This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at Sonicrampage.org.
Unorthodox Family & Nasty Crew on DJ Cameo's Pirate Sessions June 12th 2005 - Featuring the awesomely awesome Miss No Lay. This chick is amazing.
Also, check out Luca's interview with the Loganator of Sama at Riddim.
And the blog of Rinse FM's DJ Lioness, where you can download some sweet instrumental sets.
Man, I've fallen off on this music bloggery.
JME on Cameo's Pirate Sessions June 12th 2005 - Chat, a few tunes, and spitting some bars. Jyeah.
Purpology reviews Kano's new video Remember Me, which you can see at Kano's site. Bizarre enthusiasm levels for what is, how shall I say, a massive piece of shit. Easily the worst tune he's done. And der kinder agree! Only made 71 in the UK singles chart last week. Pfft. Why don't any of these people have faith in their own music? It's baffling. Salsa? I mean wtf. Enough venting.
Thoughts on some of the tunes:
- The God's Gift dub that opens the show, 'Only God Knows What I've Done', is pretty serious. Awesome production from Rapid, single orchestral stab and dubby bassline and choppy beat. Lyrically, well, is this, as they say, 4Real?
- The remix of 'Heartache Avenue' is so vastly better than the original that my brain hurts to even think about it.
- Shizzle 'I'll Be There For You' - Nice fluffy summer tune. A rare example of a lighter tune that doesn't sound like a poorly-executed cynical "let's make a softer tune for the ladies". Nice.
- Skepta is pretty dope for someone who has only been spitting seriously for about six months. Don't like the dub that Logan plays much (terrible beat), but 'Single' (which is over Wiley's 'Ice Cream Man') is quite good.
- Don't like the new Bruza tune 'So Real' much. Slow and soft doesn't really suit Bruza, he sounds better shouting over uptempo stuff. A few good lines, as usual, though. 'I know you're fake like the breasts on Jordan" - Nice.
- Nice militant remix of 'When I'm Ere'. Big bars.
- The Rossi B remix of 'In Da Place' by Stormin and Nasty Jack is really really good. Weird sort of 60's Tropicalia/James Bond vibe, but nailed really well, way better than 'Remember Me'. Both of them sound a lot better here than they did on (most of) Stormin's mixtape. A nice surprise.
- Can't stand Black Ops 'Fresh'. Their mc's are really awful as well.
- SLK 'Chrome Often' is ridiculous. Awesome production, with weird winding Middle Eastern-ish melody and little orchestral stabs and militant claps. It would be better if it was just Flirta D, because he is awesomely awesome, as they say, and the other mc's are a bit meh.
- New Roll Deep affiliated (I think) singer Alex Mills over a Danny Weed 'production' (ie stick a buzzy bass riff in occassionally) that
samples grabs whole-sale an old Whitesnake tune. Dangerously Von Dutch, isn't it?
- The Statik tune 'I Just Wanna Fuck You' is pretty decent, quite funny, mainly notable for an awesomely silly Jammer verse. I used to think Jammer was an absolutely terrible mc, but I was wrong wrong wrong. He is way funnier and more charismatic than like zillions of other people. At the Run the Road show at Rothko he was the main dude responsible for what atmosphere there was. He's also getting a lot better in the conventional sense of mc'ing as well as time goes by. I dunno if I could deal with a whole album of his stuff, but as far as popping up to drop a verse on random tunes, he's absolutely killing it at the moment.
- Interview with Essentials and little mini-set. Lots of shouting. Lots of projects coming up soon, which sounds good, including a Jendor mixtape, which should be fun. I like his weird vroom noise. Anyways, the set is quite good. Short, but fun.
- Dogzilla 'Memories'. Lots of autobiographical details. I actually think Dogz could be one of the biggest mc's in grime, because he covers a much wider range of topics than guns-gash-I'm the top brer in the endz, and he's got this whole Cockney everyman schtick that Mike Skinner has rode to success, but fo' real. And he's got Danny Weed and Target doing beats for him, which is always a good thing.
- The new Tinchy Strider and Dirty Danger tune is stupidly good. Apparently forthcoming on Strider's album, it's just pure dopeness. Spy movie soundtrack bizness.
- The Dexplicit remix of the new Carmen Reece tune is musically ridiculous. The production sounds like a metal staircase collapsing, with extra handclap, but her voice has got that 2-steppy vocodery/time-stretch sound that I've always found really annoying. I hated that shit then, and I hate it now.
That's it. Obviously, I'm not going to comment on every tune. Maybe (note maybe) tomorrow, I'll comment on Cameo's last show, although I hate the BBC website's stream system, where you can only skip forward by 5 minute increments. Terrible setup. David Drake has also passed on a music meme to me, maybe I'll have a go at that. Oh, and the Logan Sama RWD mag mixtape just showed up in the mail today, which was nice.
Pay as U Go Kartel b2b So Solid Crew - Not sure when this is from exactly. Think it's from 2002. How things have changed so soon.
So Solid's mc's were really, really bad.
Up now at Riddim.ca.
This is a two-part post. First, some musings on my approach to music, and then some mp3's. Feel free to scroll down if you'd prefer to skip my ramblings.
Obviously, I spend a lot of time listening to music, and then thinking about what I listen to. I also spend a lot of time reading about it. One of the things that I have found quite interesting over the last two or so years of reading about music online (I was reading stuff like TWANBOC and Blissblog way before I started participating on Dissensus and doing this blog) was how different my reactions to the music I was listening to were from others. Well, maybe not in the sense of aesthetics, what I liked and so on, but more in how I tried to break it down in my mind. I think the crucial difference is that I've never spent much time worrying about the words in the music that I listen to, that, whether instrumental or not, my mind has mostly focused on the sounds. I suspect that part of this is the result of my educational background and my personal intellectual interests; it seems like a lot of serious music writers have studied English or Philosophy quite seriously at points in their lives. These disciplines are fundamentally about words, about expression, and about ideas, whereas in what I did at university, History, words are functional, pieces in a puzzle, information to be used. Of course, the very best historical writing is written very well indeed - certainly at a level comparable to the best literature or philosophy - but the words are merely the means to an end, to conveying the necessary information. Bad historical writing, if it contains the necessary information, is still useful in doing your own work. Trust me, I've used many historical journals for research, and there really are no limits to how turgidly executed the prose can be. On the other hand, badly-written literature (and to a lesser extent philosophy) is more or less useless.
How does this tie into music? Well, I think that the focus on words that is so much a part of studying literature and philosophy seriously lends itself, when applied to music, to focusing primarily on lyrics, to peeling them apart to better understand the intentions and thoughts of the artist. This does not mean that the music itself is unimportant, merely that in so much of the music criticism that I have read the lyrics are as, if not more, important than the music. I don't really approach music in this way. I listen to the lyrics of vocal tracks, but I don't really care what the artist is saying. For the most part, I just like the surface aesthetics of the human voice when set against the music; the words are just pieces of information in a larger whole.
Where is this coming from? Well, I've been thinking about this quite a bit since I read Kid Kameleon's notes to accompany his recent ragga jungle mix at Gutterbreakz. Here's the relevant quote that got me a-pondering:
Unfortunately, anyone who deals with current Jamaican-derived music eventually has to come to terms with their position on anti-homosexual lyrics. Basically, I try my hardest not to play 'em. I'm all for burning out wikkid men, corruption, bomberclaats in general, but the evidence is too strong that Jamaica has a problem with endemic violence towards homosexuals, and while I don't blame dancehall artists for that violence directly I feel I need to follow a policy of "do no harm" for my own mixes. I won't knowningly play openly anti-gay lyrics, although I'm OK editing them out with backspins. It's not a comment on the producer of the track as he managed to snag vocals that are killer in every other way and should be put to use. It's a comment on the vocals themselves. It's a tricky line, but I call on ragga jungle producers to steer clear of incendiary lyrics since I really don't believe the producers are making a statement of deeply held beliefs like the people they are sampling. Please take the time, producers and fans alike, to read LFODemon's Battybwoys are alright manifesto which I wholly endorse.
I read this (as I've read several other pieces concerning violent homophobia in dancehall lyricism, Wayne Marshall has a bunch of links if you are interested) and pondered it. For the most part, I listen to two broad fields of music: global black street music (for lack of a better term; I'm referring to hip-hop, dancehall, and grime) and global white dance music (from techno to hardtrance to hardcore and so on). Obviously these categories are hardly racially impermeable, but these are useful shorthands, and I'm guessing that my readers will understand what I'm talking about. Dance music, being for the most part instrumental, is pretty much disconnected from any concerns with lyrical content. But hip-hop, grime, and dancehall are all about lyricism as much (if not more, really) as they are about music...so how to react to sketchily questionable violent, misogynistic, racist, or homophobic lyrics? I've been wondering about this question precisely because I've found that I have no reaction to such lyrics. I just don't seem to care really. I'm a reasonably liberal guy but for the most part it just doesn't seem to bother me when I hear musicians saying things that I strongly disagree with on a personal level, because I don't really engage with lyrics. Is this wrong? I dunno.
There's a strong common thread running through my music taste - I like electronic sounds over organic ones virtually always. For the most part, I'm just not interested that interested in music made on yer real instruments, or music sampled from said real instruments; I'd rather hear synths. A lot of the sounds that I enjoy in, say, dancehall are similar to the sonic signatures that I enjoy in techno. By placing most of my focus and enjoyment on the textures and aesthetics of the music that I consume, am I abdicating my responsibility to question statements that run counter to my own beliefs and values?
This is particularly the case in regards to homophobia in Jamaican dancehall music. I have had quite a few gay friends over the years, yet when I hear these Jamaican mc's bunning out the battyman dem (or at least when I can decipher the accents to the point where I can tell what they are saying), it just doesn't seem to faze me. Even though it's an implicit attack on all of these fine men and women I've known over the years, I don't feel particularly outraged, certainly less than I do by the antics and anti-gay rhetoric of much of the American Religious Right. Is this me giving them a pass because these musicians are black? Nah, it's not that, because I'm not really bothered by Eminem's homophobia either. I guess that it comes down to the fact that I consider music escapism, fundamentally disconnected from the everyday, and that is why I like the synthesized over the organic: it is one step removed from the everyday. Perhaps it is just a defense mechanism, because my other great passions are history and current affairs, the very definition of the everyday. I spend a lot of time reading serious and heavy things, about wars and crises and virulent debate, and so I try to separate my thoughts about music from my thoughts about our world, its past, its present, and its future.
I realize that these are not particularly satisfactory answers, but it seems like the only way in which I really enjoy engaging with music is through the lens of aesthetic appreciation, and not through politics. I don't really enjoy mixing my greatest pleasure, which is music, with my masochistic need to do study the human condition. This is a cop-out, but I guess at least I am self-aware on this point.
And on that note, how about some mp3's?
Technasia (pictured above) are my absolute favorite techno producers. A two-man team made up of Hong Kong's Amil Khan and Paris's Charles Siegling, they met several years ago in Hong Kong and started producing tracks together. They make everything from sweepingly melodic warm-hearted tech-house to austerely crisp electro to straight-up dancefloor hammering techno. This is a set that Charles did four years ago, and features a great variety of tunage, from ultra-hypnotic minimalism to bass-heavy percussive monsters to to crunchy electro and lighter, disco-infused moments, all mixed beautifully with some rather tasty trickery thrown in. Banging, as they say.
Dave Clarke is one of the world's best techno dj's. This is a twelve minute cut-up of old electro tracks that appeared on the Electro Boogie Vol. 2 mix cd that came out in 1998. Unfortunately, I don't have the tracklisting in front of me at the moment for this, because I ripped this onto my external hard drive when I was back at my parents' house for Christmas, and I didn't bring it with me. There are some serious skills at work here. Enjoy.
Absurdly scorching weather here in NYC today. Fiercely hot and so humid that the air seems to have the consistency of soup. Makes me pine for British weather.
Anyways, on with the music.
HOW COME NO-ONE DON'T DANCE NO MORE / KANO / 679
REMEMBER ME / KANO / 679
STRAIGHT FLUSH FREESTYLE / KANO / DUB
SIDEWINDER / WILEY, ROLL DEEP, RUFF SQWAD, JAMMER AND GODSGIFT / ROLL DEEP RECORDINGS
GRIME RIDDIM MEDLEY / SLEW DEM / SLEW DEM PRODUCTIONS
BLAZE & ROCK INST / LEWI WHITE / SLEW DEM PRODUCTIONS
REAL LOVE / CHRONIK / SLEW DEM PRODUCTIONS
BLAZE MORE DAN U / CHRONIK / SLEW DEM PRODUCTIONS
I WONT STOP / SLEW DEM / SLEW DEM PRODUCTIONS
MOVIN & BRUSING / BRUZA / AFTERSHOCK
I'LL BE THERE / SHIZZLE / DUB
UNTITLED / TINCHY STYDER / RUFF SQWAD
GOOD GIRL / ROLL DEEP FT J2K / RELENTLESS
SINGLE / SKEPTA / BOY BETTER KNOW
SLEW WASTE MAN / RYDER / LETHAL BIZZLE
FREESTYLE / D DOUBLE E / DUB
THE ANTHEM / NEWHAM GENERALS / DIRTEE STANK
PRANGMAN REFIX INST / FOOTSIE / DIRTEE STANK
MIC CENTRE / NEWHAM GENERALS / DIRTEE STANK
**NEWHAM GENERAL'S LIVE**
WE'RE THRU / TERROR DANJAH VS THE TEMPRAMENTALS / SMOOVE
YOU GOT ME (DEXPLICIT REMIX) / PARABEATS FT CARMEN REECE / PUBLIC DEMAND
FOD FOR THOUGHT / ALEX MILLS / DUB
COULD YOU / GEMMA FOX / DUB
KAOTIC MADNESS FREESTYLE / FACTION G / DUB
CROME OFTEN / SLK / SOLOKEY
RINGER FREESTYLE / NARSTIE & SOLO / DUB
CHA / PLASTICMAN FT SHIZZLE, FRESH & NAPPER / TERRORHYTHM
POP STAR CHICKS / NASTY FT DYNASTY / DUB
SWIFT / MR KEAS / SOUTHSIDE
SHAKE A LEG / ROLL DEEP / RELENTLESS
'Sidewinder' - Absolutely unreal new Wiley production, featuring a massive list of mc's. Eskiboy layers the 'Murkle Man' strings over clanking beats, but what really makes this is the way that the bassline changes for each verse, versioning old tunes, as the mc's drop some of their classic lyrics (including Wiley's 'lyrical sniper' lyric). Stupidly stupidly awesome. I'm actually going to shell out for a vinyl copy of this, as it's that astonishing.
Shizzle 'I'll Be There' - A rare softer tune that I actually enjoy. Shizzle is pretty much always fun to listen to.
That new Tinchy Strider tune. I wish the quality was a bit better, but the tune sounds like something straight out of a chase movie. Robofunk in effect.
The mini Newham Generals set is pretty good, but it would benefit from less Monkey, as he's a bit meh. Apparently their album for Dizzee Rascal's Dirtee Stank (a sub-label of XL, I guess) is going to be called 'Generally Speaking', which is kind of a crappy name. Having said that, if it's all stuff like 'The Anthem' I'm guessing that it will be awesome. 'The Anthem' is really really good, with a nice electroey bassline and gloomy space vibes.
Miss Kittin, The Hacker & Vitalic live @ Montreux Jazz Fest - After a couple days of slacking on this blog, here's an awesome techno/electro set from the Francophone world's greatest techno heroes (fuck an Akufen, you microhouse nerds).
I'll have some new content up tonight. In the meantime, have a look at my post on Racial Segregation in Brooklyn at my main blog, which I'm quite proud of (and God knows, I put the hours in doing up all those statistics and graphs).
Just a quick thing, but if you're after some mixes, check out the three by my friend Jude aka Slink here. Two tuff breaks mixes and an awe-inspiring acid techno meltdown mix. Good stuff.
Since I'm feeling particularly benevolent, and I've got silly amounts of bandwidth left (although the month is still young), I've added May 31st's set from DJ Glamma featuring Dogzilla and Maxwell D to the Riddim downloads page.
It's cool to see Maxwell D back in top form after disappearing for a while. Back in the Pay As U Go days he was always my favorite mc in that crew, and then he seemed to drop out of view for a while, but he's spitting some fire on this set.
Dogzilla is always good fun too, cockerney geezahness in full effect. Oh, and you HAVE to check the freestyle over the Roll Deep 'Heat Up' beat by OT new boy Devlin which comes on about 17 minutes in. Pretty awesome stuff from a kid who has just turned 16.
Riddim.ca is moving.
Just added a totally sweet set from Cameo featuring Shystie, Narstie, Solo, and Mini Me to the downloads section of Riddim. Check it out. Get your grime on.
Other people's stuff:
DJ Twist's awesome 'Invent Your Enemy' old skool ardkore mix is back up at Bassnation. Huzzah!
I thought Serg's slapdown of spoken word was pretty funny.
That's it for tonight.
Tonight I'm going to be uploading an awesome Shystie, Narstie, Solo, Mini Me and DJ Cameo set from BBC 1xtra's Pirate Sessions. It's big, trust me!
Just got back the text of an interview with the mighty Plasticman, so as soon as we get some images, that's going up too!
The Essentials' Bossman is back with the second edition of his Street Anthems mix series. And it's seriously, seriously large. Unlike a lot of other recent mixtapes, this is actually mixed. Really. It's not a hip-hop style collection of tracks with explosions and jingles between the tunes, but an actual mixed cd. Which is nice for a change. Fortunately, Bossman can actually beatmix, unlike a lot of pirate set dj's you hear, who just flick the fader over between tracks seemingly randomly. As someone who has been dj'ing for 8 years now (Christ!) it's quite nice for me to actually hear, on a mix cd, a grime dj that can hold down nice long mixes between tracks. Another nice thing about a mix cd in this format is that it it's more uptempo than the more hip-hop styled mixtapes, which underlines just how different this music remains from standard hip-hop. Sometimes the slower mixtapes show more of a convergence with hip-hop, which is ok I guess, but I'm from a dance music background, so I prefer uptempo and more distinctively dancey sounds.
Having sat out UK Garage, which I wasn't feeling at all, the main thing that attracted me to grime was the combination of hip-hop/dancehall-style lyricism and style with the raw electronic energy that reminded me of my junglist days. When the formula is worked exactly right, there's a beautiful balance in grime between these two elements. Sometimes, though, over the last couple of months I've started to feel like the balance is tipping too much towards the former, and that the sonic energy that is such an important part of grime's appeal (at least to me) is being sacrificed so that the mc's can use their mixtapes to emulate more closely their American rap heroes. This is why I often prefer recordings of pirate sets, which are almost always madness from start to finish, to the more relaxed feel of some mixtapes. This is not a problem with this cd, which is pretty wildly energetic from start to finish.
Tunes wise, there's not much arguing that can be done with this cd. If the first edition was a bit dated tunes-wise, at least by the time it came out, this is all quite current and fresh stuff. There's not much on here that I haven't heard before, but I'm a chronic junky for this music, so that's no big surprise. Still, there's little here that I'm sick of. One of the things that you notice when you listen to this cd all the way through is just how good grime is getting. The London scene seems to be pretty supremely confident at the moment. The quality of the mc's on a flow, lyrical, and style level is as good as it's ever been; it's amazing to think of how far standards have improved in only a couple of years from the frankly dire levels of people like So Solid Crew.
On a musical level the tunes are, to be honest, awesome. The production quality seems to be constantly improving, the quality of the tunes' execution always moving on to a new level. Indeed, unlike jungle/dnb, which, as the quality of production improved painted itself into a corner of glossy screwface rave noise, grime is spreading its wings musically. There's an awesome range of styles on this cd, from Dexplicit's rnb-as-made-by-vengeful-robots remix of Carmen Reece's 'U Got Me' to the Gypsytronic roll of Roll Deep's 'When I'm Ere' to the synth-horned explosions of the handful of Davinche tracks, and so on and so forth. That's another nice thing about this cd, that despite being a member of Essentials, Bossman has gathered tracks up from a whole range of London crews. The slewing/warring thing is kind of amusing to hear from an outsider's perspective, but I definitely hope that the grime scene can work together, and that stuff like this can work as a catalyst for further collaboration.
So, final verdict? Awesome cd.