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Anti-Pop ConsortiumAnti-Pop Consortium
Anti-Pop Consortium - July 30, 2011

When DJ Shadow asked on his debut record why hip-hop wasted away so much in 1996, he could not have foreseen the creation of such an important alternative rap group. A few months later, four New Yorkers declared war against plastic background music and embellished choruses and they took the top charts by storm. The experimental, electronic background music and the verses reminding of the stream of consciousness constituted their weapon in the battle for the good name of street music. And they were supported by the biggest independent record companies: 75Ark, Warp and Big Dada.

July 30, Saturday, 23.30
T-Mobile Music in Arsenal

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New York in the mid-nineties thought it had seen the future. The underground/independent hip hop scene which flourished at the time was an all out attack on the over-commercialization of the music, a challenge to both the dominant modes of production and exploitation as well as to the lack of creativity to be found in the mainstream. As Beans, put it, looking back, it "seemed that the music had a lot of promise and the future of where the music could go was still undetermined." No group has come to embody that fiercely independent spirit more than Anti-Pop Consortium.

"We met at an event called Rap Meets Poetry that was held at The Time Cafe every first Monday of the month," remembers Priest. Typical of the time, it was an event that explored the links between poetry, spoken word and rap and, as performers and audience members, M. Sayyid, Earl Blaize, Priest and Beans were all there. Something clicked - a similar outlook, a determination to drive the music forward, a raw, radical futurism.

As the group coalesced they didn't even have a name. The four of them put out a series of mixtapes (proper cassettes!) on their own Anti-Pop Records and called them "Consortium" volumes 1, 2 and 3. The people who were picking up the tapes began to refer to the coalition behind them as the Anti-Pop Consortium and the group as we now know it was born.

The Consortium's emblem - a stylised corporate stick figure with a burning head - was also already in place, created by the graphical smarts of High Priest himself. With it, the team began their assault with an infamous xerox and sticker campaign that landed Priest in jail for vandalism under Giuliani's "increased standard of living regime." Fortunately the police thought that he was working for a promotions company and let him off with the promise that he would cease defacing public property. Which wasn't quite how it worked out... Coupled with the verbal pyrotechnics of their live show, the Consortium gained the favor of both staunch B-boy purists and experimental electronics heads The backpackers were in awe of the group's varied and contrasting, quickfire rhyme styles, whereas the techies loved their four man MPC jams.
Dan The Automator (now probably best known for his work with the Gorillaz) heard the buzz all the way from San Francisco and signed the group to be the first act on his new imprint, 75 Ark. The result was "Tragic Epilogue," an album made up of tracks taken from the last mixtape plus some new material. It was swiftly followed by "Shopping Carts Crashing," released on a Japanese label and exported to fans across the world. But then, in an iconic move, APC signed to UK electronic label, Warp . "It's funny," says Beans. "We actually shopped the first record to them before 75 Ark but we eventually ended up on Warp."

The classic "Arrhythmia" followed in 2002 and took APC's sound to a worldwide audience. "At that point in time," offers E. Blaize, "it was our best record." To promote it they went out on Radiohead's world tour and returned to the States to go straight out on a giant DJ Shadow tour. The album was receiving great notices and cemented their status as landmark innovators. But differences over their next creative step, plus the pressures of constant touring all took their toll. "We broke up," Sayyid explains, "six months after that record was released."
But a little something was missing. A couple of years ago a mutual friend brought the guys back together on Beans' birthday. They recorded "Fluorescent Black" - their strongest work yet and an album which, you could argue, they've been working on for seven years. Over that time, the groundwork they laid with their releases earlier this decade have gone on to influence a new generation of hip-hop, from the underground to the mainstream and beyond. With "Fluorescent Black", the group has matured and finds their talents at their peak, undoubtedly raising the bar higher in all respects. "We're grown men," says Sayyid, "so our acceptance of our differences has allowed us to bring more magic to the table. We're stronger now and the music is better for it."

ticket: 40 PLN
for festival pass holders: 20 PLN

The ticket includes entries to all concerts in the Festival Club on July 30.

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