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Urban Species

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Since their formation in Tottenham, London, England, in the late 80s, Urban Species were widely tipped as the next potential breakthrough in UK hip-hop. They originally comprised lead rapper Mint (b. Peter Akinrinola) and DJ Renegade (b. Winston Small), whose partnership principally involved messing about in their north London bedrooms, since when they have added the services of toaster Slim (b. Rodney Green). The trio started to produce small runs of white labels, distributing them under the names of either Mint or Renegade. This earned them a reputation among both the pirate radio stations and clubs, where they would be invited to appear. Even the hip New York stations Kiss and WBLS picked up on one of their tracks, ‘It’s My Thing’, but they were hamstrung by finances and unable to capitalize. Their next cut, ‘Got To Have It’, was the one that brought them to the attention of Talkin’ Loud Records boss Gilles Peterson. By 1991 he had their signatures. Their eclectic blend of ragga, dub, and even acoustic folk rumblings saw them placed in several musical categories, from soul to rap and jazz fusion, and comparisons to Arrested Development arose. Their second single as Urban Species, ‘Listen’, shared its title with their first LP, and featured ‘fourth’ member Lynette Bracewaite, alongside live guest musicians such as Galliano and Incognito. Guest vocalists have also included MC Solaar (a fellow-traveller on the Talkin’ Loud roster), Imogen Heap, and Maysa Leak, and Urban Species have built their reputation as much on the back of impressive live appearances as much as their studio touch. Blanket finally appeared at the start of 1999, and featured guest vocals from US funk/soul artist Terry Callier.