To Be Young Is Very Heaven

Today on Fassbook, Ill Blu posted up the latest daytime playlist for 1xtra. They were celebrating their entry onto the C List – which I was happy to see, too, given that they were some of the most outrageously talented producers in the outrageously great genre of UK Funky, and therefore deserve all the success that absolute nonentities like Calvin Harris enjoy. Judging by their entry on the playlist, Ill Blu are nowadays making highly polished, if disappointingly generic, ‘deep house’, of the type enjoyed by people too young to put inverted commas around ‘deep house’ – you know, good-looking, clean-shaven people with their whole lives in front of them. Bastards, basically.

Anyway, being no snob when it comes to music for the yoofz, I decided to check out the complete 1xtra A-List playlist to see if it would help me remember what fun was like. I didn’t hate most of the tracks on it, but I wasn’t crazy for most of them, either. A lot of them are in major key, and obviously aimed at people who can smile without irony. I was going to do a complete run down of all the songs but I quickly realised that there wasn’t much point, given how vague my feelings are towards the majority. I guess it’s nice to see Wiley and Skepta on the playlist, albeit with fairly forgettable tracks (“Shut Down” and “Chasing The Art”). Natalie Le Rose’s ”Somebody” is a Mustard/Mustard-a-like track which loses points for Jeremih doing one of those reprisals of a famous and better song. I couldn’t tell if Shift K3Y’s ”Name and Number” was actually good neo-2-step or not, because the video – of absurdly good-looking teenagers having amazing fun at a house party of the sort I would have been invited to last about ten years ago if I had ever been invited – gave me a severe case of sour grandpa grapes. OMI’s ”Cheerleader” (Felix Jahen RMX) sounds like Crazy Frog. ”Peaches N Cream” by Snoop Dogg is decent, but will – I think – not go down in history as anything close to the top tier of Snoop/Neptunes tunes.

Which leaves us with the two of 17 daytime A-List tracks that I actually enjoyed. One is “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap, which has grown on me more than any rap-club anthem since ”Tuesday”, and is officially fifty times better than ”King Kunta” by Kendrick Lamar. The second is ”Preach” by M.O., a three-girl group who I’ve never heard of before and who have done a couple of pretty forgettable tracks before this one.

M.O. – Preach (2015)

From the start the production is a cut above most of this daytime fare; weird noises and a humming refrain that recalls Timbo the king. A big 808 kicks in for the first half of the hook. Yeah, yeah, it’s alright. But 1.09 minutes in it totally suckered me with part two of the hook which is backed by these lush SWV esque chords and makes me want to cry with melancholy joy. WELL DONE.

I might look at the B and C list later if I can be bothered, but when you’re as old as I am, watching ‘Wolf Hall’ in its entirety is a more appealing prospect than listening to young people enjoying their lives, so don’t hold your breath.

Tunes That Ran My Weekend In London

RAN MY TRIP TO LONDON

On my MP3 player I have many musics and this is one of them.

Terrance Dixon – The Bionic Man (Remix) (2014)

RAN RECORD STORE DAY AT VINYL PIMP

The legendary Equinox was playing a jungle set at this record shop in Hackney Wick to celebrate Record Shop Day. I enjoyed drinking Singha beers alot while he played. Hackney Wick is weird. It’s like it’s an ex-residential area through which gangs of non-threatening hipster youths roam like feral skateboarding cats. He definitely played an early Dillinja tune and it probably wasn’t this one but this one is great so it will suffice.

Kym Mazelle – Genius (Dillinja Remix) (1995)

RAN THE PRE-PARTY

At this stage of the night I had crashed after the Singha buzz and could do little but sit on a couch drinking red wine and being assaulted by ambient guitar-feedback loops. Enjoyed it a lot, and it imparted great meaning to my baleful gazes out over the Shadwell skyline towards Great Cthulu’s Shard.

Robert Fripp – Let The Power Fall (1984)

RAN THE PARTY

Queen of Hoxton, Brackles playing nowt but bangers for a couple of hours. Beer and champagne lording it over the dancefloor level shitmunchers.

DJ Mustard feat. Fabolous & Eric Bellinger – 4 Digits (2014)

Soulja Boy – Whippin’ My Wrist (2015)

Demarco – She Can’t Wait (2009)

RAN THE AFTERPARTY

More Brackles selections tbh in a front-room which we occupied until about 8am. There was a lot of Prince tunes too and me launching into one of my ill advised contrarian rants about how Prince is shite, unfortunately can’t be documented on here cos Prince shuts down youtube videos like Michael Jackson’s ”Baby Be Mine” shuts down Prince’s entire career. #dead

Sarkodie – Down On One (2013)

3rd Vision – Girl Let Me (1996)

RAN THE JOURNEY HOME

Levon Vincent – Woman Is An Angel (2015)

Jazmine Sullivan – Mascara (2015)

More of the same, please

Raekwon – Butter Knives (2011)

Nobody in their right mind gives a single shit about the Wu’s new album, which can only be accessed by removing it from the arsehole of a silverback gorilla with chronic conspitation, or something of that sort, but maybe at least would if it was going to sound like this heater from 2011. Listening to this makes me want to revisit all the Wu’s classic 90’s material, which is actually something which all music by formerly-great artist should aspire to do. Very few artists (in any medium) manage to perfect more than one style, Of course, for a rapper like Raekwon it must seem thoroughly meaningless to repeat past glories, but – from the poor neglected listener’s perspective – he’s the ONLY one who CAN. Isn’t that a thought? Only A Tribe Called Quest can make music EXACTLY like A Tribe Called Quest circa 1993. As Oliver Twist whimpered, his gruel-stained bowl held-out before the glower of a cockney Kommandant: “Give us some more of the good stuff, you bastards!”

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.