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MC CONRAD, ACCLAIMED DRUM’N’BASS VOCALIST, DIES AGED 52

MC Conrad, acclaimed drum’n’bass vocalist, dies aged 52

‘One of the best loved voices’ … MC Conrad. Photograph: Andrew Harvey

One of the best loved voices’ … MC Conrad. Photograph: Andrew Harvey© Photograph: Andrew Harvey

MC Conrad, the vocalist who helped broaden and deepen the scope for jungle and drum’n’bass during the 1990s and beyond, has died aged 52. The news was confirmed by his agency Clinic Talent, who paid tribute saying: “One of the most recognisable and best-loved voices in D&B, he leaves behind him an unmatched legacy.” 

No cause of death has been given for the artist, born Conrad Thompson, who was celebrated for his dexterity on the mic, his singing ability, and affinity with the jazzier end of the genre’s spectrum including in collaborations with producers such as LTJ Bukem and PFM.

 

Thompson started out as a hip-hop MC but, as he told it, he struggled until “the smiley face rave crew were like, ‘Hey come with us’. So I became a raver.” He developed singing alongside high-tempo rapping, and became the ideal foil for British producer LTJ Bukem, who was exploring how jazz fusion could interface with bass music. Thompson became a key voice for Bukem’s label Good Looking Records, and at their club residency Speed at London’s Mars Bar, performing alongside scene mainstays such as Fabio.

He and Bukem collaborated on an entry in the BBC’s Essential Mix series, and released a landmark album in 1998, Progression Sessions 1, that led to the pair being regarded as one of the quintessential DJ-MC combos in British dance music.

Thompson soon began touring internationally, and later developed a producer alias, Con*Natural, as well as his own label, Resonance. He was a champion of digital distribution, and became an early advocate of DJ podcasting in 2013. Later hits in the drum’n’bass scene came with producers such as Makoto and Total Science.

The drum’n’bass scene has paid tribute, with DJ-producer Peshay calling Thompson “a truly unique MC in dnb from day one!! Had his own sound and style and was loved and respected worldwide”. Steppa called him “a truly gifted legend of the scene, one of the nice guys, and gone far too soon”, while promoters Drum’n’BassArena said: “He set the blueprint for generations of MCs with his signature style and brought so much soul to this music.” 

Story by Ben Beaumont-Thomas: The Guardian:  

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