1989 saw Blade’s first release. A string of 12’s, ep’s and a massive double album followed, all of which were released on his own “691 INFLUENTIAL” label. Selling via mail order and on the streets, he amassed sales of up to 60,000 units.
Teaming up with producer Mark B was a departure for Blade. On the duo’s Hitmen For Hire EP, released in 1998, he allowed another man to produce the music he rapped on for the first time. The album they recorded together, The Unknown, remains one of the best selling LPs in UK rap history. They spent most of 2000 and 2001 on the road,. They even got to support Eminem, on his UK tour in 2001.
The album’s first single, You Don’t See The Signs, was re-recorded with a guest appearance from Grant Nicholas of Feeder, crash-landing in the top 20. Unfortunately, the label that had released The Unknown, the Virgin France-funded Source, wasn’t in a position to act. Internal restructuring meant that key people involved in the first record had left the company, and control of operations had reverted to the corporate parent. The only thing that was certain was that Blade and his new bosses did not see eye to eye and it was only a matter of time before they parted company.