Featured Artist: Newtrament (October 2018)

Where best to start the featured artist section than with the person credited as creating the first UK hip-hop track, Bertram Johnson also known as Newtrament.

Newtrament was a London-based DJ who teamed up with MC Sir Drew and DJ Mr Mix (later a member of notorious Miami group 2 Live Crew) to record London Bridge is Falling Down released in 1984 on Jive Records. Based on the nursery rhyme of the same name and with a political message criticising electoral politics as a sham, it is considered one of the first British hip-hop tracks to make reference to the land of its origin. Despite the use of the cod American accent, which was a common feature on the majority of UK hip-hop releases in the 1980s, the track is still an important marker in the history of UK hip-hop and the development of the music.

Prior to releasing London Bridge is Falling Down Newtrament was part of the group Krew who were involved in the electronic music and breakdancing scenes that grew in popularity, particularly in Covent Garden which became the first city-wide focal point for hip-hop in the capital. The Newtrament Krew were founders of Rock Box a warehouse jam that could be seen as a precursor to the raves of the early 1990s. They were influential in establishing jams around London that helped further interest in hip-hop and also brought together the small clusters of interest that existed. This influence stretched beyond London as Newtrament regularly travelled down to Bristol, hosting jams with the likes of the Wild Bunch (later to be known as Massive Attack) and helping to create links between the two burgeoning scenes.

Despite being an influential figure in UK hip-hop at the time, Newtrament appears to have released very little else. His legacy is very much that of folklore and the intangible impact of helping to bring people together under the banner of hip-hop when the scene in London was small and fragmented. Nevertheless homage should be paid to this pioneer who helped play a part in making UK hip-hop what it is today.