MDR Selects – MC Nelson

After a short hiatus, which was spent shaking off January blues and getting those wheels back in motion, MDR Selects returns. A series that invites our favourite artists, labels, record stores and more to curate a playlist of songs that hold specific meaning to them. We’re kicking off 2020 with the ‘torch-bearer for scouse hip-hop’, MC Nelson!

MC Nelson has left his indelible mark across Liverpool and beyond. His funny, thoughtful and philosophical lyrics boast of being from Up North (“you can still get gravy on your chips”), as well as the importance of his Nigerian roots (“England is a colourful tapestry”). His thought-provoking yet positive messages can be heard all over his debut album ‘Anglosfear’, which Nelson himself describes as exploring “the malaise and fear that ran through England’s identity crisis in the 2010s”. We’re delighted to catch him ahead of his first gig of the new decade – Sumati Sundays tomorrow at The Zanzibar, alongside local pals Brad Stank, Yannu and Remy Jude. Things don’t slow down there for MC Nelson, with further dates across the UK in May. In the meantime, here’s what he had to say about his selections:

“I decided to use this playlist as a chance to put together the songs that soundtracked my 2019. I bounced all-over last year, so pulling this together was really taking back to all the places I visited. I spent a fair portion recording my debut project ‘Anglosfear’ – on a shameless self promo ting a couple tracks from there made it in, as did a lot of the lo fi, downtempo jazz hop that was influencing me while I made it. I spent December in the motherland, Nigeria, so all the tunes my cousins were putting me on to are reflected in the playlist with Burna Boy, Zlatan and Fireboy.

Since I stopped being such a hard-nosed, “it’s all about bars homie”, back-pack rapper a few years back, I’ve really fallen in love with RnB, to the point where in an ideal world I would make RnB if it wasn’t for the slight hurdle of not being able to sing even passably. There’s a good showing for ’90s and ’90s influenced RnB with some Jon B, Janet Jackson and Children of Zeus in the mix as well.

Finally, there’s a lot of songs here that are really placed to represent a whole album, with a track from Shabazz Palaces – ‘Black Up’, which melted my little teenage grime MC mind last decade. Sampha – ‘Process’ if you need a lil cry. Gil Scot Heron – ‘Pieces Of A Man’ if you want pure unfiltered knowledge but are too lazy to read to book. And finally Bobby Humphrey – ‘Black and Blues’ for a sunny day.”