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MC Duke

Plenty of oldschool hardcore producers started off as b-boys, hip-hop DJs, and even some as MC’s. Of those, few if any were as accomplished in hip-hop as MC Duke (real name Anthony Hillaire), who produced plenty of wicked jungle/hardcore alongside his DJ, DJ Leader 1.

One of the greatest things about MC Duke is that his hip hop tracks played a part in influencing the hardcore/jungle scene which he then stuck around for. Specifically, his track “I’m Riffin'” is one of the more heavily sampled hiphop tracks in hardcore/jungle (and that’s saying a lot). The drums in this track were produced by Simon Haris for Music Of Life productions, which was responsible for many of the more heavily sampled breakbeats in jungle/hardcore. While not as famous by name as the amen or think break, the “i’m riffin” break is easily recognizable to anybody who has heard a decent amount of 92-94 tracks.

MC Duke – I’m Riffin (Smokin Beats)

Not only were the beats in “I’m Riffin”, heavily sampled, but the acapella was as well. Duke had a great low voice which pitched up nicely to hardcore speed, and there were plenty of sampleable lines.
MC Duke – I’m Riffin (Acapella)

For Jungle tunes, he produced under several aliases – E.K.U.D.C.M. (which is just MC Duke spelled backwards), Double H Productions, E. Kude, Konspiracy, etc.

One of his best known jungle tracks is “How dark it is”, which includes a sample of Duke saying “I can’t believe how dark it is!”. For some reason, most of the vocals in his jungle tunes are pitched up, even though he could have easily recorded them at the right tempo for the track.

E.K.U.D.C.M. – How Dark It Is (Remix)

Another quality EP, where the “how dark it is” track originated:

Double H Productions – Noise Level 1

Under the name E.Kude, he did several wicked singles on Boogie Times (pre-Suburban Base label). “Never Let Go” is the only one I own, though I probably prefer “Don’t Be Afraid”. The vocal at the beginning of “Never Let Go” is used in other tracks, including Yolk’s “music for the people”.

E. Kude – Never Let Go

Finally, here’s a record credited to E.Kude on Discogs, though there’s nothing on my copy of it to indicate it’s by them. Pretty nice EP sampling a few big tracks from the time, including “feel real good”:
DJ’s Experience -Side A

MC Duke also produced an LP of samples for Suburban Base’s sublabel “Bluntly Speaking”. This might have been because he was sick of being endlessly sampled and not getting cash for it (the Double H Productions record even had “sample this and get smoked!” printed on the label). Despite sounding like a dream for subbase / oldschool fans, most of the samples don’t have anything to do with jungle/hardcore, and instead are straightforward sample CD fodder like 808 and 909 hits. Granted, that stuff was probably indispensible to producers back then, but for a Suburban Base sample record, I would have much rather heard some Rachel Wallace acapellas or some signature sounds from the sub base studio.

The only standouts in my opinion are a few good vocal samples from the Duke himself:

listen to the beat go boom.wav

5 Replies to “MC Duke”

  1. Hey pete

    I know this is a age old post, but I had to comment!
    MC Duke! yeah! Im a die hard fan of old english hip hop, specially gunshot and hijack… doest they have space in your heart too?

  2. yeah I love that stuff, I finally bought Hijack “The Badman is Robbin'” on this last trip to the UK, plus the Hustler’s Convention album on Music Of Life. I might do a post of that stuff in a few days, but I dunno if I have enough different records to rip & post (mainly just lots of silver bullet)

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