This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at Sonicrampage.org.
Another thing that's worth downloading is a live set from a London party called Heatwave vs Mas Fuego a couple weeks ago, featuring a girl named Chann from Suncycle (I have no idea who they are, but she seemed decent) and No Lay from West London's Unorthodox Family, who is probably, in my opinion, the best female mc in the London grime scene. Her track on Run the Road, 'Unorthodox Daughter', was possibly the best tune on the whole compilation. She turns up about 45 minutes in and flows over dancehall and grime, while also moaning about the name grime, which seems to be common among a lot of these artists. Grime is a cool name, still calling it garage just seems absurd (you could still maybe draw a link back to Larry Levan's Paradise Garage from some of the fluffy 2-step, but now? No.) and all of the other names I've heard suck. Grime sounds underground, real, blah blah blah. Anyways, whatever, you can download the set at the Scandal Bag site here. It's worth grabbing some of the other downloads as well, especially Riko's dancehall set if you haven't heard it yet.
I've forgotten to mention that Paul Meme and John Eden have posted a fantastic new mix of some of the biggest dancehall riddims of the last couple of years. Go here to read Paul's write-up and here for John's write-up, then download it and enjoy.
I'm still awake from writing Dubai Fresh, so here's a few tunes for Memorial Day. With melodies n' all!
J Majik - Your Sound - The apotheosis of the mid-90's hardstep aesthetic. A double-layered melodic attack of sweeping strings and wobbly electronics (a sonic reproduction of the joys of cookie dough ice cream) slides sweetly over absolutely tearin' Amen drums. Simple but devastating sub-bass - this was before No U-Turn made midrange basslines that sounded killer on home stereo systems all the rage. It's incredible that this was made when J Majik was only (if I'm remembering right) 16 or 17 years old. One of my favorite things about this is the way that by simply removing and reintroducing the melody the entire feel of the track changes in an instant, like covering your eyes with both hands and then suddenly pulling them away. This is one of those tracks that reminds you of how wonderful, how truly life-affirming, the Golden Era of Jungle/Drum n' Bass was (I capitalize because that's what it deserves).
Doc Scott - Tokyo Dawn - Here's another tune along similar lines, from the first Earth compilation that LTJ Bukem. Doc Scott's output from the period is mostly remembered for darkside monsters like the alltime anthem 'Shadow Boxing' as well as a host of lesser-known but still brilliant tracks like 'Swarm' and 'March', but he also was quite handy at more melodic tracks. This is a particularly choice example of this other side of his production skills. Despite playing a major role in popularizing hyper-fast robofunk boom-bap two-step beats, Doc Scott has always been skilled at chopping up the beats, and here he provides a vintage lesson in carving up the classic Amen break. He then meshes this furiously torn-apart beat with the deep-space atmospherics that LTJ Bukem's labels became famed for (unfortunately they later descended into noodly jazz-funk nonsense, so the less said the better), overlayed with drifting pads and undergirded by a warmly funky 808 pulse bass. Lovely stuff.
Wax Doctor - Cool Breeze - Great tune off of the awesome Moving Shadow compilation cd, 'The Revolutionary Generation', which for my money was one of the great mid-90's dnb releases. Wonderful rolling breaks, that were complex enough to be engaging and fun, but simple enough to be danceably non-chinstroke. All complete with nice female vocal sample and tasty housey melody.
This is a set that I've been listening to a lot recently. It's a couple months old now, but it's one of the best distillations of a certain grime vibe that I'm really into. This really spacey and cold sound that is not quite as empty as dubstep, but that is still defiantly alien and flat-out weird, and with less of the hip-hop affectations of a lot of other grime. Winter sounds.
Don't have the time for a proper post, so why not some links?
Fresh Dizzee Rascal/Grit Boys collabo up at Lemon-Red. Too strange to hear Dizzee screwed n' chopped. If you still haven't heard it, you have to check out the set they were on together in Houston last month.
U Mean Competitor. Michael McDonald, Dipset, and disturbing gifs...can you really ask for more? I've also been swapping music with Matt, the man behind the madness. Yousendit is the digital era's 6th grade tape-swapping.
Cool interview with Rinse FM's DJ Distance at Gutterbreakz. Also including a mix! Nice.
Martin Clark on the month in grime & dubstep in Pitchfork.
I've also updated my links bar at the side to include people who've graciously linked to me plus other music blogs I've been reading and enjoying. If you want even more links, you can check out my public bloglines account which has a frankly silly amount of stuff to read.
All the pictures on this post were taken from a Harderfaster photoset by Joeyxx of a party called Obsession at Happy Jack's in London Bridge, January 2004. It was an awesome party, and the pictures are really nice, so I re-sized them for blogging purposes. Clicking on any of the pics will take you to a larger version. The mp3's are arranged in order of ascending madness.
CJ Bolland - Camargue - Swooning old skool classic from CJ Bolland, one of the great heroes of dance music history. The stomping beats are sweetened by a lovely keyboard line, sweeping strings, and a fantastic house b-line.
Hardfloor - Safety Razor - Hardfloor are the German lords of acid, and this, a track from their superb 'Jack the Box' mix cd, is nothing more than a thumping kick, some writhing hi-hats, and an endless succession of hypnotically squelching 303 madness. Beautiful simplicity.
Yves Deruyter - Outsiders (Original Mix) - Here's another track from a Belgian. Belgium may be considered a 'boring' country, but if you like the pounding end of dance music as much as I do, then you know that the Belgians have been absolutely instrumental in the development of European club/rave music over the last twenty years. This is an awesome tune, a real teeth-grinding analogue barrage.
Jon Doe - Warehouse 2002 (Hard Mix) - Hammering bass nu-nrg with one of the best riffs I've ever heard, a conventional hoover riff that's been scratched-up and laid over the stomping kick and bass. Pretty pacy stuff, too, because this was the last track on my 'Rampage Audio 4' mix cd that I did a couple years back, so, since at the time I always jacked up the speed towards the end of cd's this is over 160 bpm.
Lab 4 - Stungun - Hyper-speed madness from Oxford's Lab 4. This is yer dystopian futurescape, for real.
None of the pictures on this post have anything to do with East London or grime. Just sayin'.
31st St & Queens Plaza, Long Island City
Wiley - (They Can't Get Along With) Wiley - This is the vocal version of 'New Era', which is the remix of the Wiley classic 'Ice Pole'. It's a classic Wiley beat, strange 80's squiggles rubbing up against a grunting bass over a rhythm so sparse it's like a digital representation of the Arizona desert. Or something. Moving swiftly on this beat is pretty similar to a bunch of other tunes ('Dragon Stout' and 'Ice Cream Man' in particular) that Wiley was making late 2004, eight-bar switch-ups that juxtaposed oddly bouncy 80's-style synth work with clankingly choppy beats and bass. The sort of stuff that has driven a generation of music critics to reach deep into their minds to claw out the phrase 'dystopian futurescapes'. I, of course, boycott such tactics. Anyways, this track is already a bit of a time capsule because Wiley, being The Supreme Dude that he is, seems to have moved on to a new style pretty much straight away, at least if new tracks like 'Sidewinder' and 'Top Producer' are anything to go by. Nonetheless, this is an excellent, excellent beat, hitting several different sonic pleasure centers at once by being cheerfully silly and ruffff at the same time. Above it Wiley does his "I'm the top boy" lyrical thing, which is nothing new, but entertaining as ever. I always enjoy Wiley's mc'ing. He's not the world's finest technical mc (he certainly couldn't tie the shoelaces of, say, the best New York mc's), but he always sounds so distinctively himself, so commanding and so in control. And fun too, which in this era is something to be thankful for.
Essentials - Fire Tramp - This track, which is Essentials laying into Lethal B and Fire Camp for nicking one of their hooks for Fire Camp's 'No' tune, is taken from Remerdee's 'Public Demand Vol. 1' mixtape. What's the mixtape like? It's ok. Not amazing, not terrible, somewhere in-between. There's some really good stuff, though, and this track in particular is a real standout. The beat is a completely insane new version of 'Bongo Eyes', which was Bossman's own massive mashup of Davinche's 'Eyes On You' with Youngstar's 'Bongo'. This takes it to an entirely new level of electro freakout furiosity. It's amazing. If the 'electroclash' scene had been making beats like this, it (1) wouldn't have sucked anywhere near as much, and (2) it wouldn't have been over the moment Vice Magazine got bored of it. On a vocal level, this is mainly notable for how rantingly pissed off Essentials sound. Apparently (this is according to some thread I read on the RWD Forum, so don't take this as the gospel) Lethal B called them up when 'No' was getting released to offer Davinche (their producer) the chance to do a remix where some of the Essentials mc's could appear alongside the Bizzle, but they turned him down. Remember, though, RWD Forum. This could be a complete lie. Anyways, Essentials are one of my favorite London crews. None of their mc's are real stand-outs, or at least none of them I'd say are in the top tier of London mc's, but as a crew they work brilliantly together on every radio rip I've heard of them or on the little showcase performance that they did on the Aim High 2 dvd. A lot of energy, a lot of commitment, and a lot of team work. Anyways, on a lyrical flow level this tune is pretty decent, but the main reason to check it is the ridonkulous beat.
Franklin Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Durrty Goodz - Freestyle - As disappointing as the Titch/J2K/Cameo show here in NYC ten days ago was, the London guys were quite entertaining, and I managed to grab some freebies, including Crazy Titch's Crazy Times Vol. 1 cd/dvd (I went up to Titch after they finished and asked for it, and he gave it to me, which was nice), which is where I got this track from. The dvd is pretty decent, following Titch around to performances, the barbers, his mom's house, on holiday, all that sort of stuff. It's always good to get free stuff. This freestyle is by Durrty Goodz, who is Titch's older step-brother (I'm pretty sure they're step-brothers, anyways). He used to be called Durrty Doogz, which was a way better name, but for reasons unknown about a year ago he changed it to Goodz. Who knows the minds of men? Anyways, he's sort of gone silent for the last little while, and apparently he is now working on an album chocka-block of UK hip-hop/dancehall, which is a bit of a bummer. Do grime! Anyways, he's a very good mc, and he has an awesomely, hilariously distinctive voice. Imagine if Disney, at some point, did a movie with a cartoon Jamaican dog; if said hypothetical cartoon yarda doggie were to mc, they'd sound like Goodz. Although this is pretty cool, in the end it's just a freestyle over a hip-hop beat, which is not earth-shatteringly exciting. Actually, I was wondering if any of you reader types could help me out and tell me where the beat is from? I swear to God I recognize it as being originally from something American, but I just can't seem to place it. Anyone know?
a temple in Tokyo
J2K - The Return - And this is a track from the other freebie I wrangled at that show, J2K's 'Heat in the Streets Vol. 2'. It's pretty much straight-forward UK Hip-Hop. Nice beat, though, and Jay does his thing. I like it, but there's not a huge amount to say. Worth a listen, though, faithful readers.
Me (far right) with a bunch of friends at Dancevalley, Holland, August 2001. There were 100,000 people at that event...sheer lunacy! I'm not looking pleased in the pic because by that point of the day I'd managed to fry my corpse-white skin to a nice shade of lobster.
Ears - Fine Fine - This is off the stupidly good new Bossman 'Street Anthems Vol. 2' mix cd. Ears is Jammer's 17 year-old prodigy, who tore it down when they were over here in New York a couple months ago (as much as anyone can tear down a room of twenty-something white hipsters folded-arms like 'impress me'). This tune is quite tasty, with Ears dropping his hottest rhymes about how he is basically a new era of dudeness over a snap-crackle-pop rhythm and little siren and horn stabs provided by (I think) Jammer. Nothing more needs to be said.
All photos on this post were taken by Eric Luk during our trip to Finland, July 2003.
Carbon Based - Real Stuff - This is a slightly less frantic offering than usual, clocking in at a (relatively) restrained 160 bpm. After a functional and dj-friendly intro, they drop in a quirky little riff, a plip-plopping ghost of Eurodance past. Then they drop the main riff, which is a shimmery Eurotrance riff. This is quite a trancey tune, perhaps one of the most conventionally trancey that they've done. It's not as hard charging as most of their stuff, preferring to float along instead. As ever with their music, there are layers upon layers of sound within the track, lots of little details to idly pick out as it pumps from your headphones.
Carbon Based & Nemes - Charmed Dreams - Carbon Based hook up with Nemes, another excellent Finnish dj/producer, for this strange and haunting track. Opening with haunting strings and a strange distortion line winding around the rock-solid kick, it quickly drops into the bassline and a filtered synth line that twists around the kick like snake to the flute of the snake charmer. There's some awesome synth work on this, all twisting and turning over the simple snap-snap of the rhythm, including a particular awesome breakdown, where odd distorted noises, deep bass drops, and the main staccato riff intersect at strange angles before snapping apart again. Not a head-banger, more a chin-stroker, or at least as much as anything can be at 175 bpm! This is the sort of tune that should be sound-tracking sci-fi chase sequences.
So, anyways, that's the last write-up I'm going to do on the blog, I'll be doing some more for the Finrg Digital site when that launches.
Still want more? Why not check out the recent mix from Drumhead (aka Teemu Lahtinen from CB) for a bunch of new Finnish and British freeform hardcore tunes?
Drumhead - Freeform Weapon Warfare
01. Re-form - Intro [CD-R]
02. Shanty, Tazz & Loopy - Maximum (Carbon Based Remix) [Electronic]
03. Pain On Creation - Thru 2 Secrets [FINRG Hard]
04. DJ RX - Liberator [FINRG Hard]
05. Alek Száhala - Dryard Machine [FINRG Hard]
06. Carbon Based - Tuonela [FINRG Hard]
07. Nomic - Last Aurora [CD-R]
08. Alek Száhala - Ashurnishishi [Camel Records]
09. Dougal & Gammer - Crackwhore [Essential Platinum]
10. Nomic - You Have a Dream [CD-R]
11. K Complex - adagio [Nu Energy]
12. Alek Száhala - Anmitzcuaca [Electronic]
Want more more more? Links time.
Also, check out Sessions2 for party pics, video clips, and other stuff.
That's it for now, I'll upload some grime tomorrow to please you, my beloved readers.
The Mexican - Land of the Pharaohs (Carbon Based RMX) - This track opens with some lovely melancholy pads. That's one thing the Finns seem particularly adept at within this style of music, evoking a complex range of emotions. Most English hard dance/hardcore is usually gogogogo mad-eyed joy, occassionally hoods-up darkside terror, but the Finns manage to draw something more complex from their machines, that weird intersection between joy and sadness, between ecstasy and fear. This track quickly kicks into a nice jagged riff, glittering from the rhythmic bed of the track like smashed car window glass on a sidewalk late at night. Then into the breakdown, where a fantastically incongruous Middle Eastern melody rubs up against some nicely sweeping synth vamps, which then cuts out into the main riff. It's a familiar arpeggiated trance riff, yet there's something about it that sets it out from so many of the other millions that I've heard. Although it seems to replicate the usual arms-aloft euphoria, there's this weird edge of dread to it; a clenched-teeth, eyes-shut kind of power.
DOK - Mental Ward (Carbon Based RMX) - This is where Carbon Based take DOK's darkside freeform classic and strip it down and charge it up, Suomi-style. If the original version was a mean-assed Harley Davidson of a tune, all gutteral roars and thundering engines, this remix is a souped-up Superbike of a tune. A coming-out party for all the little synth tricks they have up their sleeves, this tune is a compilation of some of the most intense digital riffage ever concocted. Furiously unstoppable energy. It fires through the speakers like a missile. Describing it is almost pointless...what more is there to say than that they bettered a classic?
Carbon Based - Dark Side - Straight into a pounding off-beat bass and choppy percussion, this one only takes about 40 seconds to get into a classic Carbon Based spider-riff, skittering across the track. One of their most melodic tracks, this marries that familiarly skeletal skitter to a melody that starts as a simple up-and-down plucked riff before, in the breakdown, building and building into an epic, sweeping, soaring, insert your own adjective, explosion of joy. What I love about this track is that it keeps shifting the emotion, alternating between a holding-pattern glide and the diving headfirst off a mountain madness of the main section. This is one of the most conventionally trancey tunes they've done, which is, of course, no bad thing. You are a sick and joyless person if you hate all trance.
More Finnish madness.
Carbon Based & DJ Rx - Reptile - A Lahti hometown heroes showdown as Carbon Based hook up with DJ Rx (left), one of Finland's most popular hard dance dj's. Rock-solid kick-drummed intro with the spiraling synths starting early. The Finns are experts at the use of a particular style of synth riffs; they use this arpeggiated synth noise that seems to skitter over the rhythm like a horde of digital spiders across a floor. They are also big fans of the traditional 303/acid sound, which they use to particularly diseased effect in the intro here. That's no problem for me, because there is, for me, no noise like it. It draws out powerful, powerful emotions within me. After a couple bars of distorted breaks right at the start of the break, the main riff drops and it's a nicely filtered trance effort. Then, you know, a snare roll, massive massive build in intensity, then the drop into silence, a little rising acid line and BAM! Back into the beat. Textbook stuff, but always a beautiful and powerful thing.
Carbon Based - Underworld Species - Epic opening, like the winter sun rising over one of the thousands of Finnish lakes. A slow, stuttering rhythm creaks into action beneath the sweeping pads; the quiet before the storm. Then suddenly that drops out and, unprepared by the calm of before, the kick and twirling bass launch into action. Soon they are joined by an insistent one-note riff, that one ray of light, the tip of a lit cigarette waving in the corner of a dark room. Then a classic spider-riff rifles snarlingly in, leering over the beat with the knowledge that, when if you're there when it's 170 bpm, you are one of the committed. Then, of course, the breakdown, which sees the reprise of the intro, but with the addition of a couple more layers of riffology. The ticking sound of a night winding down, the sound of an early morning, dancing in the rising light, forcing yourself through a wall of exhaustion to keep moving. Epic and beautiful, this track, perhaps more than anything else they've done, expertly balances the light and dark within the Finnish sound.
For the rest of the week I'm going to be doing write-ups for my friends at Finrg, Scandinavia's number one hard dance/freeform hardcore label. They are launching a new digital download site soon, so I'm doing my little bit to help them out.
The Finns are, right now, the number one in the world at making turbo-charged dance music. I've been meaning to get around to doing a full write-up ever since I started this music blog, but every time I've sat down to do it I've felt like there was way way way too much to say, so I haven't done it. Sad but true.
If you want a bit of background/context, check out my old "The Speed of Sound" post for a bit of history and explanation of what freeform hardcore is (ie manically fast multi-layered hard-trancey acid-flecked yumminess). If you want to know a bit more about Carbon Based themselves, check out their site, as well as an interview that I did with them when my good friend Eric Luk and I went out there in the summer of 2003. Man, I have some stories to tell about that trip! You might also enjoy the videos at Sessions 2.
As ever when I write about this type of music, every write-up is going to be done in the style in which I wrote up my review of their 'Straight Out of Finland EP'. No sociology, no history, no nothing, just straight up what it sounds like and whatever weird metaphors I can pick out of my head.
Carbon Based - The Choice - Slowly revolving synth to open, then snap-crackle-pop percussive loop into twisty bass. Slower than a lot of their other stuff, but still pumping. As the kick comes in there's a nice juxtaposition of the icy fairground melody with some weird detuned stabs. Like most of the other Finnish stuff, it slowly builds in intensity as new layers are added, like a graffiti artist building a piece on a wall. Then into the breakdown, with its plaintive, one-note echoey chord giving way, slowly slowly, to a sugary sweet riff that cuts in like Nordic sunshine over a crippled breakbeat. Then, instead of building and building in the traditional style into a massive snare roll, the track abruptly drops back into the kick with a sudden whomp. Keeping it simple for a while with a straight-forward acidy riff and no bassline and an odd sound seemingly dredged from the early 1990's rave scene. Then the tranceyness slowly filters back in as the track kicks itself back up again, layers twisting over each other, your ears navigating the maze of sound.
Carbon Based - Painkiller - Simple dj mix intro into a gnarly bassline that always makes me think of someone frantically tearing off flower petals. I know I have an overactive imagination, it's just that it sounds like someone is ripping pieces off of it even as you hear it. Sample time ("I was hallucinating, there was a blind spot in my head") then a detuned riff saws through the mix with strange industrial sounds flickering in the background. The whole thing sounds submerged, like a dark room somewhere deep beneath the city, blanketed by smoke and strobes. Breakdown time and the main riff comes in, ultra-insistent, a revolving two-step juggernaut. As it kicks back in it reminds you of those tracks you'd hear late late late at night, mad staring eyes looking out across the mutant aerobics on the dancefloor. Fiercely pummeling sound and energy, the whole thing compressed together like a renegade dark star sucking up light itself. Lacking in a memorable main riff like a lot of hard dance, this simply pummels you into submission.
Riko from Roll Deep joins the blogosphere.
Besides Cameo, Crazy Titch and J2K, who were pretty good despite everything, it was not very good.
No battle as far as I could tell.
Totally wrong wrong wrong venue. It was super-plush Guido-esque (you know what I mean, I'm not insulting Italians...my 'ethnic background' is German and Irish, so I'm in no position to talk!) and didn't seem right at all. There were even tables with little candles on them ffs!
Pretty much empty.
Besides the set from the London guys, the rest of the music bounced all over the place and seemed kind of unfocused. Way too much four-to-the-floor and 2-step UKG, which doesn't work with grime. Straight dancehall and hip-hop would have been better.
It just didn't work.
A good example of why I almost never go out to clubs in New York, because it almost always sucks, and I end up filling my time drinking more than I should.
This one's for Hecticblog. Shystie's album from last year, 'Diamond in the Dirt', was ok, but had too much hip-hop. Why is it when grime mc's get signed, they then do lots of hip-hop on their albums? Stop it! Anyways, these are good.
Shystie feat. Crazy Titch, J2K & Katie Pearl - Make It Easy (Davinche RMX) - Davinche rebuilds 'Make It Easy' into a bass-throbbing, string-stabbing epic, with Titch and J2K doing their thing as well. Awesome.
Shystie feat. Lady Fury's Mum - Murderation - Shockingly personal attack, replying to Lady Fury's diss. It's all in the little details on this, like sampling Lady Fury's mom calling up to complain about a previous Shystie diss or cutting back to where she got booed off stage at a Sidewinder rave. Harsh harsh stuff, but since I'm thousands of miles away and will never meet either of these girls, I can get all voyeuristic and find it funny. I wouldn't mess with this chick.
Tomorrow J2K and Crazy Titch, two of London's leading grime mc's, will be here in New York City with BBC 1xtra's DJ Cameo, which should be too much fun. I'll be there, at the back, sipping beers, and contemplating a review for Riddim, which I'll write up Sunday or Monday. Only $5 before 1am, which you can hardly complain about. It's at Crash Mansion on the Bowery on the Lower East Side.
Crazy Titch & Keisha - Gully - Titch does his shouting thing with (improbably) Keisha from London pop rnb crew The Sugababes over a beat from Alias. A nice combo of Titch's shouting and sweet rnb style vocals over flickering percussion, a nice stalker-ish string riff and a whomping bass that sounds pretty nasty even through these headphones (no soundsystem for me!). I love beats like the one used on this track, they sound really thin when set against the heavy bass, like anorexic electro. This is off Bossman's 'Street Anthems Vol. 2' mix cd, which is really really good. I'll be reviewing it for Riddim tomorrow. You can get it from Rhythm Division like I did.
J2K - Exclusive Freestyle - This is off Aim High 2, which is generally awesome. J2K is mostly a Hip-Hop mc, and this is him going on about his shitty, stressful life over a very slowly snapping beat. One of the highlights of the entire mixtape.
Crazy Titch - Freestyle - Crazy Titch does his shouting thing over a hip-hop beat by DJ Target. Dude is always shouting, but has a lot of character. The quality is fairly crappy, as I ripped this off a Logan Sama Kiss FM show a while back, from when he was guesting. This is quite a conscious effort compared to a lot of his other stuff. Not sure if this has come out, it might have been on the mixtape for his Crazy Times dvd, but I'm not too sure (cos I don't have it). It's good, though.
Wiley feat. Breeze, J2K & Riko - Pick U R Self Up - Wiley and a bunch of others do their self-help thing over an unusually light Wiley beat. His beats usually sound like they've been beamed in directly from outer space, whereas this one just sounds like a robot trying to recreate a Tribe Called Quest record. From Wiley's first album 'Treddin' On Thin Ice', which has apparently only sold a grand total of about a thousand copies in the entire United States. Oh ye fools, soon you will learn!
Since I mentioned Nine's lost classic 'Cloud Nine' in my previous post (go download that mp3, trust me, it's worth it!), I figured I should talk about another old(ish) hip-hop album that seems to have disappeared in collective memory, but that I still listen to and enjoy. The Brotherhood were a rap group from North London (DJ Dexter and mc's Shylock and Spice) that hooked up with the producer Trevor Jackson (aka The Underdog), who is better known today for his work in Playgroup. After being signed to Virgin in Britain in the mid-90's they dropped their one and only album, 'Elementalz', in 1996. Even today it is one of the (few) landmark albums in UK Hip-Hop, a true classic. It was also one of the first proper full-length UK Hip-Hop albums where the mc's actually rhymed in their own accents, not fake American accents. If you ever see a copy, it's definitely worth picking up. The mc's are really good, and the production is just amazing. Drawing on his diverse musical history, Trevor Jackson created a broad sonic canvas for the mc's to do their thing over. That's about all that I know, as there seems to be little info online about The Brotherhood, so here are some mp3's for you to check out:
I'm trying to wrassle a piece for Pearsall's Books into shape, so I'll drop the Nasty Crew weed carriers piece tomorrow night. In the meantime, here's Bounty Killer over some hip-hop beats. I recently realized that I can actually understand what he's saying a lot of the time now, which pleases me quite a bit.
Nine feat. Bounty Killer - Warriors - This is from an album that I think has been chronically slept on, Nine's Cloud Nine, which I got when it came out off the back of a very good review in XXL (I think). It's a bit of a lost classic, because Nine (with his crazily gruff flow) soon disappeared. I rarely see it mentioned anywhere, but I've always thought it was a really really excellent piece of classic mid-90's New York rap. If you ever see it in a second-hand store, buy it! Trust me, you won't be disappointed. Anyways, this track, as you'll see when you download it, is awesome. Nine may be one of the few people on earth to have a harsher voice than Bounty Killer, and they combine fantastically over some nice sampled Chinese strings and a classic boom-bap.
Bounty Killer - Eyes A Bleed (Rza RMX) - This is a random mp3 acquisition I picked up a while ago. It's from Wu Chronicles II, which was I guess some kind of Wu-Tang Clan related compilation, but basically it's Bounty Killer riding one of Rza's beats. Can't argue with that.
Bounty Killer feat. Junior Reid & Busta Rhymes - Change Like the Weather - This off Bounty Killer's 1996 album My Xperience, which was his first major label release in the US. This track features reggae legend Junior Reid and New York hip-hop hero Busta Rhymes (this being back when he was consistently good) along with Bounty Killer over a classic Erick Sermon beat
As a companion to my aging mixtape roundup at Riddim, here's some tracks from a couple of the mixtapes that I reviewed.
Bashy - My Manor - from 'Ur Mum Vol. 1'
Essentials - Shut Down Shop - from 'Street Anthems Vol. 1'
Breeze - Marchin' On - from 'DJ Target presents Aim High Vol. 2'
OD404 - Magnecor - (from Rampage Audio 3) Solid rumbling off-beat bass into slightly 1950's sound effects deep back in the mix. Lots of little edits and fills, as is usual with Superfast Oz & Dom Sweeten when they're on it. Gigantic breakdown...gated riff over synth washes. Hairs up the back of the neck moment in a dark room. I remember playing this at an illegal rave I played in 2002 in a barn outside Prestonpans in East Lothian, right as the sun was coming up. Big moment.
Helix & Fury - Sanctus Dominus - This is from the DJ Ramos mix cd off a compilation called 'Off Yet Nut!' (the other two cd's were terrible happy hardcore mixes). Opens with the mix out from 'Lemonade Raygun', queasy strings slowly fading out. Doom-laden "let us pray" sample. Simple tick-tocking bassline, driving into flashing alarm synths, snare-rolling into savage 303 line.
Alek Szahala - Firecloud - So bezerk I don't even need to say anything about it. So fast you'll swear you are hallucinating. When the main riff kicks in...phew. Big up Finland!
So the Roll Deep album 'In At The Deep End' is dropping on May 30th, which is just over three weeks away. They were originally supposed to be releasing an album last year ('Rollin Deeper') but that got leaked and bootlegged mercilessly, and so they went back in the studio to redo it.
Some of you may be asking who Roll Deep are. Understandable. They are, bar none, the biggest crew in the entire grime scene (if you don't know what grime is, cos you've just dropped by, have a look at Jess Harvell's excellent primer for Pitchfork, although I'm actually going to be writing my own primer for Riddim.ca when we relaunch the site). Dizzee Rascal was a member for a while when he was younger, but he left after his album launched him into the stratosphere. Despite losing him Roll Deep, led by the grime overlord Wiley, have only consolidated their status as the dons of the scene. Their album should be a major event. Or maybe it will flop. Either way I'm excited about it.
Anyways, there'll be plenty more biographical stuff on them in the British press over the coming weeks, so I don't really need to get into that stuff at the moment. But if you want to get started, check out Sean Downes' introduction to (some of) the mc's at Government Names. On with the mp3's!
Trim - The Lowdown - Trim (aka Taliban Trim, Trimothy, Trimble, etc) emerged last year and instantly blew up the scene. Coming seemingly from nowhere (well, prison) he joined Roll Deep and started smashing up radio and raves with his unique voice and flow. For me, he's the best mc in grime. This tune is a collection of his various slewings over the 'Fire Hydrant' riddim, tearing into Stormin, Cell 22 and Major Ace. Too much.
Roll Deep - No More - This is from the leaked version of the Roll Deep album and hasn't made it on to the actual release version. A lot of people have bitched about Roll Deep doing slower, less grimey stuff, and sometimes it's been a fair criticism, but this is a lovely tune, with Wiley, Breeze and Brazen speaking sense over a rather lovely track. Yeah, I grabbed this off Soulseek. Why lie?
Scratchy - Freestyle - This is off Creeper Vol. 1, which hasn't come out yet. Again, Soulseek. Here is Scratchy riding one of Wiley's beats. Not sure what beat this is. Scratchy's a dude.
Da Cream - Moving (DJ Target Remix) - This isn't Roll Deep, but I'm posting it because it's a classic Target beat. Target is one of Roll Deep's three main producers (along with Danny Weed and Wiley) and over the last six months or so him and Danny Weed have been perfecting this odd accordion-flecked Gypsybot style of grime. This particular tune is a rip from a BBC 1xtra show, and is a forthcoming single to raise funds for tsunami relief, featuring a stack of different London mc's and one of the girls from Mis'Teeq. Massive beat.
DJ Garna - Sword Stylee (feat. Manga & Krafty) - This is a tune I ripped out of a Manic FM radio set that I grabbed off the RWD forum last week. Manga is one of the new boys in Roll Deep and he has a totally unique skippy flow. This is just him and someone named Krafty over one of DJ Garna's productions. This is a seriously seriously big tune. I love darkside bass monsters like this. It's like a slow version of one of the No U-Turn tunes that blew my mind apart when I was 16. *swoon*
You might also want to check out the video for 'When I'm Ere' (real media).
Also, Christ, grime stores need to step up their game. I was thinking of ordering four mixtapes from UKRecordShop.com and when I got to the checkout I found out that postage would be 15 pounds!!!! For four cd's!!!! That's completely ridiculous. When I lived in Britain I'd often sell records overseas and usually 4 records to the US would cost about 7-8 pounds. 4 cd's would be even less. If these people want to grow their business internationally they need to actually charge sane postage rates for their products and not try to gouge the fuck out of people. Look at Juno and Chemical, they do huge business internationally by charging reasonable postage rates and plus they don't charge VAT for non-EU buyers. Sorry, needed to get that off my chest.
B.A.R.S. 2 is one of the most recent efforts in the burgeoning UK underground music dvd scene. Produced by a crew calling themselves Low Budget TV their B.A.R.S. ("Black Arts Rule Streets") dvd series aims to cover all aspects of young black life in Britain. This marks it out from some of the other, more grime-focused, dvd's like 'Practice Hours' and 'Risky Roadz' that I've seen so far. Unlike those, which barely left a small part of the East London grime scene, in B.A.R.S. 2 the film-makers went out around England to interview people from both the UK hip-hop and grime scenes. They then mixed this footage up with street freestyles, street fights, club footage, going behind the scenes at music video shoots and interviews with people like Shaun Wallace, the first black winner of Mastermind, and Patrick Kluivert of Newcastle United.
One of the main things you notice when you watch this is how well it's put together. Right at the beginning the main guy behind LBTV, a dude named E. Monourver, is explaining how he's totally self-taught and how he started out just messing around, putting together footage for when his friend got out of jail. In this context this dvd is pretty impressive stuff. Digital technology has really leveled the playing field for aspiring documentary makers. The editing, sound, and camera work is, generally speaking, up to quite a high standard. The only technical problem is that on a couple of the interviews the sound drops out on one channel. I dunno if that's on all the copies, or just the one I got, or if it's some codec problem with my computer.
There's also quite a pleasing variety of stuff. There's a lot of UK Hip-Hop on here, which is cool to see because I don't keep up with that scene at all. I have to be honest and say that I don't really have much interest in UK Hip-Hop, because, well, I find it kind of boring. Still, though, it's kind of cool to get a little bit of a sense as to what is going on with that scene. On the grime tip there's not a huge amount (apparently there's going to be a lot more grime on volume 3), but there are a couple nice bits, like some freestyles from Kano and Ghetto of Nasty Crew (well, until the last couple weeks when they officially left), some club footage, and some interviews with people like Flow Dan from Roll Deep, a bunch of people from Nasty (Demon, Marcus Nasty, and Kano), and Mike Skinner's new signings the Mitchell Brothers, amongst others. There's also, let's be honest here, some segments on some pretty wack musicians, like Ipswich grime crew Hectic Squad (chorus to their tune: "What you know about Ips? We're the top boys in Ips". Christ.), some rap duo named Trics and Vics (they show a bit of one of their videos and NO LIE it is one of the worst things I've ever seen...Star Trek uniforms and all), but presumably you gotta work with who is willing to show up, and I figure that, based on how good a job they did making this, there should be some bigger and better people on the next volume. Even the interviews with the bad musicians are ok, because the LBTV crew keep things moving pretty briskly and you don't have to hear too much of their music. The only scene on the dvd that I think is a complete and utter waste of time is the bit where they are following the Newcastle United footballers Titus Bramble, Jermaine Jenas, and Keiron Dyer around on a night out as they get hassled by the paparazzi. It goes on for a while and it seems kind of pointless...like, I dunno, I'm not really surprised that professional athletes get followed around by photographers. Dudes are getting paid millions to kick a ball around and live out the fantasies of tens of millions of people. Of course there's going to be trade-offs. But that's a whole separate issue. Plus it doesn't seem to have that much to do with the music stuff that dominates the rest of the dvd, beyond the fact that these guys are actually living the lifestyle that all the music types are so desperately hungry for.
All in all, this is quite a good dvd. For someone looking for a total immersion grime experience, this ain't it, but it is cool as a general overview of the state of the black music scene in England. It's well paced, professionally shot, and slickly put together. Well done, and I'm looking forward to the third volume.
- A brief clip of Wiley mc'ing over jungle back in the day. Wearing a truly monstrous tracksuit top.
- A behind the scenes on the video shoot for Nikki Slimting's 'The Link Up' where an army of grime mc's got the chance to do a London version of the formulaic American 'hoochies in the pool, champagne in the glass' rap video. Cheesy but fun. The behind the scenes at Akon's video shoot in Peckham for the 'Ghetto' video is kind of cool as well.
- Some nice bits from a grime rave in Tottenham with Kano, Ghetto, and Wiley on the mic.
- Street fighting scenes. Nothing serious happens, just some shoving, some shouting, the odd flying fist, but nothing major. Fun in a voyeuristic way.
- The Mitchell Brothers interview. I thought 'Routine Check' was a bit meh as a single, but they seem like pretty sensible guys with some interesting stuff to say. The sort of people you'd be happy to have a beer with.
Cross-posted from Riddim.ca.
Johnny Cash - San Quentin - From his famous performance at California's San Quentin prison. Check that atmosphere.
David Drake's new podcast for Stylus.
At this point, I should probably mention the interview with Bizzy Bone from Cleveland's mid-90's rap heroes Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony that Matt 'HoustonSoReal' Sonzala did last week. It's pretty depressing stuff, though. That guy needs some help.
Two free new mixes at Gutterbreakz...can't argue with that!
This is just a stopgap post for the evening. A proper post is headed your way.
It's all a bit grim and grey outside where I am, how about some tunes to fit the mood?
Sabres of Paradise - Smokebelch II - A project of acid house hero Andrew Weatherall and his sidekicks Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns, the Sabres of Paradise released a couple of experimental techno albums in the early 90's. Along with a lot of the other acts on Warp Records they played an important role in creating today's bespectacly nerdy IDM ('intelligent dance music') scene. This is off their second album, 'Sabresonic II', and is one of their best known bits. Four minutes of blissfully delicate electronics, this was also remixed into a club classic by Belfast's David Holmes, who transformed it into a ten minute plus cosmic workout.
As One - Away From All Of This - Jazzy techno from Kirk DeGiorgio. That should be enough to send everyone running away screaming! Having said that, I've always thought this particular tune (from 1997's 'Planetary Folklore') was quite lovely.
Glamorous Hooligan - Tokyo Heartwash - Here's a tune off an album I picked up years and years ago that was called 'Wasted Youth Club Classics'. I think I read a review and an interview with them when it was released and decided to pick it up. I think the whole schtick was that these were dead 'ard council estate football hoolie types who also happened to make, er, trip-hop. Trip-hop, of course, was the early to mid 90's sound of someone staggering into a petrol station at 4 am to buy frozen pizzas, Pringles, Rizlas, and foodstuffs so mind-bendingly obscure that only the stoned could consume them. This tune is sort of ambient house and despite it's quite obvious deficiencies (ie it's cheesy as hell) I've always liked it. It's sort of saccharine melancholy. Ooh arr. The rest of the album is ok trip-hop, but since I haven't smoked a joint since I was 18 I guess I can't really fully appreciate it.
A Guy Called Gerald - The Nile - This, however, is pretty unambiguously awesome. A Guy Called Gerald is a Manchester musical legend, creator of the supreme acid house classic 'Voodoo Ray' and sizeable quantity of classic early jungle/drum n' bass, like 'Black Secret Technology', the album that I've pulled this track from. Although the mastering on my copy of this album is pretty horrendous (I bought the original release when it came out which was, Christ!, ten years ago) this album has really stood up to the passage of time and if you can source it I highly recommend it (probably the 1997 remastered version is a better bet). This track is a good example of the album, since basically everything on it is worth putting up, which was an early salvo in taking jungle away from strictly dancefloor mayhem to being something deeper and more powerful. Of course, it all went pear-shaped in the end, but this still sounds good, even if the mastering sounds positively Medieval when compared to today's ultra-compressed, super-clean head-bangin' dnb.