Legenadary early UK Hip Hop group GreenJade marked the 20th anniversary of their acclaimed album Chronicles:The Story So Far on 31st January. To celebrate this, GreenJade will be releasing the footage from the concert in full for the first time as they prepare to release their documentary, GreenJade: The Best Kept Secret later on in the year.
GreenJade are a 4 piece UK Hip Hop from Clapham, South London that were active between 1996-2010 when the group disbanded after the release of their 4th album Movement To Progress. What loosely began as a gang of whom 15 of its 25 members came to faith around 1995, GreenJade were a solid part of the embryonic UK Hip Hop scene and winners of a UK Hip Hop Award. Simultaneously GreenJade were legends in the Urban Gospel scene of the late 90’s and 00’s, contributing to changing the genre – from vocal choirs to a largely rap based influence as we see today with the likesof Faithchild, Hope Dealers and Guvna B.
Contemporaries of Black Twang, Sway, Roots Manuva and Ty, GreenJade battled for a place on the radio at a time when the musical landscape favoured purely American Black artists. The release of their first album, Chronicles: The Story So Far, came in the same year that the BBC created 1Xtra, the first station to ever have a mandate to play Black British music. GreenJade were played on both the Hip Hop shows with the likes of DJ Ace & Vis as well as the Gospel show with DJ Fitz.
The launch party of the debut album was a piece of history in itself. The independently promoted event took place at the Brixton Fridge (now the Electric) which they managed to sell out, with 1500 people coming to see a faith-based UK Hip Hop act headlining their own show, which was unprecedented at the time.
Their track Gunz Down from their third album LIFE As We know It (which also featured Kick off Ya Shoes) caught the attention not only of radio, where Choice FM had them as track of the week for a month but also government, when then London Mayor Boris Johnson supported their anti-gang violence Gunz Down schools tour, that they had created with London Charity XLP which ran for 5 years.
They were also nominated for a MOBO in 2008 but were concerned that being in the Gospel category may negatively impact their schools work, so they withdrew privately. Unfortunately, they were proved correct in their concerns when The Voice newspaper ran an article questioning the validity of their faith for turning down the award which created a controversary that ultimately saw their schools work grind to a halt and they then had to relaunch their school tour under the name Fighting Chance with XLP taking more of the lead.
GreenJade finally came to an end on the 10/12/10 with an event at the Mass in Brixton. Along the way they opened for Jay Z whilst part of the crew ZionNoiz, with whom they recorded the album Many Sound One Noiz. The Gunz Down animated music video was one of the first faith-based rap videos to be played on MTV from a UK artist. They performed around the world, which also included being part of the celebrations for the Athens Olympics in 2004. They inspired and supported many of the backing vocalist and session musicians that dominate the UK industry today, many of whom grew up in the churches that GreenJade performed in.
Having witnessed the South London based UK Hip Hop scene gave way to East London based Grime in the early 2000’s and grow exponentially, GreenJade are excited to see the reestablishment of South London based rap artists like Dave and Stormzy take the lead with a street sound supported by a faith-based background. The core four members continue to make an impact in their community with Judah and Wei both qualified councillors, 3rd Son is now an architect, while Wizdom remains in the creative industries where, as an interesting twist of faith, he now runs MOBO’s UnSung program, developing artists through his own CIC, We Are Impact.
GreenJade will be releasing a multipart documentary later in 2022, charting their involvement in the rise of UK Rap, Urban Gospel and Youth Violence, which will be titled GreenJade: The Best Kept Secret.
Connect with them for updates and more at their website: www.thegreenjade.co.uk