Stevie Hyper D
Throughout history the music game has provided us with great artists, pioneer artists, those whose innovative styles and rebellious ambition to test the stereotype have pushed their music to new levels. On the tenth anniversary of his death Big Smoke caught up with the biggest fans of one such artist, nephew Daryl Hyper D and Bionic (London Posse) to talk about the Original Junglist soldier and the Legacy he created.
Stevie was a West London kid listening to Jamaican Ragga with a deep routed passion for emceeing. His greatest loves where Hip Hop and Reggae which along with his heavy West Indies roots gave birth to his innovative style setting him apart from mc’s popular at the time ‘he would come with a structure, chorus, verse much like a rapper would’. Daryl recollects. But instead of pursuing a Hip Hop angle he saw an opportunity to do something different in the acid house/ hardcore scene that was dominating the summers of 88/89 ‘Stevie was about bubbling, he would hold a rave for 5 hours whilst other mc’s would have an hour set and pass the mic. The first time I heard Roots Manuva’s ‘Run Come Save Me’ was how Stevie made me feel. That feeing you get from a great artist.’In the early days Daryl Hyper D and the rest of Stevie’s entourage would hustle Stevie to the stage, making sure he got the mic. Daryl remembers the early struggle ‘we would have those big raves, Fantasy, Peace-Fest, Stevie was up and coming. If you turned up they’d give you 75 quid, but we had to get to Milton Keynes, Luton or Birmingham. So we used to all chip in and get a mini bus. For 2 years Stevie was doing that and we were behind him we were nobodies. We had to go hustle the mic of these guys who we all new Stevie was 10 times better then.’
‘The type of person he was and that, didn’t go with that image, he was just too real.’ Bionic remembering their first meeting outside the Lazzer Drum, Peckham in 94 ‘ My bredrin took we to one rave, there were bare gals, and every girl was like Stevie Hyper D! Stevie hyper D! I heard the name but didn’t know who he was. Girls were all over him. Stevie was like ‘Yo, Bionic man I used to listen to your music’ and all the girls were like who’s Bionic?’ He grins ‘We got all the girls in the car and went to his show in Tottenham. On the way he was telling me how the DJ’s have got it and MC’s just bust’ Bionic and Stevie quickly found common ground.
‘Hip Hop is lyrically based.’ adds Bionic. ‘And most of the DnB DJ’s in the scene didn’t ever want DnB to be like Hip Hop. They didn’t want to be the little DJ in the background that everybody didn’t give a fuck about.’His ability to hold his own as an MC in a scene dominated by the DJ saw him team up with the established Nicky Blackmarket, a partnership that broke new ground.
‘He knew to make money, to be recognized worldwide you had to cross that barrier, had to do something that’s not the norm. Something that’s not UK Hip Hop, not Jungle.’
Stevie had come along way from his days as a teen splitting over 12 inch ragee rhythms with his ‘5 man army’ crew. At the time of Stevie’s death, he was working twice as much. Signed to Island records he was working on a new album ‘Next Step’ by Different Levels. It seemed the best was only yet to come. But unfortunately on the 5th of July 1998 music lost one of its greatest performers. Stevie Hyper D died of a heart attack with a history of heart problems running in the family. There was a lot of mystery associated with his death, Daryl explains ‘I like the mystery surrounding his death, there’s
After smashing a massive rave in Canada with Nicky Blackmarket and Kenny Ken within that week he had been complaining of chest pains. But he was like na man its indigestion. He was worried of course but thought it was a consequence of traveling too much, parties and rich living. His death was a wake up call for a lot of the people in the industry who lived the lifestyle’‘On a Thursday or Friday he did a massive rave, one nation or something, he went home with his girl and that’s when I got the call that Stevie was in hospital. No one new what had happened. Stevie was always a joker. I thought he was winding me up. He was more like my brother then my uncle, who took me to my first rave. I couldn’t accept it, he was only 32.’
The scene stopped and paid tribute to a fallen soldier with two raves at the End and Camden Palace with everyone you can name in Drum n Bass wanting to pay homage. Shortly followed the release of ‘Legend’ with all profits going to Stevie’s mum Aida.
‘The rave was packed’ Bionic remembers ‘I was so hurt that day, I felt it when they started rinsing his tunes, that was a love thing. That was huge. For the next year, bare times I thought I’d seen Stevie, you couldn’t accept it. We said we were gonna make a group, He new we were gonna bang up the world and then he died. That crushed man. For so many years people have tried to bring me back to music. So when he died that’s when I knew I had to come out of the music completely.’
It took Stevie 4 years with Nicky Blackmarket before he got his first MC award in 1997. In 2007 the Drum N Bass scene presented Daryl with the Stevie Hyper D Memorial award, for his lifetime achievement to the cores ‘when my man Stevie picked up his award in 97 it was one category, best MC, now there are 8 categories for MC. I couldn’t believe it. The MC in the DnB had now got his props.’
On the Ten year anniversary of his death Daryl Hyper D has started ‘Generation Hyper’, a project that stems from a new generation raised on Stevie Hyper D which will include rare releases, remixes and a documentary narrated by Bionic.
‘When Stevie died a lot of people said DnB was dead’ Daryl explains ‘its about ten years later, seeing how music has progressed from Stevie, my man innovated something, he’s not here to see it but he took all the elements of what urban music was, found a template to relay it on and smash it with. What Stevie did was install something bigger then Drum n Bass. He put in place a format that no one has yet been able to recreate.’
" right about now I did it my way, in da place, in da place, move your body to da drum and da bass, cause stevie hyper's right now on the case" - Stevie Hyper D