Braintax is the recording name of Joseph Christie (born 1973), one of the most important and influential British hip hop artists of the second generation. He hails from Leeds, West Yorkshire, but now lives in London. He is founder (with Breaking the Illusion) and owner of Low Life Records, the longest running UK hip hop record label to consistently release records. Stylistically, Braintax is much closer to East Coast hip hop than to the hardcore rap of earlier British rappers like Hijack and Gunshot. He is also well known for his business savvy and prominent crow's feet, which he says adds an air of distinction to his face.
Braintax originally performed as a duo, but former member DJ T.E.S.T. left in the mid-1990s. T.E.S.T. only appeared on one official Braintax release - the 1992 debut EP, Fat Head. Christie retained the recording name and it has since become synonymous with him as a solo artist.
Though Christie had been involved in the underground breakdancing and rapping scenes for a number of years, his career effectively started with the release of the Fat Head EP. Perhaps most noted was track 5, "Talk About The Future," sampling Quincy Jones's "Summer In The City." The sample was used in response to American hip hop act The Pharcyde's use of it in its track "Passin Me By," from album Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. Braintax's lyrics reflected a maturity beyond his years and this track in particular was a sign of what was to come.
Throughout his career, Braintax's lyrics have been thoughful, hard hitting and reflective, ranging from politics to spirituality and the state of hip hop music to the war in Iraq. Decrying the fake posturing and the laziness of UK hip hop acts, Braintax, along with a slew of cohorts such as Blade, Harry Love and Lewis Parker, triggered a renaissance in the UK hip hop scene, both setting the pace and paving the way for new artists and labels. As well as the variation in production styles, the depth and complexity of Braintax's lyrics are a clue to his success. Though he may not like it, philosophical musings, such as those on "Oceans" (Biro Funk, 2001), on the essence of contentment and the struggle to find peace in the modern world, appeal to a wide audience and, significantly, a middle class audience. In any case, Braintax has been a pioneer of the renaissance in UK hip hop and remains heavily involved, constantly pushing the music forward: "If there is a point it should be that we benefit more from music we relate to than from that we just listen to."
Joe Christie has also recorded or appeared under the pseudonyms Brando Flux and Joey Brains.