b. Simon Francis, c.1967, England. A bright new hip-hop talent from Northampton, England, Express has been rapping since 1981. However, his musical path took a different slant when he joined a local industrial dance unit. Eventually, following a major label débâcle, he and his partner Stuart left London to regroup. Together they elected to keep their music independent, setting up their own imprint, Expressive Records, to this end. In October 1993 Express’ first record, the Hit The Hook Heavy EP, arrived. It quickly attained cult popularity, not least for its references to television fare like Inspector Morse and the absence of Chris Waddle from the England football squad. Even Ian Paisley got a namecheck, as the New Musical Express pronounced its verdict with a Single Of The Week award. Other songs also contained references to the footballer Andy Cole. However, if anyone had marked Express as a novelty act he brought about a quick rethink with 1994’s follow-up, ‘Gone To The Dogs’. This, as the title suggested, was a young black man’s reflection on the election of a British National Party politician to the Isle Of Dogs (London) council.
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