28 Days of Album Cover Blackness With VSB, Day 18: Shut Up and Dance's Dance Before The Police Come! (1990)

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Album Cover Blackness With VSB, Day 18: Shut Up and Dance's Dance Before The Police Come! (1990)
Image: Shupt Up and Dance ‘Dance Before the Police Come!’ (Shup Up and Dance Records)

It’s possible that you’ve never heard of the London-group Shut Up and Dance. They were (are) a British production/rap duo who got started at the very tail end of the 80s and made music through the 2000s. If you listen to their early music, it sounds a lot like the hip hop coming out of New York City, except sped up to house-music beats per minute. Basically, it’s very British. They use a lot of the same breakbeats, slightly less 808-bass, and similar samples, but they rap like, well, Brits. That’s not a slight, but their accent is very present to my American ears. Over the course of their career, they transitioned into the garage sound.


I’d recommend checking out this album, Dance Before The Police Come!; it’s better than the album cover, which is why we are gathered here today. Whew, chile. Why Philip “PJ” Johnson and Carl “Smiley” Hyman decided to do an album cover oiled up with machetes and nun chukkas is beyond me, but listen, in 1990, this ain’t even a terrible album cover. It is, however, pretty significantly Black AF. Black infatuation with ninja-dom isn’t anything new, but what it has to do with an album titled Dance Before The Police Come! is a headscratcher. The album title, though, is oddly appropriate for the content.

This album is pretty socially conscious in a very early 90s way with danceable tracks about oppression and white supremacy alongside jams about being a Black man. Every song sounds like a sped-up version of some song that could have been on the Menace II Society soundtrack. With less baby oil, of course. The hairdos look straight up out of Snowfall so we’re trending along with real life.

So get your whole life, grab some baby oil and whatever violent cutlery or sticks you have around the house and dance before the police come.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



My immediate impression was that they must have inspired Wu Tang Clan to some degree.