Published Jan 01, 2006Like many producers, Aphrodite first blew up thanks to a remix. But it wasn't some random DJ adding a 4/4 beat under a hip-hop track à la Jason Nevins' "It's Like That." Aphrodite's 1998 take on "Jungle Brother" rolled out with only slight adjustments until it reached the break then the bass drops and pitched-up drum & bass beats bumrush the show. For many, this fantastic track was the first effective fusion of hip-hop and its British speed freak stepbrother drum & bass.
"I think it helped really develop the scene in North America," Aphrodite says from his Southeast London home. "Because reggae is nowhere as big as the rap scene, people understand rap a lot more readily. So if something comes through that borrows sounds and vibes from hip-hop, then its gonna be able to draw a wider audience." Pioneering the energetic style "jump up," a hook-heavy jungle offshoot, the producer also known as Gavin King went on to apply his ridiculously bouncy beats to classic hip-hop jams like "No Diggity" and "Gangsta Gangsta." But he doesn't necessarily see the two genres being closely related. "Drum & bass certainly didn't evolve from hip-hop, it just stole lots of ideas along the way," he says, adding that with producers like Timbaland the reverse is now true. "But one of the nice things about jungle and hip-hop is that because one is sometimes twice the speed of the other, you can join them together quite easily."
Though his self-titled debut long player made extensive use of hip-hop samples, Aphrodite enlisted some real live rappers for his follow-up Aftershock. "It's a lot easier to just go to a record collection and pull out an a cappella then it is to try and come up with something completely original. It was just a progression for me personally. To a dance floor it certainly doesn't make any difference whether it's original or sampled. Let's face it, they might go off to that Whitney Houston dub plate floating around as they might to something completely original."
Nevertheless, he's taking his entire genre, in hip-hop parlance, to the next level by hiring legendary rhyme slingers like Big Daddy Kane and Schooly D not too mention Flipmode Squad's Rah Digga and dancehall crooner Barrington Levy making original vocalists a vital part of his music.
But despite the cutting-edge tracks populating his new record, Aphrodite seems content to mine hip-hop's past even as he makes music for the future. "The thing I like about old school rap was it didn't matter what speed the track was and the lyrics weren't about attitude, it was about telling a story. Modern hip-hop can be wicked and some of the vibes can be wicked, but as a white Londoner, some of the lyrics are lost on me."