Monday 28 February 2005 at 7:49 pm
like to give a belated big up to Nick Catchdubs, who with a mention
or two sent more traffic here than anybody else. His blog ricochets
outward to reliable manifestations of dopeness, looks original, and is
almost 5 years old--qualifying for lifetime achievement awards in
wrote the cover story on David Banner for the current Fader issue! Crooked letter crooked letter eye... As far as I'm concerned
Banner just gets hotter n hotter: I truly can't stop listening to those new
Banner tunes -- I Aint Got Nothin, etc.
(A good non-Fader piece is here. Although it's pretty much impossible to top that Murder Dog interview from '03 whose photo spread featured Banner flanked by his kin-- grandma holding a Bible, grandpa, a rifle.)
Thursday 24 February 2005 at 08:12 am
gonna be DJing in smoke-filled clubs in Holland this weekend.
Den Haag, Saturday, Nijmegen. With Warp's Milanese both dates. I
go on around 2 in Den Haag, and around 4 (!!) at Nijmegen's 2-room dance event. (somebody should play Tochnit Aleph to drugged-up ravers at 5:30am, might as well be me...)
Wednesday 23 February 2005 at 08:47 am
finished reading Hip: The History by John Leland, and William
Gibson´s Virtual Light. Nimble books. I´ve been
stunned by Gibson-- a large part of it due to his relation to future
possibilities and sci-fi-y ideas: they emerge already naturalized in
his texts, not like some precious overblown Big Concept or escapist
tech-fantasy that WIRED will tap into to raise advertising revenue.
No, the futureshock stuff is just there, part of the building blocks
of his stories, and those ideas propel the narrative almost as much
as the outward action. Like this extended engagement with The
Bridge-- benevolent anarco-badlands aka the unzoned, upwardly
ramshackle illogical conclusion to American westward frontier
expansion. The Bridge stretches on the twisted post-earthquake
remains of a bridge spanning San Fran & Oakland. Now
disenfranchised people live there. The Law´s afraid to enter,
and everything absolutely everything is recycled or resuscitated from
some previous use. Stacked up, hammered or glued or tethered in
Gibson´s Bridge is like some crazy mongrel of downtown
Osaka, a jungle filled with treehouses, Maghrebi medinas, pirate
utopia plus the scurvy, a Danish squat where survivalist
speedfreaks apply interpretive frameworks inherited from Naomi Klein
and comic books onto postindustrial plumbing applications and/or
welder-art, NYC´s Chinatown when you arrive on the Chinatown
bus from a calmer city, and what the internet might be like if
it were physical and poor.
hustlers, no straight workers and no straight queens. Gibson writes it
into existence vividly. The Bridge becomes a
medium in the story as familiar as the specific characters doin´
their thing. This fiction opens space.
book is set in a 2005 where the middle class has been ground into
extinction, where AIDS has been cured via a gay prostitute (J. D.
Shapely) who spread his non-lethal HIV strain via unprotected sex
with hundreds--inoculating them. Christianity, variously televised
and sectarian, convulses as millions believe Shapely
was Jesus. All this stuff isn´t just there for show, though,
Gibson draws it out smoothly; he´s a good writer and chooses to
set his dramas in places that don´t yet exist, technically
speaking. But he writes as naturally and coolly as if they could,
allowing the futureshock to bleed into and comment on our present.
Most public spaces have been purchased. Golden Gate park, renamed
Skywalker, now charges steep admission. Police strongarm alongside
rent-a-cop security firms. (Gibson thanks Mike Davis for the
inspiration received from Davis´ powerful riff on L.A., City
Virtual Light isn´t as
plainfacedly good as Gibson´s more recent Pattern
Recognition, (which plays out
like finely textured contemporary fiction), but it is sharp &
fresh-feeling, more woozy, very well composed.
Saturday 19 February 2005 at 3:45 pm
webbed mix of insight & haterism is being dropped on a Dissensus
grime thread, with DJ Logan Sama in one corner and music critic Simon
Reynolds in another. At some point it boils down to fake/real
arguments. Which always make me sleepy. Like attending a sociology
a black american male, I´ve got a deep ongoing distrust of
“realness”. History and context always matter, absolutely. (My
mom calls me nigger and it means nothing. You call me nigger, I fuck
you up.) But America perches atop a massive history of black people &
culture being propped up as simultaneously more real and more alien.
(If I could separate bids for realness from racist misconceptions then,
maybe then, I could keep it real with the best of 'em...) Most debates
about genuine/inauthentic bypass messy nuances of, er, reality
to achieve their points. Behind fake/real dichotomies sit creepy
social determinism & wannabe cops of the real, not to mention
hackneyed media narratives of “voice from the ghetto.”
Interesting to think about George W. Bush as a warped negative of
the realness press template. Instead of feelgood preset “look at person from the ´hood
who used their natural talent to create streetwise yet refined
art that speaks to us all”, Dubya offers a perverse inversion:
“look at this talentless child of massive privilege who tanked
several companies before becoming leader of the most
powerful empire the world has ever known.” Grim, not grime.)
to british eskimo thug music. "It's
just funny to see the self-appointed custodians of the scene getting
a bit worried that their preciously accrued subcultural capital is
going to be devalued,” explains Reynolds, “ because finally,
after several years of faffing about, the scene looks like it finally
might make it.” He´s on point. Healthy scenes need to be crowded
with poseurs and outsiders and hustlers and haters and innovators and people who bite the
innovators so fast they themselves become innovators. Any scene must crack itself
open to gain greater relevance.
continues-- “And so it starts, all the bollocks about 'who's
real grime', and who should cover it, and how.... you'd rather
have the media ignore it so you can complain about being excluded...
typical UK undergroundism self-sabotage. except that the people who
ARE actually in the scene all want to make it and cross over, they
practically talk about nothing else!”
touches on a real paradox. Prior to mixtape heat and platinum
sales, 50 Cent was only Curtis Jackson, just another black dude with a
rough life who´d taken a couple bullets, not a single photoshopped pic in his nonexistent presskit. Unless you´re
famous and “real”, unless your realness can tap into marketing
and publicity gambits and set the media abuzz, you´re just
plain real, which usually means a crap job, taxes, utility
bills, substandard heath care, TV, no love or even hate from
strangers in the blogosphere regarding your socioeconomic habitat, artistic fables,
and/or assault history.
think one of most & least “real” places in America (meaning
self-imagining) is dying rural towns: white trash,
Lynyrd Skynyrd, toxic methamphetamine kitchens, toxic boredom,
beer addiction, the Zep, who knows? The so-called street cred (aka
branding power) of predominantly black urban ghetto culture receives
constant reinforcement with ClearChannel/MTV/corporate-backed hiphop
fantasies (8 Mile as a
movie-length advert for Eminem´s melanin-deficient authenticity),
while images of poor, predominantly white heartland America are
largely absent. Hard to think about. Unreal. Despite
the raw economic reality for millions of people (many remaining faithful to the Bush camp as said camp return to screw them
over and over). Unreal, unmarketable and, like the current ban on
images of US soldiers returning in coffins, simply distasteful.
Grime is strivers´music. One of the elements of grime I find most compelling is
its beefed-up bent sincerity. Not “realness” per say, but
rather crews clashing, vibing off each other, pushing ish forward
with unreal beats and bombastic Jerry Bruckheimer-style “realist” rhymes.
[Quick cut to helicopter-on-fire careening into exploding car as
ruggedly handsome hero parachutes into speedboat piloted by
bikini-clad heroine figure courtesy of a cocaine diet. Dolby-surround
orchestra crescendo, hard pan right, quick cut...]
is why the DJ ethos--if the beat is hot, play it!--allows for such
freedom. Up-from-the-streets real or top-down fabricated inauthentic,
you play it if it´s bumpin´. You´ve probably
heard about how Afrika Bambaataa would play the Beatles, the Monkees,
and Kraftwerk alongside soul, funk jams--and in so doing helped birth
hiphop, the genre whose polished, policed halls have sparked the
fetishization of “real” more than any other.
Culture is theft and love multiplied by marketplace hustle.
thrive on functionality. If it works, use it. We cobble together contexts from fragments; the sounds we
spin become pieces in the overall vibe of a set, reflected against
crowd response, soundsystem quality or lack of it and how
that impacts the mixing, the general arc of the evening. DJing
records is like writing a story with other people´s words. The
question is never “who owned this word”? or “where did this
word grow up?”-- the only thing you need to know is if the words string together into something meaningful.
I´m not feelin´ the real/fake thing, I am hugely into the
real fake. Paris is Burning! If you haven´t seen this
documentary yet, I recommend it. Poor queer transvestite/transgender
blacks and latinos in NYC, staging strong fragile dope drag balls. Radically
vulnerable men going beyond passing, competing to see who can
strut the most convincing Executive Realness. And that´s how it is:
broke-ass black gays know better than anyone the subtleties of dress,
voice, and poise needed to exude Wall Street executive power or sexy
white womanhood. For real.
Thursday 17 February 2005 at 08:41 am
up. Isn´t Jay-Z gay? and what about Sly & Robbie? I´ve
never been to Jamaica but I know enough to know that 'Homophobia in
Jamaica' is (at the very least) a hazy swirl of bogeyman shimshams,
oceanic misogyny, unlubricated curiosity, overwrought machismo, plus oddball
taboos on cunnilingus and THC-gummed moral vision and
the emperor of Ethiopia,--despite whatever he has to say about it--is
Stevens says: “"I have seen this industry go through so many
phases of stupidity, I no longer even pay attention.”
quoted in a Village Voice article on the reggae-homophobia clash, and
GunYoga weighs in with a provocative link-ful post (that diverted me
to the hilarious Black People Love Us).
Division, title of the Voice piece, also happens to be “Russia´s oldest
and best roots reggae band” and white Williamsburgers performing
dubbed-out instrumental Joy Division
covers, who just dropped a novelty 12” on Social Registry. Talk about d(r)ubbing a dead horse..!
Wednesday 16 February 2005 at 10:19 am
feel like a spy, wandering the streets and recording in secret.
flush: finally got my greasy fingers on a pair of Soundman OKM
binaural microphones, thanks to Nat Slang in Berlin. They go in your
ears and look exactly like plain 'earbud' style headphones, but
instead of pumping sound, the delicate mics can record
everything you hear with realistic stereo separation.
useful for city & field recording, audio voyeurism, and realizing
that the urban soundscape is unbelievably polluted by car noise. In a
certain sense the futurists--Italy´s most stylish fascists--
got what they wanted: chaotic machine clatter constituting public
sound, jackhammers in the opera; automobiles are LOUD.
if cars were silent or as quiet as bikes? More people would get run
over, true, but we´d be able to hear the rich subtle soundlife normal buried under muffler roars, squealing brakes, and
wheels whoosing on pavement. Right now trying to listen to my city over
the din of cars is like listening to music with the vacuum cleaner
Monday 14 February 2005 at 8:28 pm
much touring was he doing?" She laughed. "He got to know
good drug dealers in every city in Europe. He was a fantastic
gourmand. He oozed culture. It was incredible." James twisted
around in his chair. "And what do you think of it now? With
twenty-twenty hindsight and all? I mean…"
so stoned that my eyes could pop out!" Jenn said, and shook
with a fit of giggles. Her laugh seemed self-consciously patterned
after a crow. "People just use the idea of Greek gods possession
as a way to vent their least appropriate impulses. This sort of thing
is obvious when you come from a place like I do. There's another way
to phrase it, but it would take--"
words?" he butted in.
no. More words. It would take many more words to tell it another way.
I use the easiest metaphors on people with dull imaginations. The
best way to tell it takes a whole day, starting a sunup and ending
the following sunup. That's what you might call the uncompressed
Sunday 13 February 2005 at 8:00 pm
still, stunningly disorganized
was broad-shouldered as always
staggered home to find somebody's key jammed into the lock of my
building, effectively forcing the front door open (The Spanish phrase
for this is: ˇjoder, hay que ser inepto!), I can now
return to nowherelandia. Piggybacked in, not precisely wardriven, on
books become life-rafts in the skim data stream: “content”
concretized into form, ink & woodpulp, life you can experience
without electricity or tiny fans whirring, pages thumbed or new but
already fading--this time next century all our books will be blank,
entire libraries of Lethe. Bonfires of forgetting. Or as Marías
might say, what will happen to words in books is what happens to
memories or thoughts when the person remembering or thinking them
I'm worming my way through several strong ones now, real books, the
kind you can dog-ear or set on fire: Virtual Light by William Gibson,
Hip by John Leland, that big nonfiction tome by Borges, and a dully
titled collecting of exciting poetry by Joyelle McSweeney. All quite
good, in very different ways.
Thursday 10 February 2005 at 10:13 am
be DJing at a free party in Madrid late tomorrow night with Kid606 &
others, then on Saturday I´m spinning at Berlin´s
Transmediale festival, alongside Mad Professor, DJ Marlboro, and
some Montreal Mutek-y acts (Marlboro is the O.G. Brazilian baile
funk DJ, he´s the catalyst who brought Miami bass
records back to Rio´s favelas in the 80s & has been a scene
mainstay ever since).
Tuesday 08 February 2005 at 7:32 pm
Hamburgers have agreed
to a temporary period of quiet, and Hambuger statements today may be
more rhetorical than substantive, an effort to remind Pollsters that
Hamburgers have been fighting the Icecream Man, not making
concessions to him.
But the Hamburger
rebuttals are a sharp reminder of the limits of Mr. Morton's
authority right now, even with the backing of Eddie and Joan, and of
the fragility of the declarations made today.
The Icecream Man has
made it clear that if attacks continue and Mr. Morton does little to
stop them, the Icecream Man will resume his military activity.
"One can only
have a cease-fire with a state or authority that controls security,"
a senior Icecream official cautioned here today. "You can't have
a cease-fire with armed terrorist groups, because you give them a
veto over sugar. What we have today is a cessation of violence, and
it can become something more if Morton moves to crack down" on
the militants, take away their weapons and destroy their fudge and
Mr. Morton has not yet
named a new cabinet or reformed his security forces, the Icecream Man
points out, saying: "We know he needs time, and we will give him
time, but he doesn't have a limitless amount of time."
But the day was filled
with the symbolism of renewed hopes, as the Icecream Man and Pollster
leaders sat at a large round table with their hosts, Eddie
“President” Hanley, and Joan “King” Arnolds. In the hall, the
Icecream Man's flag was displayed next to the Pollsters'. The
Icecream Man's spokesmen spun their messages on Eddie and Joan's
television stations and both Eddie and Joan announced that they would
soon return their empty cups to the Icecream Man.
Tuesday 08 February 2005 at 11:43 am
the Senegalese Egyptology
piece below now contains a Youssou N'Dour tune
& 2 tracks from Ghislain Poirier's homemade west african rap comp. Gros Beat vol.I.
Enjoy! &-- for a consisently hi-kwaality west african audioblog, check Benn loxo du taccu
Monday 07 February 2005 at 7:43 pm
telegraphs in the latest: grime anthem Forward riddim played on NYC
hiphop R&B corporate megastation Hot 97! Blazing to
say the least.
New Yorkers & non Grime nerds may have difficulty grasping the
'wow' factor of this development.., but Hot 97 is smoke in the city's lungs. It's
the station that follows you from storefront to storefront. It
cruises by with the windows rolled down. Public. Their dial digits serve as
default urban ambience. Grime is awkward, chaotic London-specific
music circulating mostly via pirate radio, small-run no artwork 12”s,
and D.I.Y. mixtapes and DVDs. Unlike everything played on Hot 97,
nobody is making much money in the grime game yet. The most
aboveground figure to US audiences is Dizzee Rascal, whose recent
album sold far worse than that of every indie band you've ever heard
of. So when the gutter-up grime jumps off via the top-down payola
frequencies of NYC's Hot 97, well, it's wild, innit?
unexpected as moral pillar Bush endorsing Tom Wolfe's smutty novel about co-ed
sex, drugs, and partying--wait, that makes a lot of sense...
on Hot 97 = bananas & hopeful for a bunch of reasons.
of them have to do with the actual music though--major label black
pop is as bugged-out as ever, and although grime has some seriously
mental productions, the Forward riddim's clubfight bounce gets the
blood stirring but dances miles away from dedicated grime bent-ness
(bass mixes/devils mixes, so solid “dilemma”, jammer's
“feedback”, anything Mondie makes using only 2 drum samples,
Davinche's warped r&b visions, etc)
would write about those reasons but tiny germs inside my body are
yelling at me.
Monday 07 February 2005 at 05:28 am
aren't there always alternatives
Saturday 05 February 2005 at 05:30 am
, ice-cream man extraordinaire (always got the scoop), is the first person to point me towards the Forward riddim video!
Clean version, but decent quality!
Catch Lethal B & Co. in a cast-off set from that Cube
movie as they spit over a now-legendary tune that, when i first got it
on white label many months ago, i labelled "southern gangsta bounce" to
distinguish it from all the other nameless grime in my crate. who knew?
Look left for Wiley & Riko in full-on
angular Lethal B dis war poetry mode.
Thursday 03 February 2005 at 5:38 pm
made unlikely friends on Rue Doudeauville in Paris by admitting, in a
Senegalese cassette shop, that I didn´t really like Youssou
N´Dour. Amazing voice, but I never really felt the music.
(Brothers in the shop took pity on my ignorance,
a bull-in-a-china-shop speaking his mind no less.) But with 2004's
Egypt album, N'Dour explored a completely new route--swapping his
mbalax afro-pop backing band for classical players from Cairo's Fathy
Salama Orchestra and trad West African instruments like the mighty kora.
Pretty, poppy Egyptian classical music intertwined with musical &
lyrical homages to Senegalese Islamic brotherhoods. Smooth &
it's dope to hear high profile intra-African fusion projects. None of
that East-meets-West monkeydancing. N'Dour's project means you get
Senegalese balafon - Egyptian ney duets and nothing remotely like
Bill Laswell smearing on reggae bass or adding quantized dancebeats,
or Peter Gabriel shoplifting. "There is nothing more
interesting than forging new styles,” says Fathy Salama, “and
nothing more exciting.” That said,
this Afro-Arab collabo remains in the category of coffeeshop world
music-- markedly inoffensive, actively pleasant, maybe your parents
dig it too. Here's a track from the album: Youssou N'Dour - Baay Niassee. Minor glitches may have crept into the mp3.
the kids in Senegal (and West Africa in general) are bumping is, of
course, HIPHOP. In 2001 my man Ghislain Poirier
spent several months in West Africa fairly immersed in the rap scene. Which is thriving. Big names in Senegalese hiphop sell
around 20,000 to 50,000 cassettes nationwide.
wonder if that takes into consideration lateral bootlegging:
bootleggers bootlegging the bootlegs? That is definitely the case
with Arabic music--umpteenth generation rai tapes and Oum Koulsoum
cassettes, the xerox hustle economy in full effect. It's probably a
translation bonus, but when Salama said “nothing more interesting
than forging new styles” maybe he meant forging as in
counterfeiting, copying, making newness appear to come from someone
or somewhere else...
it's always been, truth seeds rumor and travelers spread sound.
he was in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Abidjan (Ivory Coast),
and Dakar (Senegal), Ghislain
assembled two outstanding DIY comps of West African rap. Gros Beat
vol. I & II. The tunes comprise a mixture of cassette & CD
releases, and the material is nonstop hot. I was happily surprised at
how up-to-date the production was. Spanish hiphop production, by
comparison, bogs down at least 10 years in the past, with graceless
monosyllabic endrhyme over utterly played, kick-snare-sample
backbeats. But the African stuff Ghislain compiled could hold its own
on American charts, production-wise, with some heavy doubletime
moments and occasional nostalgia-free incorporation of traditional
structures that really push it over the edge into greatness. The
polyglot rhyming I can't say too much about, English verses are
infrequent and er, lackluster.
Here are two tunes from Gros Beat vol I. Smockey - Blues d'Afrique.
This song from Burkina Faso uses overtly 'african' samples. A gentle
feel about the production combined with the chants make it my personal
fav. Positive Black Soul are one of Senegal's more well-known rap
groups, although Ghislain's selection: Xoyma (Wolof version) displays then on an (uncharacteristically) headstrong tip. The word "hip" derived from the Wolof term hepi or hipi: to see, to open one's eyes.
Wednesday 02 February 2005 at 7:24 pm
forged an unlikely friendship with a cowboy, Dustin Hoffman lies dead
with his head propped against a glass we can't, technically, see. His
parter looks off into the distance with a screwed-up face like he's
feeling pain, then a look like he's trying to squint the future and
you can't tell if his new clothes reflect a new mind or simply the
cheapest available option.
that's not all of it. There's an image reflected in the glass: Miami!
Palm trees breeze past bungalow rows.
Tuesday 01 February 2005 at 9:14 pm
tried to figure out my take on the Iraqi elections as I browsed
subzero Cambridge on a last-minute English-language media binge.
Murky, out-of-focus thoughts. Democratic apparatus, good. Great.
Haywire civil chaos new world oilism, bad. Both the Boston
Globe and the New York Times said Iraqis
“flock” to the polls as their main headline. Flock. My
paranoid newsprint readings versus White House press machinery versus
the smudged second-generation fax called reality. Sent to the wrong
in Spain everything stood in place: the sun, the anarchy, the
complacency towards danger. I taxied by a cyclist sitting with his
face smashed in. Helmet on, everybody stared, hoping for the best but
there was so much blood, and it was way too red, livid red. The
driver of the car who had hit him looked frozen in time--not exactly
frozen, just slowed down, stuck in DJ Screw time. He might have just ruined
someone else's life and his own too. Fifty meters ahead the biker's
companions pedaled on. Lycra optimism. Health kicks. When would they
realize somebody ran their friend over?
Madrid everyone drinks Mahou beer; in Barcelona, Estrella Damm. Next
to the Damm refinery a half-constructed building had partially
collapsed, already. A lot of places here are too old or too new.
time-resistant, ornate, junkies outperformed by their pet dogs in the
shadow of a 13th century castle. Dry-wall, budget mortar,
i-beam rectilinear, the stuff impatient money builds.