*Photography provided exclusively for NHC by Homegrownisalwaysbest
He extinguished the joint in the toilet pan with a hiss, lifting the bourbon from atop the cistern he knocked it back straight with a grimace. He was about to zip-up when a strange retching convulsion erupted within him. At first he blamed the merry dance of drugs in his system, but the second spasm came and it felt, different, different to anything he’d experienced before, and he’d only been drinking and smoking weed, none of the hard stuff or any psychedelics. And yet with the third shocking paroxysm his vision distorted into the wavy, luminously-patterned way it does on LSD. This surprised him even more than the pain.
He felt dizzy and nauseous and staggered to the edge of the bath, clutching himself and writhing. He started to suspect a heart attack, but when he vomited a crimson arc of blood across the alabaster porcelain of the bathtub he became confused. His thoughts were scattered by a searing agony which lanced through his body from his toes up to his head, and he fell to the ground as if gripped in a seizure.
What happened next was even more strange; his flesh decorticated back in red peels, he screamed a howl of agony as small bones started to snap within him in a sick symphony of crackles and crunches. His skin then felt as though it was tightening against his body and he was suffocating as if by some invisible net. His bones began to elongate and they ruptured his skin like white buds growing from soil. He felt like he was in some weird opening scene in the medical drama ‘House’. He wondered if he was suffering from ergot poisoning, but the pain was very real, if the hallucinations weren’t. His body swelled up and ripped through his red checked shirt and denims, seemingly sprouting hair through the holes in the fabric. With one last shudder he let out a long slow undulating wail of despair and keeled over, twitching, sniffing, slobbering… Send for Gregory…
Meanwhile, high above Glasgow’s heterogeneous medieval architecture, a ghoulish figure looked out on a city, a city insecure with a touch of vain that bleeds a painful memory softly trying to clutch her pain. It stared; watching the city, taking it in, the rain coated her skin and slithered down to her streets below, forming in deep slick puddles on the pot-holed road surfaces. His mouth twisted in a wicked grin of elongated fangs and his wide orb-like eyes shimmered in the reflection of the raindrops, two black onyxes staring out, unblinking, from a shit-grinning face that sliced the soul of anyone that caught its glare. But there was no-one up here in the rooftops, and there was only one place he could go where he could move undetected. ‘Time to come out and play’ he thought. Both the lycanthrope before, and the ghoul now, were descending upon the same destination; Ivory Black’s.
In Glasgow’s Ivory Black’s some of the best known hip hop artists and producers and fans were gathering for what was, though we only suspected it at the time, one of the best hip hop gigs of the year, even if only witnessed by a chosen few! Fuelled by Desperados I soaked up some brilliant musical energy in that place, as every artist brought their A-game and delivered scintillating set after scintillating set! First of which was Red King, I only knew him through a few shared drinks at Gasp’s album launch, but Jamie had touted him as “Chris Herron’s special pick” even though I hadn’t heard any of his music!
I was not to worry though, because he delivered an absolutely fucking storming set, that first got us into the groove with some soul, then dropped us into the murky waters of grime, before closing the with a belter of a tune, a secret weapon saved for last; the top-heavy, bass-driven, hard-hitting ‘Free Fall’. Though specific memories are hazy-ish, I remember being in awe of Red King’s lyrical dexterity, and if I remember rightly there was some pretty profound wordplay in there too. He didn’t skip a beat, flawlessly delivering his tongue-tangle of tumultuous tales with terrific talent.
Homegrownalwaysbest have done a great job of documenting Glasgow’s hip hop scene at many locations* and they were present that night to take this video of Red King’s cracking track, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
*I mean seriously, check out their page, no stone left unturned https://www.facebook.com/homegrownalwaysbest/
… and Red King performing ‘Free Fall’, but imagine the bass 10x louder, as it was that night, shaking the bricks and mortar of Ivory’s like so many trains that have rumbled over her head. https://www.facebook.com/homegrownalwaysbest/videos/280826149225916/
Steg G dutifully provided the beats for most the acts that night, except for Texture and Mistah Bohze who did their own, skilfully, but we’ll get to that… Steg teamed up with The Freestyle Master and they brought us some of the brilliant tracks from their fantastic opus ‘Freedom Frequency’ as well as a bunch of compelling and dynamic hardcore militant rap tunes from other works.
Basking in the brilliance of the Freestyle Master’s set was enough, but then I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around only to be confronted by a terrifying ghoul! We’re used to seeing Gasp covered in shit, or blood, or hematochezia, but a ghoulish Gasp made me gasp! Had I imbibed any psychedelics that night this apparition of a Gasp who had died and gone to hell and been promoted to demon and sent back to Earth, would have maybe broke my mind, but I learned my lesson about taking psychedelics at Halloween several years ago during a bad trip at a random costume party… Wait, did I learn that lesson? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I did, because if I was tripping I would never have believed the sight before me and would have also been terrified out of my very soul, because Gasp was wearing extremely effective make-up, so effective it looked like his face was computer generated or something… Wait, I definitely didn’t take psychedelics that night did I? Well, my feet do look like those of a werewolf!?!? I wriggled my toes to check, and then serendipitously The Freestyle Master onstage mentions something about Halloween being directly related to the onset of mushie season…
…Shall we take another jaunt down the rabbit hole?
Yeah, fuck it, why not…
There is plenty truth in what the Freestyle Master said; and I’ll go one further and say hallucinogenic fungi also have deep roots in many of our pagan traditions, up to and including Christmas, as well as being the catalyst for not only religious visions in the Bible, but the actual transformation of the human brain from the animal mind to the transcendent mind which we use today, to make art, music, science etc. See ‘Food of the Gods’ by Terence McKenna. It all makes perfect sense after you read that.
Halloween, or Samhain, has origins in the magic-mushroom-eating druids of Celtic Ireland; it is said to be the night the membrane between the otherworld and ours is so thin all nonhumans can pass through. It seems far more than coincidence that shrooms come into season and were harvested in September and October when they were preserved in honey or dried. Sometimes the fungus would ferment and it would make their primitive alcohol psychedelic! And Ireland now has a rich history of getting intoxicated! And the pixies, elves and faeries of their folklore have direct connections with fly agarics too, learn more on that here; http://oldmooresalmanac.com/the-mysterious-and-lost-magic-mushroom-rituals-of-the-ancient-celts/?fbclid=IwAR0uyIyjv-NQ6DKODlwsCtaJgxoMyaUUD2auvrVBMaStERBxIsvWQbO92U4
As for old Saint Nick, the connection between psychedelics and crimbo were even pointed out on an episode of QI! And anthropologist John Rush said “Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman; who consume mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit of the world”. Siberian and Arctic (North Pole, where Santa lives) shamans hundreds of years ago, used to dish out mushrooms at winter solstice; dropping into homes with a sack full of mushies as gifts. Because snow blocked the doors, they would often enter through chimney-like holes in the roof designed for people to enter and exit their tee-pees. Many believe this gave rise to the tradition of Xmas, but there’s plenty more, let’s go deeper…
Every year we put a pine tree (traditionally) up in our home to celebrate Xmas, we receive gifts from beneath the pine tree, the very same pine tree amanita muscaria commonly grows under throughout the Northern hemisphere, many historians and enthomycologists have pointed this out. The myth of the flying reindeer is an easy one to connect to the psychedelic fungi, not just cos’ they’re reindeer, and they’re flying, but because reindeer were spirit animals of Siberian tribesmen, and in the wild, as Andrew Haynes pointed out in the ‘ Pharmaceutical Journal’, the reindeer’s diet is chiefly, guess what, magic mushrooms! Which is why people, even to this day, drink the reindeer’s piss to get high.
North Pole shamans have a tradition of dressing up in red suits with white spots, just like the fly agaric mushroom and just like, you guessed it, Santa! (The myth of Coca-Cola turning Santa red has only a grain of truth in it). Mushrooms are ubiquitous at Christmas and even appear as tree ornaments in many cultures around the world. The shrooms were traditionally hung in a sock over the fireplace to dry, sound familiar? Somewhere along the line the powers-that-be turned the gift of mind-expanding drugs into the “gift” of commercial consumerism!
Oops, went down a rabbit hole again, blame The Freestyle Master’s comment for that. Speaking of whom, as they finished up a storming set (which Gasp’s demon and I moshed through before it slinked off over to Mistah Bohze to claim another soul) I went for a joint break and made it back in time to catch some real hip-hop all the way from the original home of rap, USA, specifically NY, in the form of Djtekwun and Scar Nitty! Who provided a belting set of some homegrown finest. Check out a video for one of Djtekwun’s songs here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UTJZPvyuDc
And his Soundcloud here; https://soundcloud.com/djtekwun
Next up was the mad-scientist-like virtuoso of Texture! An extremely talented individual; rapper, musician, writer, journalist, poet, producer… We basked in the glow of his genius as he spun some tracks, but the real treat came when the ghoul Gasp took his teeth out and joined him onstage to spit some bars like a demon stuck inside a piano. The small crowd was 100% hip-hopheads and we all watched like a dog watching its master eat a bacon sandwich as Texture and Gasp delivered an exclusive colab’ for the deserving audience, who lapped it up, salivating. Find a video of that brilliance here; https://www.facebook.com/homegrownalwaysbest/videos/2163300670610776/?q=gasp%20texture
I took a journey through the woods of Texture’s dark genius to the twisted cortex of his mind to review his album ‘Elevate’, find that article here: http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/7/17/texture-elevate-a-review-by-c-t-herron
Also find Texture himself reviewing Gasp’s brilliant new album CUNT here: http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/11/12/gaspcunt-a-texture-review
The night could have ended there and it would have still been brilliant, and yet we had one more dose of the finest hip hop to come, courtesy of Mistah Bohze, someone who has risen high in my list of favourite local rappers since I saw him live at Gasp’s album launch and especially after his performance at Hip Hop Halloween that night. He has been going for quite some time though, and if you need proof of his brilliance check out this tune; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qUD7975-LU
The alcohol, weed, good vibes and the music of Bohze coincided perfectly in my soul as he stepped on the stage in his skeleton guise, ‘neath those dreads, to deliver a very unique sound, one which not only marries a Scottish slant to hip hop but also to a reggae/ragga backbeat that twists and veers through the whole phantasmagoria of the musical spectrum; imbibing in its medicine everything from soul to R&B, to jungle to motherfucking boogaloo! A panacea of rhythm and melody, all expertly stitched with Bohze’s brilliant wordplay and lyricism and unmatchable flow.
As if that wasn’t enough, Gasp’s ghoul had grown restless again, and exophthalmic and thirsting for blood it crawled back on stage next to Bohze to deliver yet another surprise freestyle, the second that night! Check that out here; https://www.facebook.com/homegrownalwaysbest/videos/320868831827906/?q=gasp%20bohze%20nhc
Just like ayahuasca Gasp will rip a motherfucker’s ego out, kicking and screaming, and dropkick it 85 yards away. And he’ll happily do it with his own too. He is more prolific than most diseases; he can’t be stopped with conventional modern medical treatment. I first discovered him back in 2012 on one of my first ever assignments for NHC, the Gonzo Division was still in its embryonic stages then, he blew me away back that night even though he bombed through inebriation, when you catch him on a good one he’ll show you why he’s probably the best rapper in Scotland, and probably one of the best of Britain’s underground (even if The Skinny won’t admit it). Don’t look for that review I did back in 2012, it’s probably not very well written, in the same way I’ll look back on this in a years’ time and think it’s not very well-written. Gasp though, is a rolling stone, he just seems to shit genius songs as part of his daily routine, check out some of his latest work here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRjmh0ABXiI and here;
Gasp never fails to rip your heart out and present it to you dripping and throbbing, and not always in a sinister way either, sometimes it’s quite touching, because it always comes from the heart, and that’s why it’s so good, it’s genuine, it’s from the heart via a twisted genius mind, and he drops shit so heavy it leaves your world unbalanced.
“Yes people from Scotland can rap as well, we’re the same fucking race” ~ Gasp
Scottish hip hop just does not get enough coverage or as much success as it should, some of the most skilled, inventive, original and groundbreaking rappers inhabit all four corners of Glasgow and the surrounding areas, it’s as if it’s this giant secret that the rest of the world just haven’t caught onto yet!? But it’s not a secret, it’s right there, just look for it. A thought springs to mind; these days you’re less likely to find a bad rapper in Scotland than a good one, and there’s the ones that are good and there’s the ones that are brilliant, and there’s a fair few of them, to name them would require another page at least, so I won’t. I’ll end with this; get out and support your local music scene, whether it’s hip hop or rock, like the pages, watch the videos, but most importantly attend the gigs!
This is the first article I’ve wrote since the news of NHC opening its very own venue in February, something I’ve waited for for several years now, finally come to pass, I’ll see you all there for the opening party which is sure to be the party of 2019! The new venue is a game-changer in Glasgow. Event page for the opening weekend is here; https://www.facebook.com/events/1942911206016725/ till then I’ll seeya’ in the pit!
CTH. (Gonzo Div.)