Jim Vanderpump takes a comedic look into the Norwich City squad from 1998. We'll let you decide if there's any truth to the tales. (hint - there definitely isn't)
“How comes you’re wearing a Rasta hat with fake dreadlocks coming out the sides?” asks Darren Eadie.
“It’s a disguise int it,” I tell the dim-witted tyke. “I’m a famous footballer; Alex Ferguson once described me as the best man-marker in England. I can’t just walk the streets of Norwich looking like meself, it’d cause a riot.”
“So why is your stage-name DJ Flem-boyant?” chips-in Keith O’Neil, the cheeky beggar.
“Listen, I’m not going to discuss the nuances of my whole performance paradigm wi’ the likes-a you. Now gimme a hand setting up me decks, will yer, and watch the Wailers vinyls, they’re worth a Bob or two.”
These two numpties are s’posed to be ’elping us set up the stage, ready for the show, but they’re about as much use as a flamin’ library in Great Yarmouth.
Ey-up, let me explain what’s occurring. About three week back I wor up at Colney having a shower on me todd (well, on all the parts of me body actually). We ant had training, I just always use the showers there to save money ont lecky at home. I was washing the last of Iwan Roberts’ conditioner out me eyes (I’ve tried ’em all but his is the best) when I heard a commotion coming from t’ changing room. It wor someone speaking, but not in the conventional sense. They wor speaking dead quick-like, and the last word of each sentence rhymed with the last word of the sentence before. Some of you may recognise this pattern of speech as ‘rapping’. I just knew it as talking like a soft beggar, but there we are.
Gently, I turned off the tap, picked up Darryl Sutch’s towel (I’ve tried ’em all but his is the softest) and tiptoed around t’ wall, to take a peek at this siren who had disturbed me free shower. Well, when I saw who it wor I wor reet flummoxed. Standing in front of mirror, a baseball cap on his head, all wonky-like, big gold chain around his neck, wor Adrian Coote. Aye, that’s right, the shy kid who wunt say boo to a goose. Well, the words were flowin’ from him now alright, he wor coming out wi’ all sorts-a tripe:
“They call me MC Rain cos I like to soak bitches,
Any fools from Ipswich gonna end up getting stiches.”
And so on.
Fook me, I thought, this kid’s onto summat ’ere.
I’m a proud Yorkshireman, see, born and bred, but my spiritual homeland has always been ont other side of t’ Atlantic, on a little island called Jamaica. I’d been doing my Reggae DJ-ing around town ever since I moved down from t’up North, but I had to admit that there wern’t much of an appetite for the genre down here. Slow-paced, jarring, occasionally misogynistic and homophobic; no, the people of Norwich weren’t really forward thinking enough for Reggae. But Reggae fused with rap? Now that had potential.
“Adrian,” I interrupted.
The lad spun around from t’ mirror, a look of horror that someone had caught him int act etched across his face, in black smudges. No, he just had black smudges on his face, and all over his polo shirt too. The oversized chain around his neck must-a been off of his BMX and the oil had made a reet mess of ’im.
“Mr Fleming,” he stammered. Bit of respect, see- I like that. The kid wor perfect.
Long story short, I convinced him that wi’ my help he could make it all the way to t’ top of t’it parade. After some mild flattery, medium bribery and heavily implied threats of violence against members of his family, he agreed and DJ Flem-Boyant became official partners with MC Rain, forming the best double-act since curry met goat.
I had to set him straight on a few things first, mind. His lyrics for one thing.
“Adrian,” I said. “Nobody wants to hear about driving fast cars and having sex wi’ beautiful women, it’s just not realistic. As for spending a shed-load-a money- eeee, it makes me shudder just thinking about it.”
He took it on-board and from then on started focusing on what ordinary Norfolk folk could relate to: how difficult it wor finding a decent parking spot at Pleasurewood Hills, how long it takes to walk to t’ sea at Holkham beach, hole bleedin’ 7 at Eaton Park pitch ‘n’ putt, the usual sort-a stuff.
We used Neil Adams’ garage as a rehearsal studio, to save money ont lecky. Neil din’t know owt about it, but I’d borrowed his car so the garage was just lying there empty, any-road. We’d freestyle to start wi’, I’d put on an instrumental of Junior Murvin, or summat, speed it up until Adrian- soz, MC Rain- found ’is rhythm, then he’d ‘drop it like it wor a hotcake’ (start rappin’ n that).
Our first 3 gigs were intimate dos but went down a storm non-the-less. That’s not to say we din’t encounter some resistance. People are bound to be scared of change (I know I am, apart from loose change; got jars-a the stuff), especially when you’re creating an ’ole new genre of music. I call it ‘Rap-Gae’, but Adrian’s not so sure.
“It sounds like ‘Rap’s Gay’,” he said, his mouth smiling, but in that upside-down way that he does.
“Well, Rap is gay,” I told him triumphantly. “Doesn’t it make you feel happy and gay inside?”
“I prefer ‘Reg-Rap’,” he said quickly before I could talk again.
Well, we’ll let the music moguls down at… Funky FM, or whatever it might be called, decide.
Any road, whatever its name the kids down at the bandstand in Heigham Park loved it. Even the crying ones were smiling before the sweary bit in the uptempo ‘See You in Hellesdon’.
Notcutts Garden Centre was a challenge, I’ll admit, security’s tight over there nowadays, but we got a good track and a half in before I was dragged off-stage (two upturned wheelbarrows) by the fake dreads. Ruddy fascists, dunno what their problem was, the patrons were loving it. The old lady with the hydrangeas couldn’t get enough of Adrian’s verse about mekking cups of tea in ‘Plantain at the Post Office’ (set to Barrington Levy’s ‘Wedding Ring Aside’:
“Leave the tea-bag in for 30 seconds, mother-f*cker,
Don’t be a damn fool, add the milk after the zucker, (‘Zucker’ is German for ‘sugar’. You see, educational as well this ‘rapping’ lark.)
Don’t offer me no earl grey, Mamma didn’t raise me that way…
This is DJ Flem-boyant and MC Rain introducing you to ‘Reg-Rap’.”
“Rap-Gae!” I corrected him, from beneath the armpit of a security guard.
So now here we are, our biggest show to date, in front of t’ other Norwich lads, int pool room at Colney. MC Rain’s int zone, pacing up and down on the stage that Michael Watt’s made out of old book cases for us. We’ve lined out rows and rows of chairs, invited all the staff, including the gaffer and his coaching team. I’m bouncing around behind the decks, itching for the thumbs-up from Jacko, who’s doing the lights from the main door. I’ve got the vinyl (‘Sweet and Dandy’, Toots and the Maytals) all cued up and ready to rock!
Adrian’s nervous, of course he is, but he soon gets into it and really comes into his own during the second verse of ‘Megazone Playa’. Then when I drop the needle on ‘Pass the Dutchie’ there’s no stoppin’ ’im:
“They call me MC Rain and I’m about to get torrential,
Norwich City council need to build more residential,
Housing, for the growing migrant population,
And while you’re at it build another platform at the station.”
We finish big, me fading up to full blast then cutting the music altogether, allowing him to deliver his knockout couplet about unloading the dishwasher in an order based upon which cupboards you’re going to put the contents away in, acapella-style. The room falls into an awestruck silence, and someone coughing over by the dart-board.
After a few seconds, once the lads have pieced their blown minds back together, they smother us wi’ praise.
“Yeah, it’s alright that,” says little Che Wilson from t’ front row.
“I like the bike chain around his neck,” beams baby Darren Kenton.
“Have you been using my conditioner?” asks Iwan Roberts.
Aye, it’s all very positive feedback. Even Neil Adams doesn’t mention the flat battery on ’is car.
“Fleming,” yells the gaffer as he’s filing past us on his way out. “You’re dropped for Saturday.” His glasses’ve all steamed up and the vein in his temple has popped out, like a caterpillar doing sit-ups. “And Coote,” he says, turning to Adrian. “You weren’t gonna be playing anyway, but you’re dropped as well.” He exits, shaking his head and muttering under his breath.
“Don’t worry, lad,” I tell Adrian. “He only listens to UK Garage.”