|Birth name||Mark Anthony Duffus|
|Also known as||Sure Shot|
|Born||Walsall, Staffordshire, England|
|Genres||Hip hop, jazz, funk|
|Occupation(s)||Record producer, rapper|
|Labels||Kold Sweat, Digital Jukebox Records, Demon|
|Associated acts||Joyce Sims, Fonda Rae, Ced Gee, Yvonne Curtis, Funk Division , Afrika Bambaataa|
Mark Duffus born Mark Anthony Duffus is of Jamaican descent and performs as Sure Shot or Blak Prophetz. He is originally from the West Midlands in England where he formed the band called Blak Prophetz in the early 1980s. He has been an English rapper, songwriter, record producer, drummer and DJ since 1979 whose inspiration came from his father, who was also a DJ from Jamaica.
There were other tracks by Sure Shot under a different name i.e. the Audio Kingz, which could be found on an album entitled "The Wheel Project" by Ruff N Ready Records released in 1990. The initial song was named The Sure Shot Dope Tracks Pt 1.
The early 1990s
During the verses Sure Shot made references to early rap bands like the Sugarhill Gang and Cold Crush Brothers. It achieved a number 9 in the UK Echo's Jazz Charts which was compiled by Steve Chandler in the edition of 18 May of Echoes magazine in 1991 John Mayor, a contributing writer for Mixmag, described the song as a "cool jazz attack for Ladbroke Grove's pavement posse".
John Slater, a reviewer for the Hip Hop Connection magazine researched Sure Shot's past and during the review he touched on how his parents travelled from Jamaica in the 50's and how his father, who was a DJ, inspired his love for making music. Slater also went on to describe how Sure Shot was regularly tasked with "humping massive sound systems around" with his father. These would have been large speakers often carried around when his father was doing a show or was involved in a possible sound clash.
He eventually left Kickin Records to sign a new record deal with London's new Hip Hop record label called Kold Sweat Records based in Ladbroke Grove. Kold Sweat was run by Tony Powell who was also the Managing director of Pinnacle Entertainment and was home to some of the UK's prime hip hop acts of that era including the Son of Noise. Their new single entitled Chapter One was recorded in 1992 and shortly after this release Sure Shot decided to relocate to live in London to pursue his musical career.
Kenny Grogan, another writer for Mixmag, featured the new song in the April edition awarding the song a 4 out of 5 rating. With an ending remark "Mooody", Grogan expressed his acknowledgement of the decreasing hip hop vinyl saying "Homegrown hip hop is hard to find". He praised the existence of the song and went on to say "It should help the rest of the world of decreasing hip hop vinyl".
The mid 1990s
Whilst Sure Shot was working on new material, Kold Sweat decided to close their doors for business for good but this didn't stop him from pursuing his career. In 1998 he decided to release a new single via his own production outfit called Fatt Jointz or FJ Entertainment called Money & Guns which caught the attention of well known DJs including Tim Westwood of BBC Radio 1. Westwood included the single in his favorite "Top 10 Flava's Singles". describing the Prophetz as old skool survivors and praised Sure Shot's reshuffle of the band and previous relocation to London.
A new article by a reporter called Tee Max from the Echoes magazine focused on Sure Shot's new life in London, His settling into the London life and becoming a father for the first time. Money and Gunz grew popular in his home town back in the Midlands as Max would continuously make reference to the fact that it was a favorite on Birmingham's Choice Fm DJ One Step Ahead show. Sure Shot's extensive record collection would often pop up during the discussion as his huge vinyl stack was the backdrop of the interview photo but he was very secretive about which samples he used.
In the November that same year a writer named Mike Lewis of the Hip Hop Connection drew on a more serious issue which was affecting British Hip Hop acts throughout the UK during that period. Lewis knew that many UK acts were finding it almost impossible to gain recognition overseas and that UK Hip Hop was somewhat struggling for exposure. It was a touchy subject that was not usually openly discussed in the media by UK Rap artists but during the interview the Prophetz were not afraid to speak openly about this issue.
During 2003 Blak Prophetz was somewhat put on hold for a short period so that Sure Shot could complete other projects with other musicians like the remix project for Kwame Kwaten of D-Influence and Warren Stacey who was managed by Kwaten at that time. He requested Sure Shot's production skills on a duet track called Hot For You which featured Stacey and was released on Brownsugar Records, distributed by Avex Group, Japan. It was called "The WS Project" located on an album called Soul Essentials Vol 6, released by Avex.
Blak Prophetz were back releasing a 12-inch called With FX, from their coming album that year entitled 2nd Coming. It was released in New York and distributed through TRC Distribution, in Los Angeles on vinyl and was a feature in the Blues & Soul Magazine by writer Ryan Proctor during October 2005.
During that same period came the cross-collaboration release of the 2nd Coming album which included other Rap artists. The album attracted some negative critical attention from Tadah of UrbanSmarts.com magazine who declared:
"As we start with talking about the lyrics, let's end with talking about the lyrics. The potential of what the Blak Prophetz really can do appears on "Still A Kid." This struggle-and-strives tale was done shockingly real and is a hundred times better than the tried and tired battle rhymes on here. Even though the level of the braggadocio only reflects the down earth rap music this is. This is nothing fancy or flashy, but some gritty, grassroots type traditional rap music. Good as such, but in no way spectacular."
Despite lacking positive critical attention from Tadah, the track from the album entitled ' What Is Rap ' was selected by Bartle Bogle Hegarty whose client Mentos chose to use for the global Mentos Fruity 3 High Rider advert campaign.
It also caught the attention of Notion Magazine also known as Notionmag. Notion's Writer, Loriann Luckings conducted an insight into the band's progression focusing on how they had travelled and pushed their way through the ranks saying;
“The lads went to the big smoke in 1996 to distribute, sell and promote themselves and their music. They soon got signed to record label Kold Sweat Records and formed as the Blak Prophetz. Sure Shot is regarded highly for his remixing and production skills, having worked with artists including the likes of Justin Timberlake and Jason Jermaine. He is what is known commonly as the background guy – the one who does a lot of the hard work and takes very little commercial credit."
During the interview in the 1999 edition of 1 August of Hip Hop Connection, Slater asked Blak Prophetz what they thought of the new emerging success of the US Rap group Public Enemy? A response came from a temporary member at that time namely Willie B who responded stating that "Public Enemy stayed where the money was", (meaning that PE remained attached to a record label that was run by a white management). Willie applauded Professor Griff's move to Luke Records, which was run by a team of black individuals. The statement outraged Chuck D, the main member of PE, who later responded directly Willie in issue 34 stressing that there was no black system and that 'Griff' still has to deal with a white ran system.
Sure Shot has managed to earn a publishing deal with 2 Entertain who is now controlled by BBC and Demon Music Group. Since the album, there have been other releases, including. "What Is Rap" which was used in the Global TV commercial for Mentos Fruity 3 Gum. Whilst working on the Blak Prophetz next album he has also been involved other productions for Joyce Sims under the name of The Soul Garden (Funk Division) (his personal jazz/funk production band). He is also an A&R Consultant for Tune Tribe's new London music consultancy company Arising Artists.
A politically themed song called What the F## Pt.1 was released towards the end of 2013. During that same period the song became very popular and the author and founder of the Hip Hop Foundation magazine Karl Smith reviewed and praised the song describing it as "Slamming" stating, “It touches on issues amongst today’s youth”.
Mark briefly managed the international reggae artist Dawn Penn during 2013 and in that same year BET Television invited them both to the BET Awards 2013 ceremony as a special guest to walk the red carpet along with other A-List celebrities and performance which took place at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California. The event consisted of a stunning ‘Reggae Segment’ where Dawn Penn performed her hit single You Don't Love Me (No, No, No) in front of other celebrities including Nicki Minaj, Jamie Foxx, Chris Brown and other known A-listers. Performing alongside Dawn Penn were other international reggae stars including Beenie Man, Chaka Demus & Pliers and more.
- 2005 "2nd Coming" (Album) feat Ced-Gee on Fattjointz
- 2006 "Themes Volume One (Actions & Emotions)" (Album) on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2006 "Themes Volume Two (Impact & Adventures)" (Album) on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2014 "Themes Volume Three (Music For TV Adverts)" (Album) on Digital Jukebox Records
- 1991 "Feel The Force (Sure Shot Dope Tracks Pt1)" – The Wheel Compilation
- 1992 "Fax on Wax" (12 inch Single) on Kickin Records
- 1992 "Chapter One" on Kold Sweat Records
- 1998 "Money & Gunz" on Fatt Jointz
- 2002 "With Fx" (12 inch Single) on Fatt Jointz
- 2003 "Hot For You" (12 inch Single) By Warren Stacey (Produced by Mark Anthony Duffus)
- 2006 "What Is Rap" on Fatt Jointz/Digital Jukebox Records
- 2007 "A Time 4u" on Fatt Jointz
- 2008 "The Situation" on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2009 "U Gotta Give" on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2010 "How U Like" on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2010 "What is Rap (feat Afrika Bambaataa) on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2012 "Back in love" By Joyce Sims feat Afrika Bambaataa (Produced by Mark Anthony Duffus)
- 2012 "Closer" on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2013 "What the F## Pt.1" on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2014 "Butterflies (World Peace)" feat Afrika Bambaataa on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2015 "Dreaming" By Joyce Sims From the album entitled Love Songs (Produced by Mark Anthony Duffus)
- 2015 "Want You" By Funk Division on Digital Jukebox Records (Produced by Mark Anthony Duffus)
- 2015 "The Lowdown" on Digital Jukebox Records
- 2016 "Think About You" By Fonda Rae feat Blak Prophetz on Digital Jukebox Records (Produced by Mark Anthony Duffus)
- 2016 "Tell Me Something" By Funk Division on Digital Jukebox Records (Produced by Mark Anthony Duffus)
- Slater, John (August 1991). "Hip Hop Connection". Hip Hop Connection (31). p. 46.
- http://www.discogs.com/Various-Ruff-N-Ready-The-Wheel-Compilation/release/4123202 "The Wheel Project" Cat No – SRT90L2699 | 1990 | A2 – Audio Kings – The Sure Shot Dope Tracks Pt 1
- Morris, Steve (March 1991). "Reviews". Brum Beat (123). p. 15.
- Mayor, John (30 May 1991). "Mixmag Reviews". Mixmag (186).
- Chandler, Steve (18 May 1991). "Echoes Magazine". Echoes (magazine) (Echos). p. 19.
- Westwood, Tim (9 May 1998). "Reviews". Echoes (magazine) (Code of the Streets).
- Grogan, Kenny (24 April 1992). "Mixmag Reviews". Mixmag (230). p. 13.
- Max, Tee (16 May 1998). "Blak Attack". Echoes (magazine) (Code of the Streets). p. 12.
- Lewis, Mike (November 1998). "Hip Hop Connection". Hip Hop Connection (HHC). p. 14.
- http://www.firstexperiencerecords.com/product-detail/CD+Albums/57/Avex/Soul+Essentials+6/Various+Artists/cd/3211 Track 10 | The WS Project "Hot For You" Produced by Sure Shot
- Proctor, Ryan (October 2005). "Blues & Soul". Blues & Soul (954).
- Tadah (28 May 2005). "2nd Coming Review". Urban Smarts Reviews. UrbanSmarts.com. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
- http://www.mentos.com/?tld=com "Mentos Fruity 3 (High Rider) TV Commercial
- Luckings, Loriann (January 2005). "Notion Magazine". Notion (magazine) (2 – The New Year's Edition).
- Slater, John (November 1991). "Hip Hop Connection". Hip Hop Connection (34). p. 47.
- http://www.theafronews.eu/entertainment/1505-joyce-sims-back-with-love.html Joyce Sims "Back In Love" produced by Soul Garden
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 August 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-31. " Mark Duffus, Producer
- Smith, Karl. "Blak Prophetz – What The F## pt1". TheHipHop-Foundation.com. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Krishnamurthy, Sowmya. "BET Awards Reggae Set: Elephant Man, Beenie Man Make Nicki Minaj Go Nuts". MTV. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- Official website
- Impact Global Magazine, USA - Issue One - 07/2016
- Global Mentos Fruity 3 (High Rider) TV/Cinema Advert
- The Record Label
- The Hip Hop Foundation Review/Article on What the F## Pt.1 – Single
- Heroes of UK Hip Hop
- With Fx Review
- German Review/Article
- Rago Magazine[permanent dead link]
- Urbansmarts Review