Believe it or not, White Europeans helped build the foundation for hip-hop’s evolution. The German new-wave electronic group, Kraftwerk helped to plant the seeds of hip-hop. “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambatta would have never existed if it were not for Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express”. Like other early hip-hop pioneers, Kraftwerk were pushing the boundaries of musical experimentation. After the gold age of hip-hop, England’s Meat Beat Manifesto (led by Jack Dangers) pushed the envelope further by creating electronic hip-hop.
Throughout the 80’s & 90’s, White guys from Europe never truly earned respect within hip-hop. “Lucus With The Lid Off” by Lucas was basically annoying. Stereo MC’s were decent, but were never considered a part of hip-hop culture. Meat Beat Manifesto was different because their complicated rhythms and intricate sampling.
Hip-hop laws enforce the emcee to be an honest individual when rocking the microphone. Before the pre-packaged, trendy, gimmick-fueled artists were forced on the masses, Meat Beat Manifesto slowly earned respect within various genres. Born in Swindon, England, Jack Dangers paid his dues by playing in various groups. During the 80’s, Dangers gave the world a very bizarre gift when he started Meat Beat Manifesto. MBM mixed together aggressively thick hip-hop rhythms, rare samples, various psychedelic noises, and energetic rapping. Unlike the typical hip-hop emcee, Jack Dangers did not always rhyme words or use obvious themes. Early songs like, “Genocide” (aka “GOD O.D.”), “Mars Needs Women”, and “Re-Animator” became classics. These tracks displayed how Jack mixed political issues with an abstract wordplay while using the energy of a hardcore hip-hop emcee. The layers of bombastic rhythms earned the group the “industrial music” moniker. Due to the electronic dance elements in their music, some categorized MBM as a rave or electronic group. Jack’s hardcore rhyme style helped to create a signature sound. Even though Jack experimented with a myriad of genres, hip-hop was the foundation of Meat Beat Manifesto. Since they were more than just regular hip-hop, critics also labeled the group as trip-hop. Jack Dangers is also one of the innovative godfathers of drum and bass. Before The Chemical Brothers or U.N.K.L.E., Jack Dangers was creating electronic tribal rhythms.
For two decades, Meat Beat Manifesto has been creating unusual music with bizarre samples and thick grooves. The classic tracks still possess a fresh vibe and enticing sound. Other classic Meat Beat tracks include “Psyche Out”, “Radio Babylon”, “Helter Skelter”, “Hello Teenage America”, and “Circles”. The genre-crossing album, “99%” is a magnificent LP with psychedelic sounds, layered drum patterns, and aggressive rapping. On their follow-up LP, “Satyricon”, Jack Dangers took a melodic approach by singing his vocals. Both albums transcended any kind of lone classification. Other MBM albums include “Subliminal Sandwich”, “Actual Sounds & Voices”, and “RUOK?”. As a solo artist, Jack Dangers also remained extremely creative. He released solo albums titled "Loudness Clarifies/Music From Tapelab" and “Forbidden Planet Explored” (on Important Records). He also produced remixes for legendary artists like David Bowie, Public Enemy, Orbital, The Shamen, David Byrne, MC 900 Ft. Jesus, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and Fun Lovin' Criminals.
Thirsty Ear Records approached Jack Dangers to contribute to their Blue Series collection. DJ Spooky and El-P also contributed to Thirsty Ear’s Blue Series project. Released on Thirsty Ear Records in 2005, “At The Center” is a brilliant collection of unique jazz tracks created with Meat Beat Manifesto’s signature style. The wandering flute melodies and hypnotic bass lines swim within the complicated rhythms. The powerful chemistry between Jack Dangers and the band is showcased within this musical experimentation. The samples and deep rhythms create an updated version of the hip-hop jazz style. “Want Ads” is a wonderfully bizarre track that samples Kenneth Rexroth reading actual want ads during 1957. Other entertaining tracks include “Wild”, “Flute Thing”, and “The Water Margin”. The music from these sessions was so potent that Meat Beat Manifesto released the “Off-Centre” EP on Thirsty Ear Recordings. The EP includes a remix of “Wild”, 2 live tracks, and some brand new songs too.
Throughout the years, Meat Beat Manifesto were categorized as industrial, European hip-hop, electronic, drum & bass, ambient, break beat, techno, and dance music. Although the music of Meat Beat Manifesto defies one category, their evident influences range from indie-pop, hip-hop, jazz, and electronic music. Jack Dangers and Meat Beat Manifesto may not be full appreciated for many years to come. Although every Meat Beat Manifesto LP has a signature style & sound, each album is completely inimitable. For decades, Jack Dangers has pushed the boundaries of technology and musical creativity. If it weren’t for Dangers, Drum & Bass music may have never existed. He was not only the first to do it, he was the first to do it right. Like any other musical pioneer, Meat Beat Manifesto have crossed genres, innovated musical technology, and influenced an infinite amount of musicians. All hail Jack Dangers, the slightly off-centre godfather of electronic hip-hop!
MVRemix: I had a rough morning with my grandmother. She has osteoporosis. I heard you have a physical ailment.
Jack Dangers: That’s a shame. I suffer from really bad arthritis. I’ve got this form. It’s like one step away from Rheumatoid. I have to inject this stuff in me every week or twice or week. It’s this stuff called Embro, this new drug. Before that, I was pretty depressed. After they broke the human genome, they came out with these arthritis drugs.
MVRemix: Are you a supporter of stem cell research?
Jack Dangers: I am, yeah, completely.
MVRemix: Well, I’ve been a fan since ‘Armed Audio Warfare’ and ‘Storm The Studio’. I actually saw Meat Beat perform live when you opened up for Nine Inch Nails at City Gardens (which was in Trenton, NJ). I also saw you guys, when Consolidated opened up for you, around the time that ‘99%’ was released. You know, I could have sworn you did the ‘Psyche Out’ remix live, but everyone else told me you did not do that song.
Jack Dangers: Wow! I don’t even remember. It’s possible that we did a version that was similar. All the live versions sound different than the ones that were released. It probably was a version in-between the remix and the original. So, you’re from Jersey? Is that club City Gardens still there?
MVRemix: Nah, that piece of crap club is gone.
Jack Dangers: We played there a bunch of times.
MVRemix: You played bass on The Wolfgang Press song ‘Christianity (remix)’ too.
Jack Dangers: That’s right. The very first gig I ever did in London was with The Wolfgang Press. I was in a band called Perennial Divide before Meat Beat. That was in 1985 or 86. Our very first London show in 1986 was with The Wolfgang Press. They used to be Rema Rema.
MVRemix: Mick Allen is now in a new group called Geniuser. They have a brilliant new album called ‘Mud Black’.
Jack Dangers: Oh, I didn’t know that. I’ll have to check that out.