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ragudave (COLLECTED NONFICT…): Jace et al, Give Scriptgenerator by Philippe Vas…
Alex (african mp3s up): Are these Gros Beat CDs purchaseable online somewhe…
satyricon (african mp3s up): Grammy winner last night... Best Contemporary Worl…
satyricon (Party People FYI): noticed BTTB is hosting a dj set of yours on the 15…
muggerwithknife (GRIME 97): this is pretty crazed. a few weeks ago 2 friends of…
V-M (MIDNIGHT COWBOY): I love that film, to me its about escapism and the …
blip (Party People FYI): You ship see Marboro at a festival I also djed at i…
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jc (SENEGALESE EGYPTO…): toby- great link!, thanks for the correction. the w…
toby (SENEGALESE EGYPTO…): hey jace, hate to play the meme cop, but when i fir…


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words by jace. some mp3s & annoted photos from time to time.

vinyl rescue service


Many thanks for/to the great comments here, from Madrid graf IDs to Rafi B dropping science on how rhyming and toasting bring local accent/slang/inflections to the fore while singing tends to flatten. In “Pull Up Our Pants: Reggaeton Breakdown”, Alberto answered Sizzle's question about “tra”'s Spanish meaning: “A few years back, Don Chezina made the phrase popular by making a reggaeton song that only said "Tra" for 3 minutes. I have heard some people say that the original Tra song is a DJ mix of a live performance where Chezina was imitating the sounds of the snare drum... One can imitate the drumroll saying "traaa".
     Just so happens that I've got the original Don Chezina “Tra” song Alberto mentioned. Lots of layers in this unlikely hit: a DJ remix of a live gig recording where Chezina was imitating a snare, bootlegged onto a vinyl EP called Reggaeton Trax vol. I.
   This tune is mad raw to begin with, and the idea that he's riffing on a snare sound makes it even wilder, epic & frantic, more avant-garde. If you thought Lethal B's Forward riddim was too refined, then “Tra Tra Tra” is 4 u.


# 3.   First off: pretty much nobody who bothers to write up a "top X albums of the year" list actually buys albums. Most of them are journalists, which means they receive free copies from publicists hired by the artists/labels to repeatedly bug media workers to generate buzz about said albums.
    A significant chunk of what you've read online or off- is basically rehashed "one-sheet" prose. Publicists send out info sheets along with the album, explaining the music, giving context and suggesting spin angles, hyping the CD using metaphors and comparisons and imagery that inevitably get recycled into reviews and writeups. (Happens so frequently it's funny; writers must absorb one-sheet images subconsciously.) And not just in music, of course--unimaginative journalists crib from publicity sheets all over: film, literature, news. In Washington it turns into lobbyists, and things go really haywire. In every big city you'll find a bookstore specializing in reviewer's copies of books: reviewers get free promo editions, read them, then sell 'em. Lots of CD shops turn the same trade.
    Then there are the DJs like myself, who buy tons of vinyl singles yet only shell out cash for a full album when there's a song on it that we really want to play live.
    Then there are the hardcore music fans with a reasonably well-paying day job, honorable folks who actually purchase CDs by artists they like. These same people probably vote regularly in local and national elections, and if their savings aren't tucked away in some sensible investment portfolio yet, they will be soon. Everybody else downloads everything. The only CDs we buy are blank.

#1 My first problem with top 10 music lists is that applying hierarchies to artistic endeavors is absurd at best. It's like talking about the weather using superlatives ("April 9th was the best sunny day of 2004!").
 I'm not into dudes with big record collections pretending they can build a canon, or even wanting to try. 

#2 My second problem with top 10 lists is that when music is hottest and most interesting it isn't concerned with being "the best". "The best" is always retrospective. Good music is always ahead. If you want taxidermy & placards explaining it all, go to a natural history museum. (A few years back they finally removed the stuffed dead African "Black Man" on display here in Cataluyna Spain).

    More broadly, music moves in currents. For example, grime & dancefloor breakcore were cool this year, but neither genre coughed up any albums that captured the excitement of the scene it stemmed from. Both scenes flourish around singles, mixtapes, parties, radio shows, and stoned producers who rock out with their mini-entourage in the attic or basement of Mum's house, towel jammed under the door so she don't smell the skunk.

    Albums coming from hot scenes tend to arrive long after the heat has moved on. Dizzee's debut CD hit so hard because it was many listeners' first grime immersion. His 2nd album paled in comparison for a lot of reasons--namely substandard beats, but his former companions blazed ahead making crazy brilliant half-music, shooting off whitelabel singles and one-off dubplates, agile and warped and fast, while expensive ads for Rascal's Showtime album lumbered by on the sides of London doubledecker buses.

    This year I heard a lot of hype grime mixtapes (Logan Sama, Lord of the Mic, etc) & pirate broadcasts (Flex, Jah Mek the World, many more), and I saw a lot of amazing breakcore (Snares, Sickboy, Shitmat DJing). But albums that channeled or redirected the wild energy of sketchy FM transmissions or singed bass on overworked soundsystems... Not really.

#5 The whole "album" concept when looked at via the popular narratives of music criticism makes little sense. There's a contrived, quietly racist division between music that is naive native genius aka "street" (i.e. raw, unselfconscious, stylized representations of a lifestyle that happens in a neighborhood where you would either be afraid to rent an apartment or where you want to rent an apartment because it's edgy/has colored people living there) and music that is more brainy, less populist, less real. One of the main ways these straw-men categories are reinforced is by people condemning the latter for mistakes while praising the former for doing the same thing, and vice-versa.

    When Kayne West raps about buying furniture at IKEA it's a big deal, he's breaking rules and upending conventions via behind-the-scenes confessions--look, it's a bear suit!; whereas when Anticon raps about anything at all the same people couldn't care in the least. It's good to keep an eye out for what artists can break the (unspoken?) rules and what artists people don't think any rules apply to. Rules behind the rules is what we're trying to crack here.

    Another example of the attempts to differentiate into existence “street music” & “bedroom music”: both breakcore and grime are weird, oftentimes abrasive peripheral dance musics being made by a handful of in-the-know producers and released through tight DIY distribution networks. But critical consensus is quick to praise grime as raw/street/populist and breakcore as individualist/bedroom even when, in absolute terms, breakcore records are selling better, the genre is more widespread and grassroots and internationally-catchy than grime. (It's like survival of the least fit!) The categorization is goofy but yes, I believe the world's 'street' is vibing more with breakcore right now.

   Hmmm.. I don't remember how all this relates to reason #5... Maybe something about how albums are hastily cast, either/or style, as individual gems of idiosyncratic brilliance or shiny platinum-selling metonyms from a vibrant subaltern culture. ???

#4 My fourth problem with top 10s is my lack of a problem. People ask me to write Top 10 lists, I oblige. Everybody needs filters. Everybody has new stuff to learn from people whose tastes they trust.

#6 Problem number six: why start & stop at music? I want to see anybody's Top 10 Scary Pieces of Legislation Passed in 2004. Or the Top 10 Non-imaginary Threats to Healthy Democracies in 2004. And if people really wanna boast about how cool they are, instead of naming a bunch of musicians and rappers, why not the Top 10 Things I Did to Make A Globally Horrible Year Slightly Less Horrible.

     I, for one, didn't do anything, hence all this talk about music. . .


Fleet-footed Hermes, messenger to the gods, had developed a mean amphetamine habit.

He zipped around wearing dark sunglasses, either rushing to get the letters delivered on time--god of the crossroads, god of the lonely inbox--or letting them pile up on his kitchen table, next to the unwashed dishes, the open-pizzas boxes, the little cardboard boxes of Chinese takeout, the tiny persistent cockroaches, the worn-out winged New Balance sneakers, the eternal sweatpants, and lately, piles and piles of texts refuting polytheism. His latest step towards self-negation was a whole-hearted embrace of monotheistic precepts. Zeus thought the magic postman had fried his brain on acid or even mushrooms: effectively legal in England, so long as you buy them fresh (not dried or prepared in any way). Hermes (or Mercury) would certainly know this since he was, even now, an avid reader of British tabloid press; the other gods watched television from Olympus. They had at least 17,000 channels of tasteless human programming to choose from, and it's safe to say that they were hooked.