Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Vital Signs - Rockin' Rhythms - 1992

12" - 1992 - Hueman Records  


Let's talk about this Baltimore-based group called Vital Signs (VS) who released this 12" entitled "Rockin' Rhythms" in September 1992 on HueMan Records. The crew consists of two MCs, Roland Taylor a.k.a Redstorm/MC Connoisseur and George Slade a.k.a MC Law/Lynx, and one DJ/Producer, Brandon Ware a.k.a DJ B-Ware/Arkitek. 
This debut 12" received heavy rotations on college radios from the East Coast at that time, from NY to down South. This wax which is really hard to find nowadays, is composed of 2 tracks entitled "Rockin' Rhythms" on the A-side (Original and Remix versions) and "You in Danger" on the B-side (Original and Edit versions).

Photo courtesy of Roland Taylor

Roland Taylor who is now a famous children's book author (The Hip-Hop Chessmaster / I Know I Can), accepted to answer a few questions to give me more info.

- Roland, which part of Baltimore did you all come from ?

Roland Taylor : "Brandon and I are from West Baltimore and George is from East Baltimore. We all met in High School at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute."

- How did the connection first happen between you, Law and The Arkitek ?

Roland Taylor : "A friend of Brandon’s and another one of our classmates Doug Handy introduced us after hearing us flow. VS formed around 1989. " 

1990 - Photo courtesy of Roland Taylor 

- Where does the name Vital Signs come from ?

Roland Taylor : "Vital Signs means having a pulse on the culture ! It also symbolizes the equalizer. 

- What were the hip-hop influences of the group at that time ?

Roland Taylor : "We had a wide variety of influences from all genres of music. But specifically I would say Native Tongues and then most of the originators like LL Cool J, etc..."

- Could you tell me who managed HueMan Records ?

Roland Taylor : "HueMan Records was managed by us, we were an independent record company."

- Do you remember how many copies of the 12" (Rockin' Rhythms) were pressed in 1992 ? 

Roland Taylor : "We dropped Rockin’ Rhythms as a single to promote the group. I don't remember the exact quantity but we pressed enough copies of the 12" for local record stores and a variety of college and other radio stations".

2 years after the release of their debut single, Vital Signs appeared in the Demo section of The Fever Magazine issue of March 1994. A full review of their demo tape was written by Eric Jenkins.

Photo courtesy of Roland Taylor

- Why did the album recorded in the 90s never come out officially ?

Roland Taylor : "We were all still in college at that time and other priorities prevented us from dropping a full length album. Plus, I think we were in the mindset of trying to get signed by a major. Very different from now where you don’t even need a label to release your music..."

By chance, all the tracks from the unreleased debut album are available on youtube via Roland's youtube channel... My favorites are "Nightmare", "Rockin' Rhythms", "Are You Ready", "Eye Of The Storm" and "We On Da Move". I think the album deserves an official release on vinyl... What about you ? ... Good listening fellas ! 

Mad props to Roland Taylor, thanks for everything. 

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