Boogie Down pres. Mark Rae @ Candy's Apartment, Sydney (22/10/04)

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For the second week in a row this writer descended down the steps of Candy’s Apartment to listen to beats of the hip hop variety provided by the Boogie Down crew. Last week there was a seething mass inside for Kool Herc of New York city USA, this week it was a similar size crowd in house for a reserved lad who hails from the other side of the Atlantic from Kool Herc’s stomping ground. That man was Mark Rae of Grand Central records, Manchester UK.

Mark is a shining example of what passion and perseverance can create. His passage began in a record store called Fat City in Manchester and has blossomed to a grounded performing and supporting career in the music business. His foray into production began with his mate Steve Christian and he now continues on the solo tip with contributors such as Veba, Pete Simpson and Spikey Tee. He has brought thoughtful, soulful and invoking music to the people of the world from a place that is considered to be as far away as possible from hip hop heartland.

The warm-up DJ was hiding behind his cap as I found a place on the floor to warm myself up for Mark Rae. I hadn’t seen this mystery DJ previously so after reading the lineup, by a process of elimination; it must have been Regal or Blaze who gave us some tasty beats to swing to. The digital screen behind him suggested that this wasn’t about him tonight, there was a certain lanky lad with spectacles and fair skin that was about to take that space in front of the subjective visuals.

At 1:30-ish Mark Rae and Pete Simpson started to loom around the turntables and after receiving much appreciation Mark began his set with a storming dub-electro track that instantly set the tone. It was as if the sound system had developed a personality and was praising the producer of that track and the many that followed for caressing its cones with these specific vibrations. After the first 20 minutes of Mr. Rae I was ready to go and sabotage his record bag. I was devilishly envious of the tracks he was selecting, remixes and rarities of such high quality you couldn’t help but be envious. His technique was top flight also with some superb scratching to complement.

He built and then added more stories of pure soulful funkin’ hip hop in what was shaping to be a hip hop masterpiece DJ set. Notable tracks in this construction were a pounding four to the floor re-mix of Aretha Franklin’s soul standard ‘Rock Steady’ and the repetitive but lively lick of ‘Happy’ by Max Sedgley which was a crowd favourite as Pete Simpson introduced it’s inclusion with soulful vocal additions.

Pete Simpson said it so aptly earlier on as he coaxed us Sydney-siders into the palm of his and Mr. Rae’s hands. “Come on Sydney, this is Mark Rae. This guy ain’t in town every weekend”. As they approached the penthouse of their musical masterpiece construction Mark Rae got on the mike and thanked everyone for their support saying it was now time to hear some tracks off his new album – ‘Into the Depths’.

If you haven’t heard his new album yet I suggest you beg, borrow or steal. It’s one of those albums that is an absolute feel good classic, a collection of superb beats, grooves, melodies and lyrics that will remain a classic for life.

To hear the tracks played on Candy’s system with Pete Simpson singing ‘Medicine’ live was utterly phenomenal. I experienced one of those moments whereby a voice in my mind spoke to me and said – ‘this is mate, it doesn’t get any better than this. No point attempting to top this moment’. Mark looked extremely chuffed to have such an indebted crowd enjoying his beats, and why wouldn’t he? ‘Mind, Body and Soul’, ‘Clip My Wings’ and ‘Reach Out To Me’ were some others from ‘Into the Depths’ that were given a spin.

Mark then continued with his musical masterpiece construction. Completion for this writer was reached when he dropped a Prince track by the name of ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’. At this point the masterpiece was on glowing display and Mark and Pete were inviting us all over to be part of the maddest house warming that has ever been.

Ever the performance perfectionists Rae and Simpson weren’t complete yet, Simpson singing Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstitious’ lyrics over a mystery track was an additional highlight as was the appearance of Spikey Tee, who is also on tour in Australia at the moment, dropping in with the lads to vocalize some ragga rhythms over soulful dubby beats.

But before you could say ‘thanks for coming’ it was over. When it’s a night to remember such as this one, you never want it to end. A thousand thanks to the people of Candy’s, Boogie Down, the happy punters and of course Mark Rae and Pete Simpson for an enthralling evening.

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