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Us3 Biography

Us3 Biography

Us3 is the brainchild of London-based producer Geoff Wilkinson. Formed in 1992, alongside production partner Mel Simpson, Us3 had two previous incarnations. The first was a limited edition white label 12” release in 1990 called “Where Will We Be In The 21st Century” featuring rapper MC Honey B and jazz pianist Jessica Lauren. This attracted the attention of an indie label named Ninjatune, and the result was NW1’s 1991 12” “The Band Played The Boogie” featuring London rapper Born 2 B. It sampled one of the biggest dance-floor tunes of the burgeoning jazz dance scene, Grant Green’s “Sookie Sookie,” which was originally released on Blue Note Records.

London’s Kiss FM added “The Band Played The Boogie” to its playlist and Wilkinson received a call summoning him to EMI Records’s offices in London.[citation needed] Wilkinson avoided a lawsuit and was granted rights to the archives of Blue Note Records.[citation needed] One of the resulting demos, recorded in March 1992, was “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia).” Two years later, it entered the US top ten. By then, the resulting album, “Hand on the Torch” had become a global phenomenon. It was the first Blue Note album to achieve Platinum status (1,000,000 sales) in the USA.

After several world tours with the Us3 band, Mel Simpson left for other endeavors, and in 1996 Wilkinson set about making a follow-up album. New York rappers KCB and Shabaam Sahdeeq came in to replace Rahsaan Kelly, Kobie Powell, and Tukka Yoot, and the resulting 1997 album was “Broadway & 52nd.” The Blue Note samples became more embedded in the grooves and experimental tracks like “Snakes” (in 5/4) and the spoken-word “Sheep."

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