17 years ago I was "encourage to buy" the hip hop album of Phrase Mob from a friend of my drug dealer....

Now  17 years later, they're still together, just strong as ever and currently working on a whole new set of groundbreaking beats  (and that drug dealer still hasn't been caught, mind blowing!)

I recently sat down and spoke with the Andy Hamilton, DJ from Phrase Mob,  to talk about the group and what we can expect from one of the best UK underground Hip Hop groups of the past 20 years



Why the name? Why call yourselves Phrase MoB?

I joined Phraseologists when it just Bugsy and Pat. After a few years we added more members, live musicians, more producers and rappers. Think Concept (Bugsy) came up with name after commenting there was a mob of us.

Who is the current core of the group?

Myself, Concept and Uncle Ben

 Is the the most "solid" line up so far?71268527 768998173538717 5742050865896751104 n

No, more like the grizzled veterans of long campaign. The ‘core’ in my opinion was a 6 man operation of 2 MC’s Concept & Retorik, 2 DJ’s Myself and Uncle Ben and 2 producers Matt Davey and AtomRagtop.

 It reminds me of a kind of concept, do yo think that's what Phrasemob is? I loose knit collective, kind of like a jam band

Almost mate yeah. That 6 man team I mentioned was when we have been most “serious” if you like. We worked our hardest and performed our best gigs, including opening for some of our hip hop heroes like Jehst, Jeru The Damager and the mighty Souls of Mischief. Think this period was between 09-2014? It was so long ago! Other than that I’d say that’s quite a fair description. We come from a very quiet town where there isn’t a lot of local hip hop so for us it was always about finding like minded people and just playing and performing the music we loved.

 How come the group has been so quiet recently?70641549 2521898858090706 5293062771548618752 n

This one is tricky to pin point man. But basically it was a combination of several things. 1. Some members became very busy, having children, moving further away, very demanding jobs. And it all became very hard to maintain. 2.To try and re-vamp we constructed a live band and made some incredible music but again some members could not dedicate the time required. 3. Pure and simply I think the core of us just got really fed up and perhaps lost faith in it? We got into it for fun, we had no intention of ‘making it big’ it would be nice sure, but that's not why we do it. Towards the end before we went dormant it was becoming more effort than fun and I still remember the night Concept and myself just sat in the car after a very unsatisfying practice and we just agreed ‘fuck it’

 So why do you think you have chosen to re-start now as it were?

Simply cos we miss it man. We miss being creative, rocking a show to people that actually love boom-bap hip hop. I myself haven’t touched turntables for nearly 4 years till recently. Now I can’t stop! We feel We owe something to our supporters aswell. They’ve stuck by us since day one and we def owe them some new shit or at least a show!

I love the "Trust Boris" tune, sounds just as fresh anything from "Painful to watch"

Do you think the group could become Topical?

Definitely man, Listen to any verse by Bugs or Dan and it’s mainly all topical even if it’s a laid back tune or just showing off wordplay, there is always a subject that the MC’s tackle. Boris came about naturally. We had that Trust In Me beat for years and I mean years, when that Tory fucktard emerged as our PM, Concept went straight to work.

Your debut album was released in 2009, it's been 10 years so looking back on "Painful To Watch" how do you think it has stood up? 12cb7297ac687115f36ee91142a79d757449e1c8

Any thing you wished you have done differently?

We are still immensely proud of PTW dude. But there are def things we’d change.

I know Bugsy hates a couple of tracks and can’t listen to them, doesn’t like his verse. I think for me it’s my scratching. In short, TIME we should have spent more time on the album. But of course Time is money and I’m pretty sure we were maxed out by the time finished it.

On the whole though I think the majority of PTW still stands and has aged beautifully. We still get praise over some of our “classics” Weed, Cotched Squatters and Prayer For Unity are amongst the favourites.

 It's a really cool album, not the usual Brits trying to be American fluff

What do you think about Grime and Trap music?

 Thanks dude. No we have never been about pretending to be something we’re not.

To be honest I am not a fan of either.

I respect Grime as a music and art form but I have never been impressed by double time rap. It’s amazing but it just doesn’t do anything for me. I want to hear the bars.

 Trap I just flat out can’t stand.

I heard a term for it the other day that stuck “drumless rap”
Not disrespecting artists who do it. I have a lot of producer mates who make all sorts of beats and trap is amongst it. But it’s just not for me.71210205 723656014728925 7651672378866401280 n

 It seems the like an natural evolution of Hip Hop, kind of how NWA spoke about street life in the 80s that trap music especially is doing the same thing today, would you agree with that assessment?

That’s a great question man..

My honest answer is I have not heard enough trap to comment. What I have heard was someone talking about a lambo repeatedly or it’s just so auto tuned my ears won’t allow it to go in. What I could say is Hip Hop is one of the most influential cultures ever and over the years it has forged brand new sounds and sub genres and a good MC will always reflect and represent his/her environment. NWA’s message was clear as day from their first bar. Now I’m sure within the millions of trap artist out there some of them have something to say other than drinking lean and getting lit. But I have yet to hear it. I Always welcome my mind being opened though.

Hopefully it’ll all just go away soon

Hahaha that would be satisfying outcome.

 So you opened for Souls of Mischief, sweet gig, how did that come about?

Let me see...71310249 2736021993096747 2170551307461459968 n

We had a really strong base in Kingston. Especially with The guys at Banquet Records (shout out to all the crew there) We’d done some great shows at The Fighting Cocks, an awesome bar and music venue. From that we got contacts at Banquet who would put on shows. We got an email one day asking if we’d open for Jehst (our fucking idol) we of course accepted, killed it and from that gig we got asked by Banquet to open up for Jeru The Damaga and then Souls Of Mischief. Don’t quote me on the order of those gigs but basically it was from doing a great show and being asked to return for similar gigs by the same promoter.

These were always our best gigs as the crowd were there for hip Hop. Real hip hop.

Did you get to meet any of guys before the gigs?

Yeah man and they were all the nicest people. Jehst, Michaal Parkinson and DJ Jazz T all came and chilled with us. Think Dan even picked him up from train station! Jeru and his DJ chatted with us for ages after the show. Souls were a bit more big time but we got to chill and chat a bit with the MC’s. Definitely the highlights of our musical journey.

 How much influence do you think cannabis has had on the hip hop community?

Hmmm prob quite a bit I imagine. Same with Reggae. One of my music teachers made a point that every genre has its vice that is associated with it. Weed is hip hop and reggae, DNB - coke and pills, etc etc. I imagine hip Hoppers who love weed are going to rap about it. And cannabis advocates who are rappers are definitely going to write about it in their rhymes. I’d say they are closely intertwined and are equally powerful at influencing each other.

Put it this way, I think Cypress Hill would be half as entertaining if they didn’t consume and rap about weed so superbly.

 When can we expect to hear any music coming out of the camp?70825817 242205090030649 8958139900608118784 n

I wish I could give concrete information. Honestly, as soon as humanly possible. Concept has been leading the charge over the past year with some gigs with Uncle Ben and he has recorded some new stuff. But, as for an official PM release we just don’t know. We do know that it is coming. It would be rude not to. Our ‘anthology’ ’ if you like is currently on Spotify and that has something from every era of Phrase Mob.


I’ve been trying to find your cd for sale, it’s really hard to locate, where can we find one?

We have more than a few at various houses man so we’d be happy ship a load to you. We had to remove it from as not a single sample has been cleared
Suspect Packages in London May have a few but best way is always come to us.

 Before I let you go, I was going to ask you about that, how do you get permission to use the samples?

Money man, you pay for sample clearance. We have NEVER done this as our samples were pretty intricate, we didn’t have the money and we don’t make enough money for anyone to kick up a fuss.

We hope.

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