We Will Super-Street-Fight Them On The Beaches

Elton ”Swanton” John once sang ”Saturday night’s alright for fighting”; so what’s Friday night for? Well, if you’re like me and don’t have a social and/or sex life, Friday night’s alright for watching bedroom bound social misfits Super Street Fighting (IV) each other with their fingers. These nerds are like me with the social skill gauge turned down a couple of points and the determination gauge turned up by about 300. Saying that, I can relate to them more easily than to, say, Usain Bolt or Wayne Rooney. When I’m lying on my sweat-stained death-bed, eyes wandering and bowels atrophying all over the mattress, I’m afraid I won’t be able to say, proud even in hailing pace of my demise, “I could have been a contender”… but could I have been a Street Fighter contender? Let me entertain the possibility, at least, or perish of the truth. (If you were born to be a nerd, as I am, it must count as some sort of biological crime to not use all that time you’re going to be spending alone in your bedroom usefully, just as it would be a crime for Ryan Gosling to not fuck everything that moves.)

Today marks 25 years since the release of Public Enemy’s Fear of A Black Planet. PE frontman Chuck “Things At Your Head From A Passing Car” D once memorably exhorted us to “Fight the Power!” A student of history might reasonably contend that Chuck needn’t have bothered. We’ll fight the power, alright. We’ll fight the powers that be. We’ll fight the powers that DON’T be. We’ll fight a bucket of spam if it wants some. Science has shown what any fan of imagining what James Corden’s cries for help would sound like as their steel-capped toe crunches into his ribs for the thirtieth time in a minute already knows – namely, that humans enjoy violence much as they enjoy having a sex or eating a food*:

New research on mice shows the brain processes aggressive behavior as it does other rewards. Mice sought violence, in fact, picking fights for no apparent reason other than the rewarding feeling.

The mouse brain is thought to be analogous to the human brain in this study, which could shed light on our fascination with brutal sports as well as our own penchant for the classic bar brawl.

In fact, the researcher say, humans seem to crave violence just like they do sex, food or drugs.

http://www.livescience.com/2231-humans-crave-violence-sex.html

It might have been less politically charged a statement for Public Enemy to have released a tune called ”Fight The Granny”, but wouldn’t some unspoken part of us all thrilled to this sentiment as much as the other? I mean, she’s doddering around all feeble and trembly, getting in the way, delicately sipping up valuable resources, and is probably not so much harboring racist beliefs behind a veneer of civilized equanimity as nesting some civilized beliefs in a plump pile of racism; she’s asking for it, isn’t she?

This primal appetite for brutality obviously goes some way to explaining not only my love for Street Fighter and UFC videos but also my love of violent rap music. It’s actually a wonder that there isn’t more music designed to slake our thirst for sex, isn’t it? It’s also interesting to consider that violent fantasies, as embodied in films like TakenTaken 2 and Now You’re Taken The Piss, are very much out in the open, whereas I have had to hide my DVD boxset of Secret Diary of a Call Girl under my bed for the entire time I’ve owned it.

Anyway, I think that aside from a healthy love of watching people get their faces battered with knuckle-bones, there’s a lot to like about these Street Fighter videos. They are thrilling. I have no idea what’s going on in them, from the perspective of which moves are being pulled off and how much expertise is going in to each move, but for the layman (the has-been-laid man), it’s easy, at least, to see when one player has the upper hand, and when the other player manages to wrest control back of the fight. It isn’t really about witnessing physical skill, as with watching boxing or football – it’s perhaps more akin to watching horse-racing. But its got fireballs in it, which in horse racing is indicative of either a terrorist attack or mechanical calamity backstage, and is therefore about fifty six times better all round.

* I note here that nerds don’t get all that much sex or violence from life, which obviously explains their love of porn, violent porn, violent video games, violent porn games, and eating crisps and ice cream from the womb to the tomb.

Movement Concrete

D-Bridge & Skeptical – Move Way (2013)

This is my pledge: you will always be able to count on this blog to update you on exciting new developments in dance music about two years after the fact. Marooned on planet rap, the light from brightly burning dance choons reaches me long after the stars have faded from clubland.

Actually, what keyed me into this tune last night was (and this will be a recurrent theme on here, I’m sure) getting stoned and thereby drifting into a sort of imaginative proximity with my Drum N Bass days long past. I’ve not followed D’N’B for a good four or five years now, and never bothered much with the Instra:Mental/D-Bridge stuff that sprouted from the genres union with dubstep (a two-way osmosis which left dubstep undoubtedly the poorer, polluted with buzz-saw basslines on the one side and dull neurofunk stiffness on the other), and in that period a lot of ideas about why I distanced myself from the genre have collected like dust around my ears and brain. So it’s nice to be able to hear – under the influence of weed and, perhaps, a growing boredom with more ”nuumy” genres – qualities in the music that made me love it.

D-Bridge – Without Answers (2013)

It helps to remember buying vinyl, trying to pull off mixes (DNB is a genre infatuated with dramatic dynamic shifts – which is why in the middle of nearly every tune there’s 16 or 32 bars of harmonic cooling down before the sub-bass thunder rumbles and it starts raining a-Men), and – naturally – dancing, usually while off my chops on pills, in clubs like Stealth in Nottingham. I think there’s a sniffy attitude, particularly in the online musical circles I now move in, towards DNB because of the conventionality of its rhythms (2-step rules over all, and tunes like “Move Way” – with it’s ‘half-step’ beat, are aimed at attacking this hegenomy) and structures. Especially compared to its direct forebear, jungle, DNB sounds quite stiff. At 170bpm, boom-CLAP, boom-CLAP gives no room for swing and shuffle ala. House.

However, to remember that DNB is DANCE music is to cast your ears more kindly upon that metronomic snare. It’s a convention, the crowd all know it is coming and will (more or less) be sustained. It defines the pulse of the dancefloor. Even in its ”shallower” forms (DJ Hazard et al.) it is immersive music; you are carried along by the force of the tempo, and by the weight of the sounds (unless, of course, you aren’t), and whipped up into a frenzy, or at least into an out-of-body (because completely OF the body) state.

Taxman – You’re Dead (2005)

The quality of sounds is very important in modern Drum N Bass, which is another reason its so criticised, I think – its not VITAL its TASTEFUL. Well, so goes the cliche. I wonder, though, if this is simply replacing one cognoscenti’s disdain for raw energy with another’s disdain for beauty? Now, “Move Way” is not really beautiful at all; I think it would be derided by many (including un-stoned me) as being boring, stiff, humourless. What it is, is IMPRESSIVE. It’s titanic, in the sense that Loefah’s productions (clearly influential on D-Bridge & Skeptical, hence the reverb-saturated Jamaican monologue that presages the spartan drop) are titanic. It’s stripped back to its sinews and these are titanium-tough. Rhythmically it fixes you to the spot, it rivets you into place. You will move, it insists, but not from this dancefloor.

Always we must fight our instinct to dismiss by categorisation (by LANGUAGE, you might say). The qualities of this tune are completely different from the tune below, but both have made their own place to be judged in and have to be judged within that place.

DJ Pantha – Sweet Shop (2012)

I’m the Flip in the Flop

Gunplay – Tell ‘Em Daddy (2015)

One of the things I most pride myself on having achieved as a writer is giving Gunplay’s ”Bogota Rich: The Prequel” its most hyperbolic review, it’s most wide-eyed and drooly-mouthed tribute. Excuse me while I quote myself:

“So much I wanna say, only got one pair of lungs”, Gunplay raps at one point on Bogota Rich. Well, whatever you make of what he says, you’ve really got to hand it to his lungs. Another line that perhaps comes closer to the essence of Gunplay’s Tyson-esque talent: “I beat up the beat, never let it breathe!”. There are plenty of rappers who are nicer people than Gunplay, more edifying and politically conscious, more verbally dexterous – but us Gunplay fans all know who’s wearing the black shorts. Ear lobe in mouth, tattoo on face, opponents being given mouth-to-mouth in the opposite corner: love him or loathe him, the champ is here.”

FACT Magazine review of ‘Bogota Rich: The Prequel”

Since then I’ve sort of lost interest in Gunplay, but this new song, the first single off his debut album ”Living Legend”, which apparently drops in May, has rekindled my platonic love for the Swastika rocking maniac. You’d be hard pressed to find a rapper alive with a more authoritative delivery than Don Logan, and his lyrics are clever without being clever-bollocks. The beat also goes hard like Alan Partridge’s bag of cement.

Some good rap tunes, apropos of NADA.

G-Unit – All About The Drug Money (2015)

This is the type of music 2015 Mobb Deep should be making. Piano. Bass drum booming. Perfect fodder for QB killa music. I posted this on my tumblr already but now it’s got a video so why not?

Roc Marciano – Pop (2010)

I usually prefer Marciano in laid-back gangster mode but this tune can’t be described as owt but FIYAH.

To Commemorate Gaffling A Blu Ray Rip of ‘Interstellar’ Off KAT

Kuedo – Seeing The Edges (2011)

The flange noises here, which sound like opening air-locks (or perhaps just like laughing gas being fired up), remind me of those used on ANOTHER futurist anthem designed to inspire Blade Runner reveries in the sensitive.

The Dream feat. Kanye West – Walking On The Moon (2009)

There was a lot of debate at the time of ‘Severent”s release about whether it was futuristic or retrograde but leaving all that aside it’s definitely held up spectacularly; perhaps there’s something timeless about this sci-fi sound, or perhaps it’s that it’s timely. The future is now. You lot can have your swimming with dolphins, dumping ice-buckets over your heads and helping the helpless. MY ambition for 2015 is to get hyper-lean and stroll around central London on a summer evening, in blue-tinged Ray Bans, staring up at the towering office buildings and listening to Kuedo. For now, I’m going to replicate the effect I’m hoping for by turning the volume down on this video of a Tokyo night drive and turning the Kuedo up in my headphones.

Slave To The Wave

French Montana – Playing In The Wind (2014)

Say what you like about French Montana (and I have): he’s not lyrical, he’s not French, his head is a glorified towel-stand, etcetera, but he’s currently acting as a bridging point between dusty old New York rap and the auto-tune blues-hop produced by Atlanta artists in recent years; or should that be a life-line? Auto-tune can make a rapper sound like a melancholy robot (C3POhdear/Robo-sob/Suicyborg) and it can make them sound like a robot with learning difficulties, and French Montana (and his mate/duplicate Chinx Drugz) definitely falls into the latter category. But that seems to be part of his whole steez – the loveable mook, obviously not as stupid as he makes out to be and thoroughly enjoying pretending to be a complete Wall-y.

Fabolous feat. French Montana – Ball Drop (2015)

Vado feat. Chinx Drugz – Told Ya (2015)

French likes being ridiculous and larger than life, which is exactly what New York rappers have been failing to do for a hot minute (post Dipset?). Witness the video for ‘Ball Drop’, which isn’t about when Hitler’s voice first broke, in which French parades around jocularly in an oversized mink coat, while Fabolous tries to approach Montana’s swag-levels by occasionally borrowing the coat and otherwise wearing a New Era cap with a stupid pointless bobble on top. This sort of reminds me of when you see a politician pretending to enjoy a performance by N-Dubz at the Royal Galas in order to look less cold and reptilian. When young (now banged up) New Yorker Bobby Schmurda embraced southern/midwest styles last year, it felt less contrived, less awkward, less dusty. (Actually, ‘Wipe The Case Away’ was more Max-B/French Montana-ish than anything like Future or Rich Homie Quan.)

Bobby Schmurda – Wipe The Case Away (2014)

Re: Montana x Autotune, here’s Johnny Cinco sounding not unlike Montana when rapping on a weiiiiiird auto-goon-tune which I’m not even sure is good or not but is certainly haunting.

Johnny Cinco – Crew X 2 (2015)

Boy Better Know should have renamed themselves London City Are U Dumb Ensemble

Motor City Drum Ensemble – Send A Prayer Pt. 2 (2013)

I’m a big fan of MCDE. In promotional shots he looks a bit like a member of the ”Only Lovers Left Alive” cast, and perhaps this explains how a Dale Winton’s-teeth-white German bloke is able to make records which glow with a black soulfulness from the 70s. All musicians who sample, and perhaps all musicians, are benign cultural vampires of sorts. Or should that be conductors? Or preachers? If my record deck hadn’t died sometime in around 2011 I probably would have bought this EP, which also includes this, much darker and bleepier, track:

Motor City Drum Ensemble – The Stranger (2013)

It’s All Gone A Bit Pete Properly

Kingpin Cartel – Ghetto (2007)

If I ever get around to producing music properlyproperly, ideally it will sound a bit like this. The chords, I mean. Those euphoric-melacholic square waves, flanged to sound jet-like and air-borne, that sound like a come-up and come-down simultaneously. One of these days when I’ve really got nothing better to do I’ll document a short history of these chords in rave music. Maybe I can pitch it to Adam ‘Rogues Foam’ Harper and get him to do the scientific analysis, while I preen, beautifully and uselessly, amongst the CGI molecules like Jennifer Aniston in her advertising anchoring prime. Anyway, this is taken from Bicep’s Essential MIx which I’ve been listening to this week, and which you should listen to this week.

‘Ghetto’ smack-face-obviously (or very slightly, depending on if you’re me or not) resembles Alan Braxe and Fred Falke’s classic track ‘Intro’; the same textural counterpoise of wistful, airy tunefulness with weighty, funky slap-bass. Makes you dance, makes you smile, makes you cry.

Alan Braxe & Fred Falke – Intro (2001)

Mustard-Watch 2015 Pt. 1

In the year in which we will, like a severely ill man sat sweating on a toilet, ceaselessly ask ourselves “When is this Mustard run going to end?” (rather than worrying about climate change), there will be many more Mustard bangers doing damage to dancefloors regardless. LET’S BEAT THIS DEAD HORSE TIL IT STARTS SMELLING!

Don’t get it twisted, though. According to the Chinese last year was the year of the Horse. It wasn’t: it was the year of the Mustard. “2 On”“I Don’t Fuck With You”, “Or Nah”, “Who Do You Love?”, “Touchin’, Lovin’“, “Body Language”… Madness, and that’s not even getting into the Mustard-rip-off tracks like “Loyal”, “Fancy” and “2AM”. So here’s a few Mustard jawns that have caught my ear so far this year. (I think “Post To Be” came out last year but the video is a few weeks old.)

Iamsu! – Nothin’ Less

Omarion feat. Chris Brown & Jhene Aiko – Post To Be

Kid Ink feat. Trey Songz – About Mine

First Quarter Rap Up Pt. 1

hatethedrake

Here’s a short list of rap songs I’ve enjoyed so far this year.

Spenzo feat. Bloody Jay – Choppa City

This 808 Mafia beat kicks off almost identically to their “Danny Glover” beat. Although neither beat nor song is on that level (but what is? “Goodnight, Sweet Prince, and may “Danny Glover” sing you to your rest.”), it’s another amazingly visceral production, with a harumphing distorted kick drum stamping on your ear-drums like an enraged elephant’s foot while a panicked Spenzo runs around the plains like a headless chicken screaming ”CHOPPACITY!” again and again and again.

Bankroll Fresh feat. T.I. – Dope Boy Shit (REMIX)

Triumphant “Hail the King!” horn riff as played through a Casio keyboard circa 1995? Perfect fodder for T.“What You Know About That?” I. I like the weird drum pattern on this, and the feeling like its constantly building up to a point of hysteria. Feels like a throwback to late 90s bounce-rap, which isn’t surprising given Bankroll Fresh’s obvious proclivity for N.O.stalgia.

Royce Rizzy feat. Wiz Khalifa, Iamsu! & Cassius Jay – Hoe In You (REMIX)

I dunno if this is superior to the original, which only features Wiz, but I’m inclined to listen to this one cos I don’t really like Wiz that much (prepare for self-contradiction) and therefore there’s proportionally less of him on the remix. It’s like drowning out the disgusting taste of vodka with more Pepsi. This is produced by Zaytoven, and is one of the best AutoGoon anthems I’ve heard in a while. Is this 2014/15’s “The Bitch In You“? It’s better, that’s for sure, so maybe we really do already live in a glorious utopian future. By 2030 all rapping will be sung, by robots. Which will be a relief, I reckon, especially for insecure nerdy white-boys like me, who will build and maintain these robots.

Flatbush ZOMBiES feat. Domo Genesis – Plz Don’t Make Me Do It

Personally I’ve always imagined the Flatbush Zombies to be a Noisey/Fader conspiracy against the authentic hip-hop culture (the same illuminati scheme that replaced the amazing Danny Brown with a shit-haired android that can only screech) but this tune is actually good so shut my mouth and cut off my fingers. I’m a sucker for this type of loop, and despite definite retro leanings this doesn’t feel like a second-rate piece of 90s hip-hop that somebody found in a car-boot sale.

CyHi The Prynce – Master P

I hate CyHi The Prynce’s name, densely humped with typographical land-mines, so I never listened to any of his music before I reviewed his latest mixtape. I liked the mixtape a lot, so again, cut off my fingaz and call me ChRLY if I’m ever to be trusted again. NOTE: “Master P” is by some distance the best song on the whole tape, though. CyHi resembles Ras Kass vocally (despite hailing from G.A.) and in other ways too: the regal name, the flourished vocab, the mixture of street-smarts and book-smarts, the disdain dripping off his voice. He just goes the fuck off on this track. BETTER THAN BIG SEAN. (Does that really need to be capitalised?)

Chief Keef – Himalayas

I’ve just now been rebuked on Dissensus for toeing the old “his beats are good / his raps are shit” hipster line on Keef’s recent music, and I had to take the L cos if you listen closely to him here, e.g., he’s rapping well. In my defence, I think you HAVE TO listen to him closely these days cos his voice is so faint and slurry. Thing is, I previously wrote off my now-hero Gucci Mane for similar reasons, and although I don’t think Keef is on Gucci’s level (esp. not 2007-9 Gucci), he’s certainly better than most of his critics give him credit for. Well, to be obvious as fuck, the beat on this is WEE-ERRD. It’s like a magical land of Oz covered in litter and shell casings.

Addition created intoxicated: Wow I underrated this by not ranting about it a bit. This beat is not ”Oz covered in blah blah”, it’s Zaytoven squeezed into a weirder constriction, the fiddles sounding almost squashed and rubbery (a quality certainly unlocked in auto-tune rap), and Keef is also a bit of a squashed Gucci, the volume and charisma dialled dowwwn, the playfulness with words, the idiosyncratic lines like “I put the D in Deceit”, the hook soooo Gucci-esque. Maybe Keef really IS the heir to Gucci’s throne?

Young Thug – Free Gucci 

Speaking of Big Cat La Flare, here’s another child of Gucci paying oblique tribute to his father (or just tying it in to a song about wearing Gucci). This is Metro Boomin’ x Young Thug (MetroThuggin’ or Young Moomin). Young Thug x London On The Track is represented this year by “I Swear To God”. Also worth checking is “Lil Mama”, slated to be on the – we can only pray to Based God still to be released – part 2 of the Rich Gang Tour mixtape series. I mean, yes, he called Rich Homie Quan “Bitch Homie Quan” but anybody with a friend called Rich knows that this is a temptation not easily to avoided, especially when you’re off your tits on codeine.