brotherhood crew (dance)
The Brotherhood were a pioneering UK hip-hop group with a solid following across the UK from the early 1990s
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The band started in 1984 as a loose collective of around eight members called the Brotherhood VIP. VIP stood for "Vagabonds in Power", taken from a Fela Kuti record of the same name. They were a collective of rappers, dancers, graffiti artists, and DJ's who were black, white, Muslim and Jewish. The group included Aston Harvey, later known as DJ Hasty of the Freestylers, a Muslim Tanzanian MC named Sir Yes and a producer named Secretgrooves. In later interviews, founding member Lorenzo (Laurence Knopf, later called Mr Shylok) told the press the name had referred to the collective's ideal of "brotherhood between races". The Brotherhood VIP were a regular feature at North London underground hip hop jams and blues parties in the original 80s underground scene. Their mix tapes laced with rap circulated until 1989, when the original line up amicably parted ways. 1990 saw The Brotherhood, now including DJ/Producer Son of Funk (Jason Roth, later known as DJ Diablo, part of Roots Manuva's "Banana Clan" and featured in DJ MK's The Funhouse), continue to record demo tracks, assisted by production from Secretgrooves who had formed a new group called VIP with Sir Yes. In turn Lorenzo (Mr Shylok) helped out on production of VIP's demo tracks.Original DJ and rapper members Lorenzo and DJ Pump Action (later known as DJ Crystl), plus Son of Funk (DJ Diablo) who had joined in 1990, and a later addition, The Pioneer, formed the next incarnation as The Brotherhood. Lorenzo had a friendship with a budding music producer Trevor "The Underdog" Jackson and together they produced the first Brotherhood 12" EP "Descendants of the Holocaust" in 1991. The tracks on the EP were originally produced by Lorenzo with Son of Funk. This release was the first release on the Bite It! Label, which grew to include label mates of the Brotherhood – "The Scientists of Sound" and "Little Pauly Ryan". On this track, the band drew on their shared Jewish legacy for the first and last time8 and the track reached number 8 in the UK's Echoes Hip Hop Chart.The media response was to present the band solely as a "Jewish Rap Band", with tag lines such as "the Jewish Public Enemy". A full-page piece in The Independent newspaperwas the starting point for intense international media interest focused on the racial angle rather than the music. Framed as 'Jewish political protest rap' the Brotherhood were pursued by The New York Times, Def II's 'Reportage', NBC News, and other major media outlets. Within months, it was also widely reported that major American and UK labels rapidly despatched A&R men to live shows or directly to Bite It! looking to sign the band. The furore reached the stage where statements were issued to the press: "The fact that The Brotherhood are white and happen to be Jewish is an irrelevant point, we hope people listen to the music and think this is a good track”
While revenues from the US hip-hop scene dwarfed its UK underground cousin, the Brotherhood refused media appearances and deals which they felt were irrelevant to the music. Instead they remained at Bite It! Lorenzo told the press: "The Brotherhood are about a lot of things... what we really want to do is make very good, very credible rap. We wanna make tracks that even when you're totally knackered at a club, you get up and dance the whole track away, a track that makes you get up when you feel like sleeping. That's the bottom line.” There were concerns that involvement with larger players would detract from the music, plus reinforce the anti-Semitic stereotype that “Jews run the media”. Lorenzo would later cite the frustration and pressure created by the media’s one-dimensional "Jewish rap band" response as a key factor in the band’s split soon afterwards. “They didn’t want to know anything else. That's all they were really gonna write about.”
many other UK rappers of the time, The Brotherhood chose not to emulate an American accent. Rapping in their London accents, the band made a point of being unashamedly UK hip hop. Their attitude was characterised by Mr Dexter: “Basically that quite a lot of the British people that are doing and listening to rap aren’t either 100% into being British/listening to British rap or they’re still thinking that rapping American and about American things is the key, and that just p****s us off. I mean this is something we’ve been going on about for a long time now