Formed in a heartbeat within the cracks and alleys of Ladbroke Grove and Portobello, evolving over a lifetime from Powis Square to Times Square are Rotten Hill Gang. A West London based collective of street poets and classically trained musicians thrown into a room to record and film the chaos in an attempt to make music and TV exciting again. With a no fear attitude of “achievement is the belief of the imagination.”
The backbone of the gang features Gary McPherson, rapper/poet Rotten Red West, on percussion Martin Hallett, and Gus Robertson on guitar/vocal duties. The latest album, Teach Peace features Hollie Cook and Annie Bea two talented writers/performers along with Fjokra Mac, the multi-instrumentalist who can pick a tune out with his teeth.
Rotten Hill Gang believe speaking their mind about what’s going on in the world, such as “education, housing, healthcare, food banks, racism, corporate greed, tax evasion, climate change, child abuse and religion all need to be addressed properly, not swept under the carpet to be covered up by the next scandal”.
Teach Peace begins with “Party Ova”, a heavy beat protrudes over spoken word about the recession. “London’s Burning, ‘Cos No-One’s Earning” is a full-throttle assault on the struggles of family life and trying to live a life struggling for money while bankers take their bonuses.
“If We’re Feeling It We’re Stealing It” is London attitude, a summer style suitable for a local carnival as the attendees will be in full flow, bowing to the funky riff and the lyric “I’d take my chances you know we’re all bastards you think I’m left holdin’ my breath” leading to “Writers Block” a track about…writer’s block and Rotten Red West spits out lyrics “My pen thinks I’m cheating with the mic, the mic thinks I’m cheating with the pen…”. They remind me of UK hip-hop rock band, Senser.
Rotten Hill Gang’s catchy radio friendly “Fatman Funkin”, moves onto issues with the police in “Let Me Breathe”. “Deeper” relaxes the vibe until we hit “Uncool in Nice”, where wordsmith Rotten Red West has a back up of harmonious vocals. I’m enjoying Mr West’s vocal talents and the collaboration between the members emphasising their passion to have voices heard for the people who cannot.
Teach Peace finishes with the powerful “Little Ben” about a boy who suffers from an alcoholic dad who beats his boy. The story of Little Ben grows in this world of hunger and shame, as Ben works hard to improve his education staying away from drugs and other entanglements.
If you get the opportunity see this West London crew out and about on the music circuit, you’ll be welcome to the terrordome.
Teach Peace is released on the 27th July via Republic of Music