Another quick little list thing for FACT’s Essential series. This time the focus is on Hudson Mohawke, who in the space of a decade went from underground hero to touring artist and in-house producer for Kanye West.
As I argue in the book, Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke are – whether they want to or not – the two figureheads of the beat scene, the names people have continuously looked up to since their rise to fame in the late 2000s. And interestingly they’ve taken different paths but achieved similar results: that is becoming part of the fabric of modern day hip-hop and electronic music, quiet influencers that others look to for a fresh take on stale ideas.
In the case of Glasgow’s finest, it’s particularly interesting to me how he parlayed his underground fame for what can easily be seen as a more traditional producer role in the hip-hop industry, while retaining his own solo career. He is towing a line between different meanings of the producer, something not many have done.
As always with the Essential lists, the selections are deeply personal and I tried to show how over the course of ten odd years Hud Mo has refined his sound towards a pop sensibility that is still paying off.
Ross Birchard, aka Hudson Mohawke, emerged from the Scottish underground in the 2000s and quietly took over hip-hop in the space of a decade, adding weight to Rakim’s adage that “it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.” In 2003, as DJ Itchy, he became the youngest ever turntablist to reach the DMC UK finals; two years later he released his first forays into hip-hop as part of Surface Empire alongside Dom Sum and as Heralds of Change with Mike Slott. The string of EPs the Heralds released on Dublin’s All City imprint between 2005 and 2007 were ahead of their time – five years later, their take on hip-hop was a mainstream concern.