Playlist: Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

“The world don’t revolve around you, but it should”: Chris Carr’s musical heroes are on tour and it’s the perfect excuse for a playlist…

Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip have moulded a nice little niche for themselves within modern British music. Unperturbed by the relentless churning of the gears of chart trends, the pair have punched a hole in the convention of what’s popular. Starting out as independent artists and still existing on independent labels, they are long-standing ambassadors for the underground and independent scene and have earned a proud place within British music history.

But who are they? Both growing up in the small town of Stanford le Hope, Essex, Le Sac and Pip crossed paths working at the local HMV store. They quickly became friends; resonating closely with each other whilst a support network of musical minds formed around them. Some helped both develop their skills; resulting in the independent release of Pip’s first solo album, No Commercial Breaks, and prompting the two to join forces.

The duo’s debut studio album, Angles, found its way into music shops nationwide in 2008. The release helped the pair achieve a strong cult status; it also allowed plenty of hip-hop fans to breathe a sigh of relief at an album that prioritised substance over style. With Angles, Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip gave British Hip-hop a great escape from Gangster Rap, paving the way for a movement towards making music with depth and intelligence. The hit single from this album, Thou Shalt Always Kill, had actually been released the year before the rest of the album was recorded; it  epitomised the unique nature of their sound, and set them aside from, well, everything else in commercial pop at the time. The track has roots in hip-hop but employs a layered dance-style beat as background to Pip’s post-modern, semi-documentary, satirical (sometimes silly) rhymes; as the man says,  ”… nothing is more entertaining than fucking with words and their arrangement.”

Their second album, The Logic of Chance, saw the pair extend their musical boundaries and cement their progressive and sometimes political sentiments through songs such as Get Better, Inert Explosions and Great Britain. The pair toured extensively for this second album but took a break shortly after the touring had ended in order to pursue solo efforts.

Listening to either of the solo albums from this period, 2010 until 2012, it is striking to hear the individual components of two vastly differing musical worlds take form. Pip’s second solo album, Distraction Pieces (2011), features a visceral mix of hardcore and rock music blanketed with intricate poems and raps. Dan le Sac’s solo album, Space Between the Words (2012), is a different animal altogether and showcases the delicate tapestries that the DJ and producer is capable of weaving together — atmospheric trip-hop, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass and hints of house. The collective  repertoire is unendingly eclectic; these albums do not merely hint at what secret ingredients make their  group efforts so special, but they make the listener aware of what makes them so capable of garnering widespread critical acclaim.

Both parties toured extensively once again for their respective solo albums, as well as Pip going on a spoken word tour that culminated in the re-release of his first album, No Commercial Breaks, which included an additional live spoken word album taken from the tour. 2013 then saw the two artists gravitating towards each other once again, ready to use their experiences to create a new,  more refined and accomplished album as a duo.

Repent, Replenish, Repeat dropped into public consciousness during the latter half of 2013; putting an end to what seemed to be the most productive and shortest unofficial hiatus that the music industry had so far witnessed. It reached the highest chart position of any Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip release to date; entering the national top ten. All of this from two artists who refuse to surrender their integrity for popularity and who release hybrid-fringe hip-hop on an independent label? What is this hocus-pocus?

It’s an album that proves that there is space for conscious art and action within popular culture. The collection boasts some sublime poetry and topical lyrics as well as some dynamic electronica, darkly industrial beats, a pulsing beat-driven momentum and some wonderful artwork to boot. It also features guest cameos from Flux Pavilion, former King Blues frontman Itch, and drummer Timmy Rickard.

If there is one thing to learn from the story of Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip it is that nothing is more important than sincerity, persistence and vision. Long may they continue to pull popular music up from out of its innocuous slump.

Chris Carr

Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip’s UK tour starts in Wolverhampton on Tuesday 22 April 2014

See them in Liverpool at East Village Arts Club, Thursday 24th April 2014, 7 pm, tickets: from £15.18 ADV

Posted on 23/04/2014 by thedoublenegative