MINK-C “IGNUNTOLOGY” ALBUM LAUNCH
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MINK-C is a Welsh MC, born in Newport, South Wales in the ‘early 70s’. Based now in the East Midlands his Welsh roots are still strong and this has been evident in the increasing number of Welsh themes within his lyrics.
Following a successful online audio battle career in the early 2000’s and the release of four albums between 2002-2006, plus a (therapeutically dope) post-divorce album in 2016, he returns to guide us into 2023 with his sixth, self produced, full length LP ‘IGNUNTOLOGY’.
Style-wise, Mink-C leans towards the early 90s, tending to favour 70s funk, jazz or soul samples coupled with boom-bap style live drum breaks and brings a lyrical style that retains some of the extremes and misogony of that era, but all done with a cheeky wink of an eye…. Delivery-wise, his avoidance of cliched ‘thames estuary’ accent can be a surprise to some and take a little adjusting to, but is always worth the effort. Lyrically, he uses a wide vocabulary and doesn’t shy away from obscure references or archaic turns of phrase which keep the rhymes interesting.
MINK-C is a Welsh MC, born in Newport, South Wales in the ‘early 70s’. Based now in the East Midlands after moving with family at at early age to Yorkshire, he has always cherished his Welsh roots and this has been evident in the increasing number of Welsh themes within his lyrics.
During the late 80s, his punk-rock teenage years were, like many, disrupted by the start of the golden age of Hip-Hop. From crude sampling and mimicking breakthrough artists, through to the internet age where organised battle tournaments would be run on a near constant basis, Mink slowly developed his own style – ignoring the temptation to affect a south-eastern pseudo-cockney twang like many peers, he refined and tweaked his delivery and flow and whilst It took time to finally find his voice but once found, things seemed unstoppable….
During 2002-2005, Mink won and successfully defended the HHC (Hip-Hop Central) prestigious ‘Best of the Best’ Audio tournament and developed a feared reputation for an audio battler across multiple sites. He had offers of UK nightclub appearances, spots on East European compilation albums and rotation on US college radio. During this period, he released four independently released album/mixtapes – ‘The Prime Minkster’, ‘Prince of Wales’, ‘British Shit Kicker’ and ‘The Blue Oval Sessions’
Following HHC’s shutdown in 2006 Mink went on an indefinite hiatus until in 2015, following a marriage breakup, and after a number of pleas for new material from fans of his older stuff, he released his first new material for ten years in the shape of ‘Welsh Ninjitsu’. In 2020, Mink founded ‘Smells Funky Records’ and with a real distributor on board, re-released the album to all streaming sites.
Now, in 2023, things don’t look like stopping. As well as the release of his two-years-in-the-making sixth album ‘Ignuntology’ a few months ago – his first fully self-produced – the ‘Smells Funky’ roster is gearing up for Mink-produced releases by HHC alumni Fumo, Higgies Balls, and a long overdue album by his group (with long time friend Lionel-Beeee) ‘Black Gestapo’ as well as a third instrumental based album by the Instrumental-focused ‘Pueblo Negra’.
To summarise Mink-C’s style is tricky as it doesn’t fit comfortably into any current sub-genre but spans several. Music-wise his sound leans towards the early 90s, tending to favour 70s funk, jazz or soul samples, live drum breaks and with a lyrical style that can retain some of the extremes and misogony of that era, but is all done with a sly wink of an eye…. Delivery-wise, his avoidance of cliched ‘thames estuary’ accent can be a surprise to some and take a little adjusting to, but is always worth the effort. Lyrically, he uses a wide vocabulary and peppers tracks with rarely-heard references which keep the rhymes interesting. Whilst his tongue-in-cheek approach shows that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, he does take the art form and legacy of hip-hop extremely frequently railing against some of the controversial modern trends such as mumble rapping, move away from sampling and profit-driven elements of the industry
Favourite all-time and current Hip-Hop Artist(s)?
All time is Big Daddy Kane, these days love Madchild, Atmosphere (Slug), Rugged Man. Mac Lethal. Also love British artists from back in the day like Hijack, Blade, Overlord X, Blak Twang, Roots Manuva to name a few. Talking of Hijack, have you seen the sheer quantity of Kamanchi Sly’s work in recent years? Its nuts and puts me to shame
What or whom drives you to create music?
My hip-hop partner and friend since school, Lionel-Beee – he is my muse, and keeps me fresh and motivated. If not recording joints with him, he is making suggestions or helping me edit or mix. It may sound like a cliche but without Lionel, there is no Mink-C.
Origins of name?
It was back in 92 and it was from a character called Mink in a Steven Segal film.The ‘C’ could have meant a number of things but was arbitrary really as it’s real reason was to spell ‘MC’ as initials. Lionel took his name after I’d heard a DJ on Nottinghams Heatwave pirate radio dedicate a song to ‘the man like Lionel Richie up in Sneinton’. I said he should be the man like Lionel Blair, which led to the name. Random I know! Thanks Mr Richie from Sneinton…
Who would you say your music appeals to?
Well I have a habit of using references which only people of a certain vintage will get, so I do tend to think it would appeal to older British hip-hop peeps mostly, although I would love the younger generation to google whatever they don’t know and come along for the ride and anyone else for that matter! If you like a bit of funky hip-hop with outrageous bragging and a fair few funny moments then I think you would like my stuff. You can always check out my older stuff for free on bandcamp too, so no financial risk if you don’t feel it!
How did it feel taking charge of all production duties for the first time?
I have been working on beats for a few years via some other projects but applying these skills to a Mink-C album was still daunting, given how great the producers i’ve worked with before were. A very high bar. Ultimately I learned a shitload more, especially learning when to pair things down and just go simple for maximum effect in other words Less is More – it’s so true. In my last few albums, my go-to producer is a guy called Ace List who I have upmost respect for….he gives me something to aim for in terms of quality beats, and part of me felt guilty not taking some beats off him this time but I’m sure he understands! I’m currently working on the production for Fumo’s album which will have a more cinematic sound and a need for a shift in tone given the subject matter is more dark and serious than my own joints so the learning doesn’t stop. The biggest impact was the time it takes to make a song when you have to worry about the music as well as the lyrics – but that will improve with workflow. The single hardest thing in the production field I find is still the mixing and mastering stage, always seems to drain the last bit of energy and take forever even if the result is worth it in the end! The production side is definitely the area I will lean most into over coming years, but I’m not hanging the mic up just yet….
Still working with HHC MCs – how did that come about?
Most hip-hop websites were shit back then, really busy but full of arguments and trolling. HHC was smaller, run by a dutch guy called Reflex and had a vibrant mix of young MCs who seemed to care passionately about the music and doing things the right way. I was an old fart back then compared to some of the kids who were barely school leavers but connections are powerful and around the start of the COVID thing, I reconnected with Fumo who lives fairly close to me and started talking about me producing his album, and then Higgies-Balls, a Canadian now living in the US, who I was always a fan of as he seemed to ‘get’ old school hip-hop despite not being from that era, was happy to jump on the album and we are looking to doing something soon too. There’s still a few guys I’d love to work with, but tracking some people down can be challenging but watch this space. If the legacy of HHC is a continued music relationship between artists of the same mind, then thats all good.
Do you miss the audio battles from back then?
Only from the pressure to create on a weekly basis which stopped me getting lazy! Look I loved audio battles, I loved doing my research, finding an angle, picking the beat, all of it. But while I’d never rule out another battle if it came up, it’s all about the albums now. Back then the audio battles were like beef tracks really and thats why it suited me. I’d never be a freestyle battle MC, just not my style. I love writing and crafting tracks, compiling bodies of work and more recently enjoy producing other peoples tracks too. It did give me a grounding if any beef does kick off though…
An album every 5 years, will that continue?
No. I’m in the groove properly now, and although I have other projects running I want to get more into more frequent cycle as believe it or not I have plenty left in the tank
Do you really care about having no success?
Define success? I have always said that if one person discovers my music and it makes their day brighter then I will consider that success. I’m too old to be a widespread phenomenon but I’m at peace with that. I still love hip-hop and see no reason why artists can’t keep making music into old age now. It irritates me when a quality MC loses a record deal and then ‘retires’, I get that for some people it pays the bills and some will genuinely fall out of love with the music or use their energy in other ways within hip-hop which is fine, but I don’t get the hanging up of the mic just through lack of a deal – with technology these days there is always some way to bring your art to the people, even if done as a work of passion not profit. Everyone can leave a legacy in this game, and when you take the pressure to adhere to trends out of the equation, people can make the sort of music that they love listening to themselves and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
So a rapper with Newport origins and a sense of humour. Comparison to GLC are bound to be made. Fair?
Look I love GLC and have followed them since the start, but without sounding pompous, they have always played the parody card and put the humour first and foremost since Day 1. I share in much of the humour but see it more of a by-product with my stuff. Despite all the tracksuits and fake chains, the guys in GLC love hip-hop and thats where we are aligned. It would be fun to collaborate one day, but I’m happy coming at things from a slightly different direction too.
IGNUNTOLOGY – ALBUM NOTES
- The album took just short of 2 years to make, first recording sessions in September 2020 with final recording in August 2022
- Originally, it was supposed to be an ‘anti-concept’ concept album, in that it would contain wall to wall punchlines with zero message or theme throughout. The length of time to create the album meant certain subjects crept in sadly. Not too many though…
- Six singles have been featured on the album. Four singles were released prior to the LP release – ‘Fat Welsh Weirdo’, ‘Art of Seduction’ (inc radio version), ‘Stronger’ and ‘No Dragon’. The singles ’98 Chepstow Road’ and ‘Taffy’s Theme’ were released on the same day in time for Christmas with the Radio version of ’98’ released in Jan 2023.
- This is the first Mink-C album to be professionally released from day 1 with distribution to all streaming sites/online stores.
- This is the first Mink-C album to be fully self produced
- This is the third Mink-C album to feature Higgies Balls
- ‘IGNUNTOLOGY’ comes in at 62 minutes. Mink has indicated he will focus on shorter, more regular releases in the future, as this seems to suit the shift in listening habits and also means more frequent releases can be achieved.
- Whilst always mentioning his welsh roots, previous albums have been more East-Midlands-centric and heavy on the ‘British’ theme. This album only mentions the word ‘British’ twice, once in reference to a previous album (British Shit Kicker) and once in the opening line of the LP where he states that he is ashamed of being British since Brexit.
- Mink explains that his Welsh Nationalist viewpoint actually came about from researching for the album and realising ‘”How little I knew’ about welsh history and how genuinely angry I became when I learnt more”
When, pre-Covid, I embarked on the journey to make this album I was very clear that it was going to be an album with no discernible message but would be packed with memorable rhymes – an anti-concept concept album if you will! It was only supposed to be a six month project and ‘Ignuntology’ was up and running.
Unfortunately things took way longer (4x longer), in part because this was also going to be the first album where I self-produced and it took a while for my workflow to become optimised, but also because we had a global pandemic and other life-things kept getting in the way, including job changes. Also my anti-concept-concept works best if carried out over a short span of time, as otherwise the temptation to write songs with a theme or message is too great and whilst the ‘ignunt’ theme still underpins much of the album, there is also a pro-welsh, anti-mumble theme that spans a number of tracks.
As there are a few songs that may make little sense out of context, I felt it a good idea to walk you through the album track by track. So, here we go with Track 1 :
‘Best You Never Heard Of’ I always think the opening song has to set the tone for an album, whether it’s a skit, a full song or something else and given many wouldn’t know me this time, I felt an introduction was in order. I’d done a short opener way back on the ‘Prime Minkster’ album so wanted something similar in pace, and lyrically wanted to cover ground that would be seen as typical – so some obscure references, bragging, over-the-top sexual conquests and some stuff about my general outlook regarding ‘success’. I wanted it to have a mellow funky lounge feel to it but the beat had to be simple and not overbearing. I was happy with the first cut but the track really came to life when the live bass was added. Hopefully the track gives some colour which will prompt listeners to stay with me for the rest of the record.
‘Fat Welsh Weirdo’ is trying to illustrate how ridiculous casual racism is. I talk about the Welsh and it seems ridiculous, but you could talk about any demographic that does encounter extreme prejudice on a daily basis and it’s way more real but no less ridiculous. Thankfully, aside from the casual racist comments from the odd person, prejudice towards the Welsh is nothing to do with the English public, but instead is driven by repressive policy over centuries from the UK Government, but I cover that later
This was a track where the beat came first, and I had an idea for how the song should sound very early but stalled a bit on the lyrics. The theme of an expat Welshman being abused racially over the border in England ended up fitting perfectly but it’s not totally original as it’s an extension of a few lines on my last album on the track ‘Back Again’
"Yeah! you know my name but to a devil, I guess us Welsh all look the same Racist motherfuckers, just some shit I've got to deal with Welsh rugby shirt in the store they think i'm stealing"
Originally, the skit at the start went on for about two minutes including a monologue about how folk don’t like the welsh with their ‘ethnic flair’ moving in and how before long everyone will be buying nothing but leeks at the supermarket, but I had to cut it down to a shorter form. The song was penciled in for the tail end of the album, but after playing it to a few cats it became clear people were feeling it, so made it the lead single. Oh and the last little monologue is lifted almost verbatim from a talking-head in a TV documentary about Mexican immigration to the US I saw, but swapping in Welsh names!
‘Like Shakespeare and Shit’ This was one of the last songs recorded and is one of my favourite joints. As I often throw complex or more dense live drums in tracks I wanted something funky, but minimalistic and hard hitting. The verses were quick to form – The hook took a bit longer but I threw a few ideas around with Lionel and came up with some lines that drove the main punchline nicely, albeit including names not normally heard in hip-hop! The intro was a snippet of one of my favourite radio DJs from Radio Wales (Eleri Sion) with the most gorgeous accent, talking to a caller following a Wales football match
‘Art of Seduction’ is a bit of a bonkers track, but thematically it’s about extreme sex being normalised (again, taking things to an absurd extreme) due to cultural changes:
"It's not all that different - used to kiss in lovers lane now it's cocaine and yellow-rain on ladies wrapped in cellophane In the 80s used to slow dance, 90s shake synthetic implants to trance Nowadays we fuck each other up and call an ambulance"
The sung ‘thats lovemaking’ hook worked so well over a live drum sample and was very much a case of the rest of the track being built around it. I actually recorded a ‘radio version’ of this track with in parts substantially different lyrics and an ending which I actually prefer but this is the original in all it’s vulgar beauty…..In many ways, it’s probably the best on the album – there are lots of things going on more than may at first be apparent, and like ‘Fat Welsh Weirdo’ it turned out far better than I originally expected.
‘No Dragon’ was a concept I had early on, with the hook pretty much written in my head, and the verse coming much later – which may explain the fact that one has very little to do with the other! Now aside from the hook being out of date since the queen passed – bad timing – this is just one of my ridiculous origin stories (i have a few if you check my old albums on bandcamp), this time I’m a supernaturally powerful toddler raised by psychopathic parents to be dispatched to England as a ‘welsh killing machine’ all the while, dreaming of rhyme writing and not murder. The thunderstorm bit is actually true by the way, according to my mum! Beat wise, this is super simple with the cinematic sample layered onto the beat and very little variation happening throughout the track. I think the steadiness of the beat helps given the mayhem that is coming up…
‘Ignunt MC‘ I wanted a centrepiece ‘title track’ which felt epic whilst conveying zero message, and I’d written this song very early on. I’d gone with 32 bar verses, over 100 bars in total including two hooks with shit-loads of scratching. The problem was, the beat I initially used couldn’t pass any copyright scrutiny as it had all manner of samples from Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’ in it, so I re-worked the beat and re-recorded but eventually didn’t like the beat which had somehow now been devoid of any ‘funk’, so I re-worked the beat yet again and re-recorded yet again – which in a 100+bar 6+ minute joint gets old quickly. I was now broadly happy with the beat but not the vocals, so as recording for the album drew to a close and with Lionels insistence I recorded yet again and this time it had way more energy which had been missing overall, then I contrasted the previous song’s lack of variation by having all sorts of things going on here – dropped beats, beat changes, introduction of extra sample layers as the track progresses, pitched down vocals, hand clap and finger-click segments and as almost the last thing done before release, the track turned from a good, but long-assed behemoth in the middle of the album, to an energetic, shape-shifting ride which is befitting of a title track. Phew!
‘Here to Whoop Ass’ Started as a reunion joint with Higgies, who has appeared a couple of times before years ago, but managed to get Lionel on the joint which is brilliant and it means three nice style changes in the track and no phoning in the verses – Higgies bringing classic Higgies style with some risk-taking lyrics, and Lionel doing his thing under his ‘chain snatcher’ thieving persona with nice clear delivery.
‘Crotch Hunters’ I’m producing Fumo’s upcoming album so a guest spot was always on the cards and the original plan was a point/counterpoint back-and-forth argument between conscious vs ignunt rhymes. At the time we needed to do this, the original idea was going to prove a bit troublesome to record so we plumped for a simple two-verse affair, but I wanted Fumes to push his ignunt boundaries which he delivered with his clever word-play and I then followed with my verse, keeping the end rhyming word on each line from Fumo’s verse making sure to avoid repetition. Fumo came up with the title and despite my attempt to completely change the beat mid-project, we elected to keep the west-coast feeling groove which was probably the right idea. Only other thing to say here is that I was desperate to have at least one song with faded out rather than finishing abruptly, and this ended up being ‘the one’!
‘Taffys Lament’ The joke being that it isn’t in the slightest bit a ‘lament’. One of the earliest new tracks and completed super-fast, utilising a hook sample from ‘The Doo Wop’ joint where I reimagined LL’s joint (see ‘Man of Gwent’ collection on Bandcamp), the main part of the beat having been something I’d played with quite a while ago with minimal changes and the song benefiting from not having a bass-line which makes mixing easier. The actress who does the ‘patronising English school teacher’ thing at the beginning nailed it, so brought her back for ‘Taffy theme’.
‘Stronger’ started life as a submission for a beat-battle on StonesThrow a few years back, and in this form had many lyrics changed, an entire new verse, some Lionel backing vocals plus a secondary sub-song at the end. Most of the new lyrics are anti-mumble rap and although I’d originally seen this as a lead off single, it ended up being the third. Musically it’s probably the most straight hip-hop song on here but I wrestled with it’s inclusion as there were two other similar era tracks I was going to re-work for this release – ‘Hadron Collider’ and ‘Kickstarter’ – but in reality I had so much new stuff, the motivation to change a song I’d played to death previously was comparatively low. ‘Hadron’ ended up on the ‘Man of Gwent’ compilation and ‘Kickstarter’ was released as the b-side to the ‘No Dragon’ single. Both I struggled to exclude as they are both great joints but ultimately they lost out whilst ‘Stronger’ was saved by being the most complete already-reworked joint of the three. I hate leaving anything of value off, but I was already pushing the limit of album length as it was.
‘Taffys theme’ Another appearance by Jane as the patronising teacher. Ignoring the intro to this that asks you to believe that a fully grown adult-sounding ‘Taffy’ is part of this primary-school class, I wanted a version of the ‘Taffy was a welshman’ nursery rhyme to be recited at the start to add context to people who may not be familiar with it. The main song lists facts from welsh history, calls out people who have gone public with anti-welsh sentiment in the past and imagining a “not taking shit” response to future unwelcome events. Clearly it’s the most nationalistic song ,but I’ll be honest when I did the reading into the facts I was getting angrier and angrier as examples of increasing English control and policy designed to keep the welsh contained are littered throughout the years. I’m sure many are similarly ‘ignunt’ to the history which I hope changes. It certainly changed my views and outlook on potential future independence. For all the nationalistic bravado, the last line indicates that any bravado may be futile which is the saddest part of the history – we historically complain but ultimately conform. This is my little contribution to avoiding that happening, anyway!
‘Ain’t Nothing Profound’ Traditionally, the final third of my albums are where anything a bit more unusual, experimental or complex would go, but the way this album developed, it simply isn’t the case this time. Any one of these closeout tracks could have been the first three songs – they are that solid. Starting with this romp of randomness from myself and Higgies that very nearly became the 5th single to coincide with the album launch. Mixed with Lionel’s assistance which is where the switch to joining the verses up came and brought the running time down to sensible levels, and where the intro skit was born to provide some light relief after the previous joints. The only other tidbits here is that the hook was used just as a rough guide to be re-worked or having both MCs layered on it, but ended up unchanged in the end and both mine and Higgies use a couple of similar references in different ways despite being written independently.
‘Play the Percentages’ Not too many story joints on this album but this one is a 3 story rhyme where the protagonist applies overly fast judgements due to one fact outweighing everything else he is told, but gets a taste of his own medicine at the end. I won’t spoil it by saying much more but it was important that whilst the hook uses the C word repeatedly, the verses remain cuss-word free to increase the harshness of the conclusion being drawn. Simple funk break beat underpins the joint and one of my personal favourites.
’98 Chepstow Road’ is a love letter to my grandparents old house and Newport generally. It felt strange at first using the actual address in the song as I was mindful of current residents, but seeing as the house is now split into flats I don’t think they will be too bothered. I adored the place as a kid, as I did the whole city and I know we apply rose-coloured glasses to things personal to us but why not? I still love Newport despite not getting down there as much as I’d like, and I without fail get misty eyed whenever I pass through Maindee, which probably sounds crazy to people who don’t have the emotional connection to the place. Lyric wise initially there was an extra verse which made the song feel too indulgent time wise, so I trimmed it down a little, and musically I wanted this to feel a little different from the rest of the album, whilst still having funk flourishes to it. The reggae-ish guitar chords are somehow a sound which takes me back there and like ‘Ignunt MC’ I ended up re-recording the vocals to this quite late on to add a bit more energy. Love 98.
‘Now You Know’ This is a joint which went through the most re-records, beat changes and titles on the album. It started off as a song called ‘Causasoid Killswitch’ and had some strange alien-invasion backstory in the hook and a space age beat, which pre-dated the decision to lean heavily on funk across the album. Eventually it morphed into this, and was paired with a traditional boom-bap style driving beat which I wanted to finish the album with. It also calls back a little to the opening track, so going from ‘best you never heard of’ to ‘now you know’ after digesting the album in full. The hook took a while to work out but I’d just bought a talkbox and found it trickier to use than I expected, so could only clearly enunciate certain words on it initially with ‘Volvo’ being one of them, so I’m not making any specific reference to someone on the hook, and I love Volvo’s as it happens, but it could pertain to my core audience being middle-aged….. For all the chopping and changing with this, the actual rhymes across the verses barely changed at all. Quite how it managed to avoid the grip of my perfectionist OCD I’ll never know! Toyed with finishing with a skit, a message or some sort of shout-outs but decided to finish cleanly, just as it started.
Overall given the time it took to make, and having to worry about all the music as well as the words, I’m immensely proud of this album. There really is’n’t any phoned-in filler joints, and whilst I take an age to work out the best sequencing for the tracks, all the songs can hold their own in whatever position they landed in.
As always, I’m immensely indebted to the people who helped, from Lionel who had input into so many elements, to my girlfriend who features in the FWW and ‘No Dragon’ intro, Higgies and Fumo for their contributions sand also entrusting me to put things together, Ace Ha for being one of the inspirations to make my own beats and for giving his time to properly critique, My homie Cokroach X for his opening to ‘Ignunt MC’ – he’s the opening line king now after doing the same on ‘Fritzl of love’ on my last album….and for the dope contributions from the voice actors and session musicians that brought this to life.
Now looking forward to more projects with the people mentioned above, and already started thinking about the next Mink-C album.
Peace and Enjoy
Permission provided for promotional use
Permission provided for promotional use
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Mink-C c/o Smells Funky Productions, 24 Langford Gardens, Grantham, Lincs NG31 8DW, Tel : +44 (0)7725 079485