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Mark b

British hip-hop DJ and producer Mark B was a key part of DJ Vadim's mid- to late-'90s Jazz Fudge roster. Compared to the usual run of scratch-happy turntablists in underground rap, Mark was much more reliant on drum-machine dinosaurs and samplers. Equally comfortable producing instrumental solo albums and collaborative efforts with contemporaneous rappers, he also issued material throughout his career on his own K'Boro label: a reference to Kingston-upon-Thames, the borough of London in which he was born. The Unknown -- his 2000 LP with Blade -- was a high point both in his own canon and in the lineage of U.K. hip-hop. Born Mark Barnes, in 1970, he began recording for Jazz Fudge in 1995, and produced a couple of tracks for Vadim's 1996 debut U.S.S.R. Repertoire (The Theory of Verticality). Mark B then released his own debut album, the wholly instrumental Underworld Connection, the following year and collaborated with Blade for 1998's revered Hitmen for Hire LP. In 1999, he teamed up with Taskforce for New Mic Order before contributing to the Om compilation Deeper Concentration, Vol. 2. Reuniting with Blade for 2000's The Unknown was a strong move and saw him create infectious grooves to underpin the charismatic rapper's lyrical tales of challenges experienced in the music industry. The record enjoyed wider distribution on Wordplay -- Source Records' hip-hop imprint -- and created enough demand for an expanded edition to be issued the following year. Nevertheless, as the new century progressed, Mark B's output dissipated, primarily due to his disillusionment with the industry. He soon swapped London for North Wales, only intermittently producing records for his K'Boro imprint, such as Delta's 2006 album The Lostralian. After moving to Germany, he increasingly devoted time to reissuing archival K'Boro material for download. Sadly, on New Year's Day 2016, he died in his sleep at home as a result of a brain hemorrhage. DJ Food, Masta Ace, and DJ Vadim led the tributes to Mark B and his influence on the genre's development in the U.K.
© John Bush & James Wilkinson /TiVo
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