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Runaways UK

AJ Kwame and Joe 2000 (aka Joe 2 Grand), better known as the Runaways UK, are a pair of veritable breakbeat acrobats who tease out futurist beats from spirits past and passions present. To put it simply, they're two extraordinarily talented musicians pushing the boundaries of sound. The two began collaborating when they formed the experimental hip hop group Revolutions Per Minute (or RPM) in 1991. Under this moniker the group released singles on the then fledgling Mo Wax label and toured Europe with Mo Wax founder James Lavelle and the talented DJ Shadow.

They soon became notorious for putting on eclectic underground parties in Brighton, England, where they combined music with art installation and live paintings involving DJs, musicians, and spray paint artists. After RPM lost its third member in 1995, the duo went on to become the Runaways UK. Soon they found a new home, Ultimate Dilemma Recordings, alongside artists such as Common Ground and Jaydell, where they released a debut EP, Pathways. They followed up on that with the club smash "Playschool" in the summer of 1997.

The Runaways' debut full-length, 1998's Classic Tales, which features the instrumental cut, "Levitation," is a series of episodic journeys through a hip hop fantasy, seamlessly combined to create a sonic masterpiece. The artists sought to truly forge a U.K. hip hop sound. The music is totally freed from the straitjacket of the typical dance music ethos. Using the decks as the lead instrument and combining the sharpest of breaks with live instruments and imaginative samples, the Runaways UK have created an album of almost classical complexity. They employ orchestral strings and live bass, producing a continuous aural spanking and a supremely bugged out sound.

2000's Progress (featuring "Momentum"), is the latest and greatest offering from the duo, continuing their escapades in cinematic, downtempo turntablism and pure hip hop that may be likened to that of Cali Agents. "Momentum" is pure instrumental chill time, juxtaposing crisp beats and deft scratches against evocative violins, melodic keys, assorted strings, with soft murky vocal bursts way down beneath it all. Cinematic to a degree, but for those seeking a bit of MC stylings, Progress has that as well, with tracks such as "Express Delivery," featuring the one and only Masta Ace of Juice Crew, and "You Don't Understand," featuring J-Zone with superb lyrical flow and jazzy texturing. In a dope cross Atlantic collaboration, Iriscience from Dilated Peoples drops intelligent, soulful, rich wordplay on "Pounds 4 Dollars."

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