As many of you will be well aware of by now, UKHH veteran Blade started building a series of videos on his 05:21 Offical YouTube channel at the end of 2020, the main focus being to ‘grow the scene’ and helping to bring attention to the new as well as calling out anyone from the past. Currently the team behind ’05:21′ consists of Blade, a cameraman and soundguy who do all of the work.The series is organised into various categories including Sofa Chats, Live, Music Videos and Turntablism, it has garnered a lot of attention with artists such as Mista Dexter (The Brotherhood), Chester P, Huntkillbury Finn (HKB FiNN), Stereo MCs and many more all featuring on the channel. We at UKHH.com thought it would be a good idea to catch up with the rap icon to discuss the origins, motivations and future ideas for the channel, which in his own words is not entirely focused around UK Hip Hop, although it does feature predominantly throughout the series, “I want to cover artists across all musics, have conversations and tell incredible stories”. When questioned about the channel Blade confirmed that “I have a long term plan that will benefit many. I’m not expecting anyone to see my vision but just to have faith and believe a change is possible if we all pull together and support each other in any little way we can. We have gone down the route of not supporting each other outside of our small circles for years and failed. Now let’s try supporting each other beyond those small circles and make this work for as many as possible. I have met so many people in my life with interesting stories but people have never heard them”. Blade has been part of the Hip Hop landscape for most of his life but he is also a big fan of other musics and has crossed genres himself, take the ‘Ya Don’t See The Signs’ remix with Feeder for example. He wants the channel to reflect the way that people consume music and media nowadays by including anything and everything from Shalamar to Public Enemy and Sade, as well as non-musical stories from around the globe, literally anything that is noteworthy or remarkable will feature.
What had initially started as an idea for a podcast eventually manifested into the video series during the pandemic of 2020, but Blade was unable to get anyone during this time to build the actual studio in which most of the videos are now being recorded. However, once his heart was set on the idea he ended up taking matters into his own hands and doing much of the building work himself, with it taking around 7-8 months and including plastering, studio fit out and tech setup, as well as the actual editing of the videos and social work to spread the word about the channel, clearly this was a labour of love.
“We have gone down the route of not supporting each other for years and failed. Now let’s try supporting each other and make this work for as many as possible”
The channel aims to help introduce new younger fans to artists like Phi Life Cypher, for example, connecting the legacy of the music to the next generation. Essentially it is trying to create a platform or ‘central hub’, that artists can use to promote themselves but in return can also help power the platform for others, by directing fans towards it and sharing content. The main challenge has been that some artists don’t want to put their videos through this hub and only really want to put content on their own social channels, not realising that by using such a platform that they can ultimately share their music with a bigger more connected audience. Some wanted to see the results before the results happen, so waited in the wings at the start. If all the artists got together and supported the same music video or content, more unified then the scene can thrive. “Someone has to be brave enough to take a stand and not only support someone if you support me attitude. This is a bad mentality, I will not support people who don’t support me, we are doomed if people keep on with this attitude”. For anyone who doesn’t know, Blade successfully ran a CD duplication service for many years, helping artists to get their music out on physical, he recalls that when working with the different artists that many were complaining about the lack of support in the scene, so this sowed a seed and grew the idea of a hub that was so sorely needed “We can all eat from it, people can discover new artists for events, festivals and talk to people from all walks of life”, this is a refreshingly positive approach to a previously disconnected world of artists and fans alike.
When asked about which musical artist he would most like to interview on 05:21 whether dead or alive he replied “Rakim, Kool Keith, KRS1, Chuck D, Kool G Rap or Guru”, no surpises there as they are all legends in their own right. However, when asked if he could interview anyone dead or alive outside of music for the channel his answer was surprisingly ‘Diego Maradona‘, the Argentine professional football player and manager, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport (for anyone who doesn’t know). He was also responsible for the notorious ‘Hand of God‘ incident during the 1986 World Cup, if you are unfamilar with this incident then have a read. The main reason for his choice being “Maradona’s love for football and his passion. I have read all of his books and we had a similar childhood story, in some ways. He (Maradona) recalls a moment during his childhood when he was playing in the garden and fell into a latrine, a deep pit used as a toilet, I often wonder what was going through his mind at the time and whether he used this throughout the course of his life to symbolise an absolute low point you can fall to and ‘the necessary climb’ you must make to achieve greatness, which ultimately he made to become the legend we know him as today”. It is at this point I want you to pause and visualise Blade asking Maradona about this incident on 05:21…what a moment this would be. Blade also mentioned ‘Jimmi Hendrix, Bruce Lee and Steve McQueen’ as other legends he would like to have featured on his channel.
“If you could interview anyone for 05:21 dead or alive, who would it be? ….’Diego Maradona’….”Blade speaking on his most sought after interviewee
He continued speaking about the beginnings of the channel “It wasn’t going to be about me, this is not a Blade story and this is not a Hip Hop channel, this is more about sharing the untold stories that surround us. I have always said that I wouldn’t put up boundaries, don’t put me or anyone in a box, if you choose to put up those boundaries then you are restricting yourself and the world is so much bigger than that. It shows people that it is ok to listen to all genres of music, it is ok for a Hip Hop artist to be at a concert with Goths, I have seen people into Jason Donovan at my shows, I know that because we (Mark B & Blade) supported Jason Donovan. Nowadays music is like being at a sweet shop there is so much choice and we shoud embrace that”.
We wouldn’t be UKHH.com if we didn’t ask Blade about whether the channel and working with artists again could tempt him out of retirement, “I received 800 plus requests to do tracks after announcing my official retirement. Even Tom from myspace reached out on a private message asking if he could convince me to stay on myspace. I have always been a creative person since the day of birth, I still beatbox and write on and off, I freestyle etc but I don’t miss it, I’m happy just performing to myself”.
So what will the future hold for the 05:21 Official channel? “I want to talk to people who have had their time in the limelight, so that they can share their successes and failures, so we can help others learn from the mistakes we made. In the past if the youngers needed help, the elders were not always there but through the interviews and this central hub idea we can change all of that. That is why we ware documenting all of these stories, to encourage the youngers and make them understand that it’s not always easy, money will not always be made through music and don’t focus on the money, focus on the music and the money will eventually come”. Blade expresses that “Everybody is connected to Hip Hop in some way, this network we are building will help the new generation on a shorter trip into the industry, especially when you have a support collective behind you, helping to shape your musical experience”, he also hinted that a 05:21 festival wouldn’t be out of the question (depending on covid obviously). Another goal for the channel would be for one of the main networks to take notice and ultimately lead to a TV show of their own, then any money generated by the channel could be fed back into the machine helping to create a festival and get artists seen on an international stage.
Blade reminds us to “Do something because you love it, chase your dream” and that 05:21 isn’t just a collection of videos, there are many incredible stories here, “It’s bigger than just Hip Hop… this is life”.
Blade featured on Romesh Ranganathan’s popular podcast “Hip Hop Saved My Life”, make sure you have a listen here, where he speaks about his amazing career in Hip Hop, collaborating with Mark B and the pitfalls of performing live. For anyone wishing to submit their work to Blade’s 05:21 channel, watch this video that explains how.
Have you got a UK Hip Hop story that needs to be told? Then get in touch, we always want to hear more tales like this from the scene.
Words by Theo Specone