Teacher schools listeners in hip hop with new mix tape

A shot taken from a YouTube video of Jack Fox and the Harbourmaster performing.
A shot taken from a YouTube video of Jack Fox and the Harbourmaster performing.
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A musician has made a return to hip hop music to record an album featuring a roll call of his favourite artists.

Jack Johnson, who performs as Jack Fox, has released the album - called lower case mixtape - after teaming up with former bandmate Martin Trollope.

The 27-year-old from South Shields has provided most of the vocals on the seven tracks, with production by the Harbourmaster - aka Martin.

The self-employed music teacher first gained a love of hip hop as a student at Harton Technology College, but was persuaded to put the genre to one side as he studied for his GCSE in music.

Jack, who was in a band called rainfallsdown with Martin, said: “We’ve both got a love for hip hop and Martin works at the Customs Space in South Shields so we spent some time in there doing some rapping.
“Then we said why not do a couple of songs and that’s how the project came together.

“I’ve grown up with hip hop, but when I was taken my music GCSE I was told it wasn’t the kind of music we could study, I said that’s fair enough, but now I’ve got back into it.

Jacks grandfather Thomas Duffy, who performed as Alan Fox, in 1977.

Jacks grandfather Thomas Duffy, who performed as Alan Fox, in 1977.

“There is lots of hip hop around the North East, like Rick Fury from Newcastle, and when I first heard him, it was a real eye opener, hearing someone in that accent and I really related to it.

“A lot of hip hop music is about where people are from and it started in America, but there are rappers from London are getting quite big now.

“The North East made me who I am and so the music is accent-heavy.”

The mix tape features samples from artists including Nicki Minaj, Miles Davis, The Flaming Lips, John Lennon and music from the children’s TV show Dungeons and Dragons.

There is lots of hip hop around the North East, like Rick Fury from Newcastle, and when I first heard him, it was a real eye opener, hearing someone in that accent and I really related to it.

Jack Johnson

It also namechecks Jack’s home town and his love of different bands and music.

Jack’s stage name is inspired by his grandfather, comedian Thomas Duffy, who performed as Alan Fox to avoid confusion with an act with a similar name, while Jack’s own name clashes with an American singer-songwriter.

Thomas, who died in 2014 aged 77, appeared alongside Vera Lynn, Frankie Vaughn, the Krankies and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown among others.

Work is already under way on the next mix tape, which features samples including Shirley Bassey and an American Civil War tune.

The first can be streamed via https://soundcloud.com/harbourmasterproductions/.