Formed in Edgware, north London, England, in the mid-80s, rap collective the Brotherhood took a long time to coalesce into the streamlined trio who released 1996’s groundbreaking Elementalz collection.

Shyloc, Spice and DJ Mr Dexter were the survivors from the original eight-piece who had tasted underground success with three singles and an EP, including the popular ‘I Might Smoke A Spliff But I Don’t Sniff’. In 1994 the group were signed to Virgin Records via their producer Trevor Jackson’s (the Underdog) subsidiary imprint, Bite It! Records. Bite It! had earned strong plaudits for its packaging and style, a quality that was continued on Elementalz with the aid of avant garde photographer David McKean. Jackson remained in charge of production (he has previously worked with U2, Shara Nelson and Massive Attack), though the album’s release was delayed for six months following the death of Jackson and the Brotherhood’s manager, Marts Andrups. Two singles were drawn from Elementalz, ‘Alphabetic Response’ and ‘One Shot’, while the album itself included contributions from Brian Auger and samples from UK acts such as King Crimson and Soft Machine. Even before its release, Elementalz was widely championed in both the mainstream and hip-hop media as representing UK rap’s coming of age, a claim that songs such as ‘Going Underground’ (not the Jam song) and the agenda-setting ‘British Accent Pride’ fully justified.

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