One thing I live for is finding strong evidence that behind the scenes, hip hop producers are listening to dance music for inspiration. When Timbaland uses that quasi dnb break in "Get Ur Freak On," or that filtered snare that seems to appear in half the work he did for Aaliyah, everything seems right in the world and a principle of general reciprocity is upheld, at least it seems to me. It's no secret that hip hop is probably the "urban music" par excellence worldwide, so naturally producers in all other forms of urban music are taking cues from hip hop. But sometimes it doesn't seem to work both ways. Punctures in hip hop's facade of reclusiveness and self-sustainability can be difficult to detect.
With that in mind, it is with giddy excitement that I share my latest evidence that some of the hottest sounds in hip hop are derived from, or at least run parrallel to, what producers are doing in other forms of dance music. Case in point - That Rising Filtered House Sound which "Spaced Invader"
pioneered and has since appeared in tons of drum n bass tunes. That same sound - which tingles your senses and elevates your freak-out level - features prominently in the latest Just Blaze beat for Freeway's "What We Do."
And I suspect that we'll be seeing more of this style beat in hip hop tunes to come....
Freeway - "What We Do" video (Real Player)
Hatiras vs. J Majik - "Spaced Invader" (Real Player)
"It's a motherfucker, don't ya know,
When they push that button, your ass got to go!"
New limited edition Yo La Tengo "Nuclear War" ep covers an obscure Sun Ra tune 4 different ways, and the original's evocation of Cold War paranoia is not lost on the current war-worried state of affairs. Creepy.
Everything Starts With An E
So I'm on a bit of a discovery mission, learning all about the early rave culture and acid house phenomenon in the UK, which in my view is so critical to everything we take for granted now about DJ's, music, partying, and pop culture in general, but at the time was quite revolutionary. The historical importance of the British "Summer of Love" as it's often called - really 2 summers I think: '88 and '89 - has only begun to be fully appreciated as a cultural turning point with long-lasting repurcussions. Anyway, being that this fantastic music (including the American techno and house tunes that in part inspired the British acid house movement) is still, after all, rooted in the 80's, it's a bit of shock hearing music which is tapped into the same chemical frequency as today's electronic music yet sounds so clearly, well, OLD. Even returning to the 94-96 era techno, ambient, and jungle - my entry point into this continuum - I'm surprised to find how much this music has evolved despite how imperceptible the changes seem when they are happening.
So with that, let us thank Everything Starts With An E
for being such an amazing sonic and visual document of the 88-92 period of UK dance music! The streaming DJ sets and pirate radio clips are incredible - Sasha at the Hacienda in '89, Grooverider in '90
(!), Sunrise, Amnesia House, Top Buzz, Sunrise FM. And early rave flyers. Enjoy!
Onto some of that new dark 'n' minimal dub 2-step bizness. I'm liking it more each day, but still not sure. Flirts with over-brooding at times. Some stuff to listen to...
HATCHA mix (from Big Apple Records)-
Kode9 from Hyperdub
's latest dubstep mix. I'm feeling these tracks, all continuing on the 2-step-meets-dancehall reggae rhythm trajectory that seems to preoccupy so much of my listening lately...
2 new tunes proving the Neptunes have more where that came from...
Birdman (aka Baby aka #1 Stunna from Cash Money Records) - "What Happened to That Boy"
Clipse are still slingin' coke and Birdman's got that Southern drawl on lock, but it's the Neptunes beat that takes this one into uncharted territory. Minimal bongo funk, slithering hand percussion, a way-down sub bass, and some spooky keyboard traces. Neptunes are ever-deeper into dancehall-reggae-derived rhythms and I'm certain we've only seen the beginning of this latest strain of Neptunes rhythmology.
And for further adventures in dancehall, the Neptunes-produced "Belly Dancer"
is a straight-up dancehall workout, featuring the lyrical darts of one Kardinal Offishal (a relative newcomer to the reggae scene). The 45's are flying off the shelves at Brooklyn's reggae mecca Beat Street records, so don't get your hopes up of landing a copy anytime soon. Fusing complex Indian tabla patterns, Middle-Eastern melodies, MC fire, and the Neptunes' signature loose-knit hand-clap funkiness, this tune has all the ingredients for conquering both the hardcore reggae audience and the ever-more-receptive-to-reggae-in-prime-time mainstream hip hop radio.
My first blog! Welcome world, we're in business. 3am and spring's just around the corner.