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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.