This week the location of De Underground Records had a blue plaque installed to mark, celebrate, share and preserve the cultural history of the infamous record shop that was once a mecca for D&B heads in the East End.
Based at 18 Sebert Road, in the London suburb of Forest Gate, the shop traded from 1991 to 1996. Owned by Mike De Underground, Cool Hand Flex, Uncle 22 and DJ Randall, this independent business became one of the cornerstones in the development of the UK hardcore, jungle and drum and bass scene.
Why Were Records Shops So Import?
Before the internet, record shops were the social hubs of local music scenes. Every big town had a specialist shop which would be the place to find out about what new tracks were available & the spot to meet musically like minded friends.
Drum & bass fans would stop in each week to buy tickets to the next big rave, to grab flyers detailing what events were coming up, and maybe purchase a tape pack or two.
Having worked in a specialist drum & bass record shop myself for many years, I witnessed first hand how important that local community was. The more die hard customers were the ones who set up the local club nights, and gave the the up & coming DJs from the area a place to show off their DJ skills. Many of the guys who passed through the shop I worked at went on to be big players in today’s scene.
The Influence of De Underground Records
Rendezvous Projects is a Community Interest Company based in East London, working to uncover and document social history through oral testimonies, research and re-presentation.
As part of Newham Heritage Month, Rendezvous Projects conducted interviews with 18 people closely associated with De Underground, including founders Cool Hand Flex, DJ Randall and Uncle 22. These interviews have been produced into a podcast to document the shops iconic place in the history of the area & our music scene.
Throughout the 5 years it was open, had you popped into De Underground you would have seen & heard DJ Randall behind the counter seamlessly mixing the tunes. Drum & Bass luminaries such as DJ Hype, Kenny Ken, Andy C, Doc Scott, Fabio, Grooverider, Goldie, Peshay, DJ Rap, Slipmatt, Swan-E, DJ Zinc were just a few of the faces you might have seen in there.
During the podcast listen out for clips of a few iconic early jungle tracks that were made in the record shops in house studio, tunes such as ‘Melody Madness‘ by Cool Hand Flex, and ‘6 Million Ways To Die‘ by Uncle 22
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