More often than not, if you mention the group The Sindecut to a UK hip-hop head you’ll get a blank look in response. Despite regularly rubbing shoulders with more well known groups such as Soul II Soul, Massive Attack (more on them next month) and Dodge City Productions at venues like the Africa Centre in Covent Garden in the 80’s and 90’s, Sindecut have never quite seen the same level of recognition. Alongside those other acts, they helped push a more soul infused version of UK hip-hop, that separated them from the more electro, and later Britcore, focused performers that seemed to dominate the pirate airwaves. The fact that, unlike many of their soul based hip-hop peers, they chose not to go down the chart friendly route releases perhaps gives some answers as to why they do not have the same level of recognition. Nevertheless, the group should not be dismissed and helped leave a mark on hip-hop in the UK that shouldn’t be ignored.
The group were formed in North London as a collective of rappers and DJs, primarily focusing around MC Crazy Noddy and the excellent DJ Fingers, but also at various times consisting of the likes of Lyn E Lyn, DJ Don’t Ramp, Mix Man G, Mad P, Spikey Tee and Louise Francis. They spent their early period performing at the Swiss Cottage Community Centre and the surrounding area before releasing an eponymous debut single in 1986, which made a few waves in the London underground scene. Buoyed by this, the group went to America in search of a deal and almost secured one with B-Boy Records, whose roster included Boogie Down Productions, had it not been for the imprisonment of label boss Bill Kamara and its subsequent collapse. Having had this set back, the group formed their own label Junglelist, not to be confused with jungle music that came later, and released the track “Posse” that fused ragga vocals with hip-hop breaks.
It wouldn’t be until the group signed with independent label Baad Records in 1987 that they began to gain significant recognition among hip-hop fans. This would start with the single “Sindecut Kickin’ Yeah” that got the attention of radio stations and club DJs and would continue with the classic “Can’t Get Enough (Of Who?)”. Both of these songs solidified the group’s sound as a fusion of reggae and soul mixed with hip-hop, which proved to be a popular combination. In particular, support from stations like Capitol Radio would lead to the group signing a six figure record deal with Virgin Records, making them one of only a handful of UK hip-hop acts to be signed to a major label in 1990.
It would be on Virgin where they would release their debut, and only, album “Changing the Scenery” the same year they signed. Although not hugely commercially successful, the album and the subsequent singles that came off it in “Live the Life” and “Tell Me Why” are very much considered staples of hip-hop of that time. However, as is the common story for many groups in the early 1990s, disappointing sales that didn’t match the buzz for American hip-hop and waning interest from labels that saw hip-hop as a passing fad meant that Sindecut disappeared from the scene a few years later. Their final release would be in 1993 with the single “Melody”.
DJ Fingers and Spikey T would continue to work in music, with Fingers specialising in remixes, often under his own name or The Sindecut, and Spikey T would go on to provide vocals for a variety of artists including Jah Wobble, Bomb the Bass and Morcheeba. The Sindecut would actually reappear as a group in 2004 and have since released three singles, the most recent appearing in 2016 as a collaboration with singer Ijeoma in 2016.