b. Armenia, but settled in New Cross, London, England. One of the most forceful presences in UK rap in the 90s and 00s, Blade is widely regarded for his ability to tear up audiences live (though indie Carter USM fans bottled him offstage when he acted as the latter’s support). More impressive still is his commitment to his art. After starting rapping at age 12, he financed his career by literally hand-selling his records as they emerged, slowly building up a network of fans. His debut album on his own label included contributions from Sista Nubia, MC Mell ‘O’ and Afriqsoul on ‘As Salaamo’. Blade’s ferocious, Chuck D-styled delivery has marked him out as practically the only UK rapper to carry off a hardcore stance with conviction. However, he was still fiercely independent. He opened a subscription service to raise £25, 000 for the recording of his second album, and received it from his enthusiastic fanbase. The resultant set celebrated Blade’s victory over the music industry. It included an answerphone message from someone in the business who had originally turned Blade down, and was pleading to be in on the action.