Jon Phonics
The Astral Black label boss walks us through the films that inspired his latest beat tape…

Astral Black label boss and beatmaker Jon Phonics recently threw down the gauntlet to MCs with, a tape of twelve unreleased instrumentals created across the past decade entitled ‘Beats To Talk Crud To’.

These sample-based MPC 1000 creations aren’t the type that you’re going to hear emanating from incense shrouded hipster lifestyle stores, we’re talking slap-you-in-the-face bangers reminiscent of an era when every other song in the club was produced by Just Blaze or Heatmarkerz. If anyone does decide to step up and spit on these, then their crud talk better be on point!

Keeping that same energy, Jon has naming the beats after some of the grittiest films of all time: from hood classics such as ‘Paid In Full’, ‘Belly’ and ‘Juice’, to homegrown masterpieces like ‘Lock, Stock’ and ‘Trainspotting’.

Ahead of our free party with Astral Black at the Ace Hotel on Wednesday night, it’s only right that Jon Phonics invites us for a trip to the movies, with his guide to the cinema staples that inspired his latest collection…

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Menace 2 Society (1993)

When I think of Menace 2 Society I think of the Wayan brothers’ spoof, ‘Don’t Be A Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood’ to be honest: “Salary desired: 3 million dollars! Cash!” This track has the voice in the sample saying “You're a menace to society” so it titled itself really.

Poetic Justice (1993)

This movie is basically 2pac getting increasingly frustrated with Janet Jackson cos she can't decide if she likes him or not, whilst sitting in a post van. The opening scene with Q-Tip is cold though. Big up the ill Maya Angelou bits as well. Also there is a scene in this movie with ‘Pac drinking a beer, and it looks so awkward like he never drunk a beer before.

Paid In Full (2002)

A personal favourite without a doubt. Set in Harlem, the outfits throughout are wild. Mekhi Phifer, Cam'Ron and Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale) = winning combination + visionary casting. Ace is my guy! Dame Dash is doing up acting in it. Rico is an amazing depiction of how greed can consume and make you pure evil, gotta love it.

King Of New York (1990)

Oh shit, this one another doozy. Christopher Walken and Laurence Fishbourne rolling like absolute bosses. This film is on. some. shit! The scene where Frank White is standing on the roof talking about "If I can get a year or two, I could make something good"... the hunger is real man!

La Haine (1995)

“So far so good, so far so good” - trapped in the outskirts, this one very much resonated with me and my friends when we were at school. We are all Vinz' trying to be Hubert's. The mixing, clothes, whole vibe we used to cat pretty hard. It's a bit similar to [Larry Clark’s] ’Kids’ vibe wise but more relevant to me and less rapey.

Belly (1998)

If you haven't seen Belly then what is you doing, really. Directed by Hype Williams, the whole film looks like one long music video. Method Man is in it doing real G shit like going undercover as an out of towner just to try infiltrate a squad and he ain’t even a police officer, shit is wild. Ox is the truest depiction of a G. The whole Nation Of Islam stuff intertwined in the story is on point: this shit is woke before woke was a thing.

Trainspotting (1996)

I just called this beat 'Trainspotting'; because I remembered watching trains go past the window at the crib in Camberwell while I made the beat.

Lock, Stock (1998)

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is such a part of me, I had a ‘Lock, Stock’ poster on my wall when I was kid. The film is 20 years old this year, and not a week goes by where I don’t reference it in some way. "Knives are good because they don't make any noise..."; "Copious amounts of ganja,” "wrap them guns up, count the money and put your seat belt on,” “I'm not fucking laughing, Nicholas,” "It's a deal, it's a steal, it's sale of the fuckin' century.” Ah it's a classic that one mate.

Bullet Boy (2004)

Another British film, this was like the first UK hood film of my generation that was levels. Before it films weren't convincing but Ashley Walters in this is ill and I feel it set the standard for Top Boy, Harry Brown, etc.

Dead Presidents (1995)

I seem to remember this film isn't as good as other cultural works of art that reference it. I just remember a bank robbery and something about hiding in bins with face paint on.

Juice (1992)

This seems to be a few people's favourite beat on the tape. This beat was also named after the sample I used, when I started the tape I had this, ‘Menace 2 Society’ and ‘Dead Presidents’ so the names just flowed. It's another 2pac film and one of the better ‘Pac hood films, plus the soundtrack bangs.

Clockers (1995)

This is my shit, one of top three films of all time. I used to put this on and watch it on mute whilst I made beats. Possibly Harvey Keitel's best performance. Lots of long scenes with ill quiet storm bangers and no dialogue in, the soundtrack is like velvet.

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Catch Jon Phonics alongside Lava LaRue, Capo Lee, Fredwave, Shy One, and Impey at the Clash x Astral Black party at the Miranda, Ace Hotel on Wednesday (July 25th) - grab a free ticket now here, alternatively RSVP via email to:

Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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