gangsta s have become role models in communities instead of the honest hard working man, no one wants an average life. So all the kids are on drugs and selling drugs, seeing rich people and aspiring to be like them. Instead of aspiring to be good honest people who work hard for a living. People have more now than they have ever had but now they want more, this greed will destroy society. We cannot all be millionaire supastars but we can all be equal if we accept our roles in society and don t let greed be our inspiration and start enjoying the simple things again.

Do you think that this is a good time to be breaking out as an MC in the UK?

As good a time as any, I think the scene starting to open up people are starting to warm to the idea, it could blow up at any point.

UK Hip Hop seems to be getting a fair bit of positive press at the moment, do you think the interest will be sustained?

I hope so and I think it will , cos more people are doing it themselves. It only fuked up first time round cos of the record companies. Now with more labels being set up independently it takes artists longer to get out but the foundations this time are being laid properly by labels like low life, ruff beats etc we need more business minded Hip Hop heads putting the infrastructure down for artists we obviously cant rely on these industry A and R knob heads who just wanna cash in. We all gotta be here for the long haul not for short term monetary gain.

Outside your crew who are the UK artists you listen to and admire? What is it about them you like?

Task force – I luv Chester he s me fav MC , he seems on a very psychic level , he seems to have the rite balance of sheer brilliance and humility. Aspect – really luv Parlour Talk album padlocked tonic a British classic and undivided attention. Aspects though have proper put Bristol on the map and they are funny , clever and tight live. Jehst – tight tight mc, Manuva and Braintax. Also shouts to London posse, twang and ruthless rap assassins, lets not forget Dave the Ruf and Krispy, Microdisiacs. I also luv the planets proper beautiful spiritual Hip Hop and Lewis parker.

Who or what are you other influences? What do you do when you are not doing Hip Hop stuff?

I luv all kindsa music, funk , jazz reggae everything from prince to bowie to the Beatles to miles Davis, to the specials. Apart from Hip Hop I don’t do much apart form martial arts and other spiritual practices, as well as sign on regularly, exercise, smoke weed and get drunk. I pretty much doing something related to Hip Hop all the t time either rapping producing recording DJing or writing .

Where can people hear your stuff?

Disorda website, realbeats.com, peoplesound.com, our website when its on.

Where can people pick up your stuff?

Suspect packages, the Ruf mail order, at the moment its available in records shops in Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, it will be in London shop v soon.

OK. To wind this up, what is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?

Recording a Shakti album, starting to record my solo EP – Philli whiz The Philiologist, couple of gigs in St. Helens and Liverpool in Feb. may be starting my own Hip Hop night in the city also and running are own label and making contact with peeps like yourself.

What are your longer term plans and objectives?

To secure sum premises as soon as to put our equipment in and run our label from and also to run kiddi workshops which we ve all bin doing a bit of. To get the Shakti album made and released nationally and in Europe. Also to get my solo stuff ready for release.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

I send you sum photos v soon, check us in undercover, I let you know when the websites ready.

Finally is there anyone else you would like to mention?

All the Hip Hop heads

Thank you for your time.

Thank you very much

End of interview

The group released 3 EPs to much acclaim, they toured nationwide and appeared in National press articles and reviews in Hip Hop Connection, Big Smoke and Undercover Magazine. They also appeared LIVE on Granada Television.

Selected festivals and gigs:

Blackscreen Film and Video Festival 2004, The Bumper, Liverpool, 2004 with DJ Rasp, Shakti and Systems De Analyst
Lemon Lounge, Liverpool, 7 October 2005 with DJ Rasp and others
Block Party Sessions @ The Picket, Liverpool, 9 December 2006
Elemental Music label launch, The Kazimier, Liverpool, 20 April 2012
Constellations, Liverpool, 18 April 2016, part of L100 Cypher Crew with Barry Kid, Beyond Average and Tony Broke and others
Matt and Phreds, Manchester, 27 August 2017 with Intergalactic Funk

Licences:

Standard YouTube Licence
SoundCloud Terms of Use
BandCamp Terms of Use

Except where otherwise noted, original recordings, videos, artworks etc. are copyright of their respective songwriters/performers/publishers/artists or whatever is applicable to that particular work with All rights reserved.

Related

Philly Whizz
The Amnesiacs

References/Links
All links accessed and working on 25 February 2018.

British HipHop
Soundcloud
Philly Whizz YouTube Channel
Bandcamp
Bandmine
Getintothis - 18 April 2016
Matt and Phreds

This article was created, compiled and produced by Barry Grady. 25 February 2018.

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