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Marc Mac of 4Hero fame has changed tack and released his second hip hop laced album under the alias Visioneers, following on from the BBE promoted Dirty Old Hip Hop in 2006. Hipology, which hit the shops on June 11, is more than just a record, though, as it is the name of the Dollis Hill-born producer's website which celebrates his roots and culture.
Mixmag caught up with Marc Mac to discuss Hipology, a carefully considered melange of jazzy hip hop beats fused with subzero funk and soul, uniquely blended and enriched by guest vocals from the likes of John Robinson, Notes To Self and TRAC & Baron. They feature alongside musicians Luke Parkhouse, Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra and The Support Horn.
What does Hipology mean to you?
The music, the fashion and culture. Although producing all kinds of music from jungle to jazz, hip-hop - or at least what it was - has always been a part of what I do in some strange and sometimes very subtle way. Even though we went through a really hardcore stage and we were making some proper dark drum and bass and all sorts of things, both me and Dego [the other producer behind 4Hero, Dennis McFarlane], our heart was always close to the soul vibe having grown up in north west London. We have always been real soul heads at our core.That kind of mellow vibe has always been there. When we were doing our hardcore rave stuff was more out of our box. It’s good to kind of come back, and do the full circle, and play a sound that we were brought up on.
When - and why - did you create the website?
I started up the website about six months ago and I just started jotting down some ideas together. While I was looking for a front cover for the album, I started looking at all of my old pictures and then thought that it would be good to publish them as a kind of scrapbook. I knew that I wanted to document this sort of stuff. Throughout my life this has been the kind of stuff I have always been in to. And it is not just about the music - I see an old album and I try and think about what games console was I playing at that time, what clothes was I wearing, and stuff like that. It all connects together in some kind of strange way. The whole Hipology comes from that idea. The website helps tell more of the story, because it could have easily been lost in the translation if people thought it was just an album.
How did your guise as Visioneers come about?
It was about 2006 when BBE approached me saying that they wanted to sign me for the Visioneers project. I was just dropping limited edition 7”s which were on the J Dilla vibe, and they caught on to what I was doing. I did another eight tracks to make up the album Dirty Old Hip Hop. Dirty Old Hip-Hop went really well, and I think what I like about it is that people get it now, today. They understand it and appreciate the sounds and it still sense to them; they can get in to it. They are not the usual records you would hear now, and that’s I think what makes the tunes good to hear for those who are looking for this. That was one of the reasons - the appreciation and interest on the first Visioneers project - that I got so excited about doing this follow up, and developing those ideas. I knew after how will the first album had gone down that this has some good longevity to it. I took my time producing Hipology - I’m never going to make an A&R man happy! I never rush making my music. Whatever happens needs time to grow. I don’t think that the record has to be completed in two weeks, or whatever. It happens when it happens. So the album did take a while. I had a lot of time to think about it, and there was a lot of listening to the tracks over and over again, tweaking, moving and shifting something.
What does this album say about the current state of hip hop?
It’s like taking Mr Kirk's Nightmare, a mid-nineties, early 4Hero tracks, and trying to play it in a metal head rave now. People will stop still, look at you and think: “What the hell are you doing?” They won’t get the timeline. In the same way I think Hipology is a crazy kind of hip hop album, as it has elements of a time before. I could put a hip hop tag on it, but if you went to a kid now who was in to hip hop, in inverted commas, he would probably say: “What is this?!” But I have always done that kind of thing, and those kind of gambles. You just have to do what you feel is right and that is the only way you can enjoy and keep on making music for so long.