This Queen's Honours
10 compositions across several scrollable pages, providing an essential selection of the UK's recent/ more not so recent Tribute Chart favourites. Kicking off with an album that spent a whopping 58 weeks in the official top 40 back in 1989, 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul - launching features by other global stars with huge hits, including Mr Steen from Denmark; Ata from Finland; and the fabulous The OPP collab with Fly No Filter in Leeds; all as tribute echoing Ojo Taiye's This Lotus is a Rabbit inside a tribute to Belhacel's Club and Street Dances: An Art of Remembrance.
This Queen's Honours documents the punctums in This Lotus is a Rabbit. These piercings serve to initiate deeper cuts, creating a bleed of 10 poetic responses as a collection of living eulogies to Hip Hop. With an assimilation of the musical tropes of sampling, scratching and beat juggling, this is an experimental compilation, more than an EP/ not quite an album, in written form¹. Remixing Taiye's focus on body language, This Queen's Honours is a sharing of personal wonderment and appreciation for the culture and its legends, with a syntax that flows and ruptures implicative of the punctuated grace of this Bgirl. This Queen's Honours is words in motion. Choreography on the page. A stammered bellow from below the earth
as this Queen dreams of the trailblazers, beat makers, before influencers
and the competition generation streamed the scene.
Seemingly unimportant minutiae arrest my attention,
provoking me back to a past dimension
with the smell from a grill sparking nostalgia as
this Queen reels. Wheel it up like Godfrey Gummer.
¹Regrettably I missed the window to submit for Now That's What I Call Music 113, which was released, 18th November 2022
1. 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul
there are things lovely and strange
like the first time you wear a new pair
of tube socks, like toblerones and sakura blooms
even without these 3 eye know you'll be close to me because
there are things lovely and strange
for instance, our musical taste is shaped
by insubordinate selections as a spewing minor;
questionably competent at 16, the legal capacity in england isn't fully realised until 18 but we signed sealed and delivered contracts of musical preference pre-adult
– peaking 13 for the f-f-f-females, 14 for all others.
2 months 2 weeks 2 days no less
from the release date of 3 Feet High
and Rising to my 14th bornday. yes
people really do wish when they blow out the candles:
De La's debut. you in a kangol.
l-l-l-lovely and strange coalescence of
philosophy, playfulness and
cumbrous themes before streaming made instant attainable
not password protected but coveted
in cardboard hi-lighter yellow,
pink, green and tango. eye know
you'll lovely better because
there are things love me and strange
slid between grey organisation 300gsm,
3 pairs of 3 Feet feet lead Posdnuos, Trugoy, Maseo
as forerunners of a new race in concept, skits and sampling
prior to cliché, foregrounding
[key of c, stacatto:
(f-g) (f-g) (f-g) (f-g) (f-g) (f-g) – (e-g) (e-g) (e-g) (e-g) (e-g) (e-g) – (d-b) (d-b) (d-b) (d-b) (e-a) (d-b) – (c-c)]
derwin's revenge wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawith a chirp and transforming
shaping the daisy age hip hop identity,
disa vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwvowed 3 times 2 years after Me
Myself and I 12” warped in the french
exchange sun on that w-w-w-windless day. De La Soul is Dead.
there are things lovely and strange like
record crackles p-popping into The Magic Number
fondness for you, for me a game changer
with options in neon and re visi tation of
Gerald Holtom's super-im po sition of
semaphore signals, pro CND, but more directly
to De La's peace. positively l-l-l-lovely and strange for you like
a metal pick going through your hair like
a tease of petrol in the air
eye liked that De La's back catalogue
was MIA online, access only for those who know
only with original pressings testing 3 Feet's genius.
impact as intellectual discourse, more subtle.
with a huggable funable vulnerable
influenced landscapes of hip hop to follow.
royalties dispute now settled, 3.3.23,
coincide with 3 Feet's 34th anniversary all will be streamable
and i'm not sure how eye feela bout this
folding your washing, only because eye was folding
eye came across your neon yellow and pink De La tee
favourited and worn as us, 596637 plus
3 Feet away eye hope you'll stay close to me
because mmm when a daisy grows in your mind
a n d j u s t a s w e p u m p e d t h e s t e r e o u p, t h e l i f e v e s t d e f i b r i l l a t o r w a s n o t e n o u g h
a g a i n s t c o n g e s t i v e h e a r t f a i l u r e. f a t i g u e d, t h e r e w i l l b e n o d a n c i n g
t o d a y. 1 2. 0 2. 2 3 T r u g o y t h e D o v e.
“it's not just kids dancing on a street corner for a nickel. they put
more heart and soul into their work than any dancer i know. james,
it's real. it's f-f-f-fresh”
2. Rock Steady Crew
samedi matin was spent à l'école
but mercredi was a whole day free
for leaves tempered by their fall
to carousel around our ankles. we
would take the train then metro
into paris and i can't stop looking
through the high wire fences hoping
to parley with chien méchant to bring
him chez moi and be mon ami
i can't stop looking. neither can m-m-my brother
us two unhewn enfants anglais, bored
in the queue at the portes des lions, stare
at the turquoise feline bodies. my b-b-brother
blurred in memory, thinking about a
croque monsieur déjeuner
and me imagining my own ballon rouge
to be my helium company.
up early in the autumn glow
this mercredi, the centre pompidou. dreams
of ascending the mechanical caterpillar up up
top to the rooftop café, and passant par
the boutique de souvenirs with pencil and a
smelly rubber were effacé as i c-c-can't stop looking
at the reflection on the glass façade; young girl
se rencontre a new world joining her in mirrored view,
on the concrete piazza outside the centre, under
la chenille - the caterpillar:
bearing silence of sepulchral tones,
charged back from ancestral w-w-wounds, in unity
i felt the heat of the last year's Été Chaud but not
violence urbaine, the problème des banlieues...
this was a riot of necessity, an instinctive expulsion of energy
which brings me suddenly to the nouveau monde
with wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawild-eye delight i can't stop looking
mum says they're busking, dad adds street performing
m-m-my brother copying the jolts, absorbing this thing
je n'avais pas vu avant
i can't stop looking. neither can my brother
no detail left except one dancer
musically manifested mechanical.
in a pre-cybernated w-w-world with only
a digital watch as reference, nothing made sense
of the electricity that ran through me
in this other country's capital, paris
and how i felt g-g-goddess in guttural company
this was me. moi froid jamais but this
was a cool lingering on my skin, slipping to my core
i skipped my version of tops away from the metro stop
full with reverb as nous sommes rentrés to a suburb
delineated by sky high clotures, protected by dribbling hounds
who wound round their chains like feet to hands footwork.
dans la cuisine, dans la grande maison carrée, i found my first circle
in a cascade of formless impulse,
another cocoon had been spun
“head up. c-c-c-caress me. with passion... dance. dance. across
3. Mr Steen (Out of Control)
i would play and rewind to replay and re-meet that moment i first witnessed music become movement, embodied. the synth drifted over and round his animation, i shivered piloerection in slow motion, bass hit and rolled me in, him a full W 94bpm, and what tidal wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawave i felt, i watched play out in his body. his collapsible body.
rewound. first 44 seconds a sensual conjecture of oh honey swirled in warm drips kissed my skin, quivered into my nipples, constricted my throat. tricep spilt the caress of Ken Gold's production under my deltoid and HIS t-t-ticking, t-teasing for 2 minutes and 33 seconds all the way from a dimestop in denmark to folkestone to my vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwVCR
live, mesmerised i'd gawked bewildered by glides; backslide floated the spiky haired dancer to penetrate epidermis, dermis, down to subcutaneous tissue. his crew, Shok1 backdrop, the bass hit and rolled me back under to culture. this could be my salvation, my inspiration. to have something that'll never doubt me walkout of his collapsible body.
“you know why everybody's afraid? it's because they don't understand it.”
4. Philips Compact Cassette Recorder EL 3302A Tape Deck
like all pieces of equipment, my dad had brought it home from work.
this meant it did not belong to us
and there was a whole team of technicians in a storage cupboard, somewhere at his college, people under the stairs who question[ed] in the form of an answer,
barely saw the light of day and would be very angry if we damaged anything.
dad's name carried weight and
people did him favours and
any bad behaviours would taint
his reputation, bring dishonour on the family. clearly
the bridge city
equivalent of mafia and the yakuza
unlike a library loan or blockbuster rental
with a return deadline or incremental fines, the EL 3302A
stayed at home, recording my speech to document the development of my understanding of language,
through my formative years,
through the detachable handheld m-m-m-microphone
1983 dad unfurled from work with a magic lead.
everything unplugged and the big light switched off.
dismissed from the living room until safe to return,
in an act of dickensian legerdemain
dad pushed the button towards the single triangle on the philips compact cassette player. a world without borders opened up to me: he had succeeded in recording Thompson Twins direct from TV.
i was authorised to subloan this longterm loan on a part time basis to listen to Hold Me Now repeatedly in my bedroom. but
i had to hang the black strap from the carry case
of the EL 3302A
around my neck whenever transporting it.
while the strap looped my cervical,
i had to hold the bottom of the EL
3302A in both hands. i never touched the magic lead or knew where it was kept.
in retrospect it was probably hidden in a sandwich bag in dad's coat pocket.
a cable with crossover connections
1991 GCSE expressive arts dance prompt machination:
hulking frame, solid block black and metal die-cast chasis. rotary vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwvolume and recording dials on the side and round five pin DIN sockets with complicated paw and petal patterned holes for audio input/output. on top a silver surround 3D button with alerting red infill. in the middle an L shaped lever with double triangular arrows to the l-l-l-left and right, one single upward facing, then a moving coil meter - a recording level indicator mounted vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwvertically to save space behind clear plastic. lid flipped up for easy access to the tape with reliable metal control linkages, pulleys, drive wheel, capstan fly-wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawheel and finally silver perforations pocking the back just shy of half, with speaker. sheathed in its protective black carry case. 20 by 11.5 by 5.5 centimetres this box with a microphone, monochrome clone lego brick was in 1965 the smallest transistor technology of its time.
this philips/ dad's/ mine-by-proxy mono compact cassette recorder manufactured to mass volume with built in erase bias, provided high quality audio reproduction
high quality audio reproduction
and a pause function i never knew existed via a switch on the mic which cut the power.
press down the raised red record button, simultaneously slide the single arrowed play button for high quality audio reproduction
box with a microphone. welcome to the beginnings of my pause button mixes.
“now, now jump. come on, fly. fly. feel it. cut. that's it. now
you've got it.”
5. Ata (Ghost Crew)
clapham common dusty with dehydration
dried to the sepia of undefined memories
colour blocked in brown – cords, vest and
fairer baseball top. bottomed with light
adidas galaxys shaded more to his very blond.
i watched him be the cypher's epicentre,
h-h-h-home to protect and serve. deserved of this
spatial occupation, each movement seeped
with a modern translation of tradition.
sweat teemed with sweeps, stabs and history
energy was palatable, pulsing like the presage of
a migraine. a vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwvigour as difficult to contain
as the carelessness of youth. as he
danced, the choked circle respectfully opened to give his
impatient freedom space as blond may darken with age
rhythmic lapse of slow unmeasured afternoons
stretched the immortality of h-h-h-heritage. hauntingly,
Ata hit every musical legacy Leacy cued up.
articulated every instrument, punctuated all his choreographic
sentences with a burn; slick, cocky he earned it
“you're looking better. you still gotta learn how to relax though...
loosen up. let the music caress you.”
6. Miracles by M.C Duke
sunk back in my corner spot, i climb off the sofa and flick through my 12”s at the point i expected to find him, between Mac, Mac with the Jammalot Kingdom; and M.C Lyte. no. he is hiding, misplaced behind Mighty Ethnics. sporting casual off-shoulder look, M.C Duke's red leather goose is tipped back; his mate i believe to be Leader 1, feigning insouciance as his black bomber slips to his elbows. Duke in a bboy stance, name on belt buckle, on three finger gold knuckle duster both duplicated on the teeshirt he's wearing with a graf character of him wearing his buckle and ring. fat rope dookie, music of life badge, looking like he can hold a grudge for at least 5 years. let me be clear, this record was my lesson.
saturday nights gathered secretly at milton tescos to be convoyed to a wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawarehouse in the middle of a field. until morning h-h-h-here lived thousands of people just like me, who cuss like me – a little bit lost, a little bit wild, mental mental fucking mental, but not quite me all dancing for ourselves, for the m-m-m-music, taking part in our bass-driven rev-vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwolution. like Duke, how could i be in two places at the same time? raving in pink wallys, and fully committed to my hip hop identity, whilst quietly swapping collections of The Cure dubbed onto customised TDK tapes.
in amongst the emerging britcore of my boyfriend's collection, i liked this one. it wasn't Duke lecturing me to listen to the education in the song, i was never going to overtly take direction - i liked the singing existing as an integration of other. not all s-s-s-small moments end as this definable discerning conversation led to my boyfriend meeting me at the back gate from school, with a wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawhite paper inlay sleeved 12”. coverless due to the moneyless slight of hand acquisition of this personal rev-vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwolution: Jackson Sisters. i learned this was the original for something called a sampled hook, on Duke's record and showed my new single more than a little love.
sunday dawn warmed the wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawarehouse somewhere near linton. locked in this disused hanger, unaware of potential disaster with access barricaded to prevent police intervention i was listening with my recent alert to sampling - amidst the non hip hop mix apache snuck in and planet rock, snippets enough for me to begin work on being ok with all the sugars that twist the ladder for my DNA. you me and we rise like the sun, i'm on a chill tip cold gettin lyrical and as the tune says, i believe in miracles
“we're gonna eat you and spit out the pieces we don't like.”
7. London Posse
straight in and out of the circle
no messin about. like a stick and poke, hit and freeze. done
none of these minute plus long arse competition rounds
no small talk, no preamble.
no dillying and dallying, no spin the bottle – who wants it?
[key of f: f ag c – c ga f – agf c – c ga f]
when boning was still new to me and hitchin overspilled my name to china
here came the r-r-r-rugged ones.
somethink different from hamburgers and plastic shine of america
here came the rugged ones.
cockney vvvde vvv v-v-vowwwwwwwvoice with sound system sentiments
devoured the remoteness of cambridge and forced walks in the fens
by sharing stories from manor instead of queens. I dreamed
of a low wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawindy evening with my rude gals
the white and black grain of them roughnecks
underground, on an escalator in all black wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawayfarers
a night stripped to unlatching hours, London Posse made hip hop ours
proud with homegrown accents, not a diluted affected version of a transatlantic expression
our stories, familiar faces, spaces - step slow ragga, check my grammar, and tell me
h-h-h-how's life in london? wickedest sound under the sun
h-h-h-here came the rugged ones
“more emotion. to the mirror. feel it. alright now, turn around”
tall, beautiful we course the arc
every diameter a chord, not every chord a diameter.
keen insistence urges into a segment
binding the burst between two radii back to a sector.
diameter floundered by r-r-r-recurrent drunk punter
wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawe slide the o over to open into a corner
swooping the radius, surging the circle
circumference impervious, jackets reversible
“street dancing belongs on the street. it won't get you to broadway”
9. The Opp
i am my shadow that also lands infront of me
concocting nasty plots, warrior and a mystery
with fronts and footwork fresh like oral b,
here to steal shine like i’m on robbery,
stacking up demands like i just won the lottery,
down and dirty, talking smack to me comes easily
as maybe i'm planting seeds of misery
think me's better than i, not likely
but don’t take i lightly, get lively, certi
as unsightly i'm buried deep in my psyche
i’m undercover scheming, pushing me to keep going
constantly exploring, callouses ripped and bleeding
i'm feeding, feasting, reaping whilst me is weeping,
in untamed hallways drilling, training, score-keeping.
head high, apparel neat to perfection,
on a mission, i'm hitting stabs like targets with precision,
my body names it's destination carving shapes like an ablation
recouperation will ruin all my cycles, as i choke all my circles
challenging my levator ani and coccygeus muscles
cos jokes on me, I’m funnier than my uncle
bring that rage cos my battles i be winning in.
i'm back in again, my skin again
like hannibal i've eaten me all, swallowed me whole
and farted me out again.
i’m undercover scheming, pushing me to keep believing
still breathing, callouses ripped and bleeding
i'm feeding, feasting, reaping whilst me is weeping,
in untamed hallways drilling, ignoring the fatiguing.
i’m my nightmare, my nemesis,
naughty with burns and devious tricks;
glue on my door handles, pins in my sneaks,
chocolate in my shower head. biro in fist,
i am the opp, top of the list
as i write slick sentences
tongue flicks, i spit venomous ish, and switch.
forensics be looking for the sickest,
i’m a killer like alice morgan is,
never looking back, I’m out clean like the dishes
[with mild green fairy liquid]
“you owe me seven dollars man... for teaching you how to dance sucker.”
m62 past haribo, sky sunk to red and i can't smell the flowers. syrup, dextrose, bilberry and aronia. glazed, i lost hours. tangfastic were them spaces where everyone rolled deep: dance wasn't stale or single-minded. injected with fresh dreams and furbelows from films seen for free via cannon cinema's wee imbued side entrance. enthused by my crew who bombed loos in the outdoor pool while the old man swam lengths in his altogether after hours, and after eight mints were the after dinner aspiration. after this culture fragmented, augmenting dance into its own scene dismissing the scheme of breaks, samples and actual hip hop music where the past and present used to be to creep royalty free loyalty free internet friendly productions to soundtrack the next wack event, diminishing life affirming symbiosis of dj to dancer; carnauba waxing you to me.
wick wick wick wick wick wick whaaawith no crew, no me and you, there is no dance. no place to show myself fully, no point for a share size zingfest or sodatwist, no one to commando or exchange tapes with. even our playlist is academic but i learn the red is a result of rotation, a continuous backspin on a daily loop station, just sun's light passing through at a lower angle - longer wavelengths become more visible and the sun has not verily gone anywhere. carry it always, family you choose where people being people move with individuality inside a crew identity to testify hours not lost; rhythms tracing ridges into our skin as we tread new lines between.
Commissioned for Ink Cypher, May 2023
A response to This Lotus is a Rabbit: 10 Poems as Tribute by Ojo Taiye
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Lucy is a writer and dance artist, specialising in bBoyin and creating work underpinned by Hip Hop culture. She makes art to revisit, capture, deconstruct moments, and test boundaries. Raised by Hip Hop culture, Lucy experiences art as a communal event, a dialogue of stories. She was born in London in 1975, and grew up with her adopted parents in Cambridge. By seventeen, Lucy was expecting her first child and expelled from sixth-form. She began her career as a professional dancer with the Sinstars bBoy crew five years later, and has performed, competed, and judged internationally, with a legacy of students.
Lucy has been devising subversive, Hip Hop based theatre work since 2000 to define, reinterpret and extend the boundaries of bBoyin as a performing art. Her first degree was in Communication Studies, analysing of a range of cultural and communicative practices for which she produced a film on the portrayal of British bGirls. Lucy gained a Distinction for her second degree, an MA in Creative Writing, exploring the intertextuality of Hip Hop in written form. Supported by Arts Council England, Lucy is one third of the triumvirate of directors for the arts organisation, SIN Cru.
Lucy Crowe, Credit Simon Richardson