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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January 2004, 12:14 GMT
Chain gang set to break out
By Nick Dermody
BBC News Online Wales

Goldie Lookin' Chain
Music men: Some key members of the Goldie Lookin' Chain
They are the kings of cheap bling, the masters of housing estate chic - and they could soon be storming a record shop near you.

The Goldie Lookin' Chain - all 23 of them - are a music collective from Newport, who belt out their own form of hip-hop in the street patois of Wales' newest city.

Their anarchic style has already won them a huge following in their own 'hood' as well as the respect of bands which have already broken through to the charts.

Next month may well be crucial for this crew as they support cat-suited rockers, The Darkness, on tour and face a home gig rumoured to be packed with talent-scouts from the record labels.

Why try and pretend to be a gangsta when all you're doing is hanging around Newport, smoking fags and drinking beers
Mr Love Balls

The story behind this collective from Newport is as home-grown as the way they have built up their following.

The core of the band is eight or nine men in their mid-20s who are all friends from school or college, or drinking partners at their city centre local.

They claim to be "recreating urban poetry" and use many of the words and phrases which they hear on the streets of Newport.

A 'clart' is someone who knows about the GLC, a 'bra' is street speak for 'brother'.

And like every hip-hop collective, they have stage names to liven up their image, such as: P Xain, Mystikal, Mr Love Eggs, Adam Hussein and The Maggot.

Goldie Lookin Chain
Urban scenery: The GLC write about life in Newport

So far they have five albums to their name, all self-financed and released on CD through local record stores.

The street-wise tactic has created a following which will see them play to more than 1,000 fans in Newport next month.

But unlike so-called "gangsta rap," which has been accused of praising gun culture and criminality, the GLC produce songs which celebrate the tracksuit wearing naffness of small town - and now small city - life.

Even their name is part of the joke, a joke against themselves and the complete absence of "bling" - the gold and jewellery ostentation toasted in mainstream hip-hop - in the lives of the people they see around them.

John Rutledge, one of the founder members, said the GLC's journey began about three years ago.

"It's hip-hop but it's exactly the opposite of what hip-hop should be.

"Why try and pretend to be a gangsta when all you're doing is hanging around Newport, smoking fags and drinking beers?

"Me and Xain sat down one day and started generating some raves - and we're still in the house and it's getting fuller and fuller every day.

'Cheap bling bling'

"We were writing this stuff because it makes us laugh. I don't really care about the political stuff."

A sometime member of the GLC, who goes by the stage name C Live (a wordplay on his Christian name) put it like this:

"It was basically observing the characters around Newport who are tracksuit-wearing, socks-tucked-in kind of people.

"It's cheap bling bling. It is a joke at the lifestyle which is created for the youth of today.

"It started as a laugh but there is a hardcore following.

"It's obviously going to have a shelf life but they could get a good two or three years out of it.

"It depends how creative they are going to be."

Goldie Lookin' Chain support The Streets at the London Astoria on 2 February, The Darkness in Portsmouth on 7 February and in Folkestone on 8 February. They headline at the Newport City Live Arena on 6 February.

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