MC Lenni

This was my first interview that I've ever done face to face

I was quite nervous meeting Lenni , even though I've know him for quite along time especially now on a personnel level.

We met up in Birmingham city centre and he took me back to his home, this was the first time that I really got to know the real 'Lenny'. Not 'MC Lenni', it was cool as we talked about his musical background with his love of music.

Lenni is gifted musically as he can play the guitar very well, Lenni is a bass player and that music runs through his family.

He started to play the guitar in time with some background music, Lenni admitted he couldn't play music with a set of notes in front of him as it was a foreign language to him but could play just hearing the tune. He even played the bass line from Topbuzz's Living in darkness off the guitar and told me that Jason should of added an extra note in there.

Not only does lenni have a passion for music but he can also play football as he showed me his football medals, trophies as he used to play semiprofessional around the midlands.


1.MC Lenni, one of the original oldskool mc's from back in the day, the start of the dance music revolution aka RAVE, what inspired you to mc and get into rave music?

Good question Rappers at the time hip hop, R'n'B, I liked the way the words blended with the music so you had two concepts not a vocal but a speaking voice concept, a speaking beat behind it.
That's what got me started.

2.You've mc'ed at many raves including some of the classic raves i.e. Fantazia, Quest, Pandemonium, Amnesia and of course Flashback, but which raves have stood out for you and why?

Book of Love. Easily me and Carl (Carl Cox) played a set there it was pretty amazing the way the stage was set out, because we came down on this mad platform there was a lot of people there. When you're so high up like we were, all we could see there was a carpet of heads, you could see this a mile back.
Also the rag market in Birmingham back in 1991 as it was the start of things kicking off in Birmingham.

3.Who have been your influences within or outside the rave scene?

My influences obviously Fabio Grooverider and Mickey (Mickey Finn) without a shadow of a doubt as there people that im close with. MC wise skibadee, dett, fearless there people I really like mad p, man parris everson (continues to talk about how he admires everson) to me he has been my number one he's got everything done everything he was in Japan before I was by a year.

4.The rave scene has brought us many classic hits and amazing events which years have stood out for you? Be it the music or the events.

93-95 as that was when drum and bass started as we started to get darker and reggae influence, drum and bass started kicking off, those two years were firin.

5.Mcing for over 10 years you've must of seen some crazy stuff happen at raves would you care to share on what you've seen?

Handsworth leisure centre, as I had to jump off stage and take someone's tongue from out there neck, even I collapsed there through exhaustion as it was so hot and I was jumping around at the end of the gig.

 
6.What are your opinions that people say that the current drum and bass scene is becoming more mc dependant?

Yes to an extent as the mcs now have there own genre there own little corner they get some gigs as equal billing as the dj's. As they're a name of themselves they get to the stage, were people copy their lyrics when they get on stage they know what there gonna say its just a question and answers thing were they say before you say. Its brilliant in itself because they know what's going on and their into the mc now they know what the mc is about. If your good at your job one thing about Ravers their not fickle, they know if your good or bad. They'll vote with their feet and if you play a whack set you'll see the place empty, you can tell by the audience. By anticipation and participation of what your doing.

7.Not only are you an MC from back in the day but you used to own a record shop in Birmingham City Centre. Could you delve into how you started up and what happened?

There was no one selling hardcore records at the time apart from Lee Fisher, in 1996 they decided to go into progressive house, which wasn't what I was into.

Obviously we came into an agreement I brought the shop off them and started to stock it with drum and bass and hardcore at that time the rave scene was very healthy and big. There was a market to sell, with any business you need a market and the market was there then, that's what got me into it then business and music orientated.

8.You also made a track with your vocal " Who said mc's cant make music this is lenni talking" How did that come about ?

Who said mc's cant make music was my first tune that I put out it was done at dept international which was owned by UB40, Al Faultner had a subsidiary label called ruff tone he was giving Birmingham lads a chance being a Birmingham lad himself. We went into the studio I came up with that concept a year before, but its something I wanted to try as I'm a musician by nature, so it natural progression from what I was doing.

My engineer on that track was Bitty McClean, so there were good people involved.

9.As you're an exclusive MC for the Flashback crew how did you hook up with Mo, Jimmy and the rest of the crew? Did you think Flashback was going to popular as it is today?

As they used to have a place in Hockley "The venue" one day Grooverider was playing up there so I talked to him and I met him up there. I didn't know Mo and Jimmy then as me and Groove go back, so Groove was up there and he said here you go Len you mc for me.

Ok you know because its groove he didn't want any unknown mcin for him, as he's very personnel when it comes to his music.

Obviously me and groove have done this before, so it kicked off Jimmy was happy Mo was happy, they introduced themselves to me and I introduced myself to them and I come back I did the next one.
I enjoyed it that much me and groove did the venue one time think it was the third one I done for them and the place was shaking the floor was shaking everything was shaking!!! Absolute madness and bedlam I said to myself i like this, this is my niche this is my corner.

We can kind of keep this pure keep this rolling still and it wont get kind of distressed by many people. I was into it from then I was exclusive to them to an extent as I did small things other gigs and venues for promoters that I'm still close with still. I mainly wanted to do that (Flashback) as I could see that it had a future, I could see that it would take off in a very big way and I knew it had longevity. I can be proved right on that because we've done sevens years now and were still firin.

Seven years down the line and your still firing, you must be doing something right. The organisation as a whole not just me or mo, jimmy or Gerald and Carl, its everybody the full concept. It's the people inside the rave it's the bods that come back every time it's the people that perform there it's a family.
Its not just about the mcs or djs its about everybody, I like that as everybody is part of it are involved its not just about us, because when we perform as the ravers make the other ravers work and then I get feedback I get vibes, you get vibes, the dj gets vibes, the whole place gets vibes.

 
10.Looking back on the past 5 years, which has been your favourite Flashback that you've mc'ed at?

That's a hard one, me and groove the one we've been talking about me and mickey three years when me and mickey first done the que club along with me and Fabio it was absolute bedlam felt like a football match.

11.With the future of the Que club very much in doubt what do you think is the future for flashback?

Well we've used the sanctuary, flashback as an organisation its just venues were looking at, as flashback the organisation will just go on as we've proved, as we've used the sanctuary twice now. There's a bit to run there's still life init its just finding the right venue.

12.The Institute / Sanctuary, Digbeth
or
Que club, Corporation Street? And why???

That's personnel, Institute I owned the venue as a mc one time and used to own the record shop next door. So it's a personnel venue I used to go there in the sixties and seventies. But the Que club definitely as that's my home that's my house I know every inch of the stage the acoustics.

13.What career path do you think you would of taken had you had not become a mc?

That's a great question… I probably would of stayed in football obviously being semi-pro or a manger. But I would of obviously stayed in music as my first dj set was in 86

14.What advice would you give to any of the up and coming MC's trying to breaking through into the scene?

Be yourself always be yourself if you cant freestyle sit there with a pen and a pad, but if you can freestyle be yourself just be yourself people have got to like you before you cant start relaxing. I know a lot of good mc's out there fighting to get a little piece of the action but its still hard to move the unmoveables, what you say to a mc that's been around the world mcin for his bread and butter not a lot he's got the t-shirt and you haven't.

Top ten tunes:
(In any order)

Pulp fiction
Helicopter
Paper bag
No Diggity
Lighter
Keep the fires burning
Let me be your fantasy
(two reasons 1. I know baby 2. It brings back so many memories)
My own tune of course
Dread bass
Screwface

(G was my bredrin and I miss him still)

Last but not least KFC or MacDonald's.
KFC, as they've just opened a nice establishment down the road and I'm a chicken man.

Shout outs to.
Nitesh and Ed, Grooverider, Fabio my wife Jo (for putting up with me) My kids Kai and Cody, Fearless, Man Parris, The Prodigy, Everson, Rap, Slipmatt, Jez Bailey and of course the Birmingham crew

I'd personally like to thank Lenni for inviting me to his home and taking time out to carry out this interview.

October 2003

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Words By Nitesh / Xtra-C Flashbackin' & Rewindin'