Saturday, July 17, 2021

grime 2005

Blackdown (aka Martin Clark) asks me and a bunch of grime-covering journalists about our favorite tunes of the year. 

Here's what I supplied (not sure why some US rap tunes have slipped into my selection):

Kano Featuring D Double E & Demon, "Reload It"

Lethal Bizzle "Against All Oddz"

Kano "Sometimes"

Bruza "Not Convinced"

Three 6-Mafia "Stay Fly"

Vex'd “Degenerate” (Planet Mu)

Skream "Midnight Request Line"

Doctor, Bearman, L Man and Purple "Let It Go" From Eye Of The Tiger Vol 1

Virus Syndicate "Major List MCs" From The Work Related Illness

Roll Deep "Shake A Leg" and "When I'm Ere"

Lowdeep "Str8 Flush"

Crazy Titch "Sing Along"

SLK "Hype! Hype!" (DJ Wonder refix)

Lady Sovereign "Tango" from Bitchin EP

Ying Yang Twins "Pull My Hair" and "Wait (The Whisper Song)"

Kano "Remember Me"

Wiley "Morgue"

Kanye West  - "Addicted," "Crack Music", "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" (From Late Registration)

I also slung Martin this little appreciation of "Reload It" (strangely not admired by others in the grime punditocracy, don't know why) which I had penned for Grime Primer I did for the Wire earlier that year (aka the 7th essay in the Hardcore Continuum series)

Kano Featuring D Double E & Demon, "Reload It"

“Circling back to "Bound 4 The Reload" (arguably the first grime track, no seriously, think about it: electro-bass plus MCing) this track celebrates the pirate and rave tradition of the DJ rewind, when the crowd hollers (or home-listening audience text-messages) its demand for the selector to wheel and come again.”

“Up until grime, the trigger for rewinds would be a killer sampled vocal lick, thrilling bass-drop, or even just a mad breakbeat. Nowadays, the MC being king, the crowd clamors to hear their favourite rhymes. ‘This is what it means when DJs reload it/That sixteen was mean and he knows it,’ explains Kano, before listing the other top dog MCs who get nuff rewinds (two of them, Double and Demon, guest on the track). ‘I get a reload purely for the flow,’ Kano preens, and you can see why as he glides with lethal panache between quick-time rapping and a leisurely, drawn-out gait that seems to drag on the beat to slow it down.”

“The track itself, co-produced by Kano and Diplo, is all shimmery excitement, pivoting around a spangly filtered riff that ascends and descends the same four notes, driven by a funky rampage of live-sounding drums, and punctuated by horn samples, Beni G's scratching, and orgasmic girl-moans. The old skool breakbeat-like energy suggests an attempt to sell the notion of Grime as British hip hop, yet if Trans-Atlantic crossover is the intent, that's subverted by the lyric, its theme being as localized and Grime-reflexive as imaginable. "Reload It" encapsulates the conflicted impulses that fuel this scene: undergroundist insularity versus an extrovert hunger to engage with, and conquer, the whole wide world.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The A to Z of the Eighties - A Definitive Guide to the Decade (SR contributions only) - Melody Maker December 23-30 1989

This was great fun to do but arduous - as a staff writer, you had to do your Herculean bit for these big package features -  there's about 40 or so micro-essays from me here, super-distilled little takes on phenomena, figures, fads of the '80s - some of my favoritest scenes and sounds, and some of my least favoritest scenes and sounds. 

I'm not sure if any research as such was done - where could you go to do it in those days? There was no internet, there might have been some old magazines lying round the house, but no reference works on the '80s as such. So it mostly was all pulled from my memory, sharper then, and dealing with quite recent stuff - but still,  no doubt some errors crept in there on the factual front.  

Talking of errors - as they're non-bylined, and this is over thirty years ago, I'm like 97% certain these are all by me, but apologies if I've accidentally trawled in something by Stubbsy or the Studs. 

Of course other writers got to do things I would have liked to cover, so it's not a total Zeitgeist-scan according to Moi, but .... not that far off, actually.  

It's how I saw things precisely then - the winter of '89 - and  not always necessarily how I see them today, or indeed how I saw them within a year or two of writing.


Friday, June 11, 2021

faves of the 2010s - tracks

These were my votes for best tracks of the second decade of the 21st Century in the Pitchfork poll of critics

Placement wise, there was some strategic voting going on here - and at the bottom I've added rather a lot of things I thought of later that I either should have included but forgot, things that rose in my estimation in the last year or so, and some that I didn't actually hear until after the decade ended.   

Unlike with albums, there's vastly less of the "critic head" here - tracks are about a pure hit of pleasure, rather than metrics like artistic ambition or approving of what the group is aiming for or other non-hedonic criteria. This is the stuff where I turn up the volume when it comes on the radio.

1 Future: Fuck Up Some Commas  

2 Ke$ha: We R Who We R  

3 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: "Round and Round" 

4 Migos: T-Shirt  

5 Sage the Gemini: Gas Pedal  

6 Travis Scott: Goosebumps  

7 Migos: Slippery  

8 Haim: Honey and I  

9 Young Thug: "Constantly Hating" [ft. Birdman]  

10 Rae Sremmurd: Black Beatles  

11 Gotye: Somebody That I Used to Know [feat Kimbra]  

12 Tinashe: "2 On" [ft. Schoolboy Q]  

13 eMMplekz: Gloomy Leper Techno  

14 Migos: Top Down on Da NAWF  

15 Vampire Weekend: Diplomat's Son  

16 Future: All Right  

17 The Weeknd : Low Life [ft. Future]  

18 Migos: MotorSport  

19 Metronomy: The Look  

20 Maria Minerva: A Little Lonely  

21 Rae Sremmurd feat. Nicki Minaj: Throw Sum Mo  

22 Kanye West: Black Skinhead  

23 Schoolboy Q: Studio  

24 Jeremih: "Oui"  

25 Lorde: "Royals"  

26 Kendrick Lamar: "Swimming Pools (Drank)" 

27 Loski x Russ x Taze : Olympic Chinging  

28 Migos: Bosses Don't Speak  

29 Dev: In the Dark  

30 Chief Keef: On the Corner  

31 Bruno Mars: Locked Out of Heaven  

32 Tyga: Rack City  

33 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: White Freckles  

34 Migos: "Bad and Boujee"  

35 Travis Scott: Antidote  

36 One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful  

37 21 Pilots: Stressed Out  

38 Future: I'm So Groovy  

39 Schoolboy Q: Collard Greens  

40 Carns Hill: Waps (Remix) (feat. Monkey, Dimzy, R6 & Youngs Teflon)  

41 Drake: One Dance (feat. Wizkid and Kyla)  

42 Rae Sremmurd: No Type  

43 Lil Wayne: Knockout (feat. Nicki Minaj)  

44 Desiigner: Panda  

45 Ty Dolla $ign: Paranoid [ft. Joe Moses] 

46 Zomby: Mercury's Rainbow  

47 Tame Impala: Elephant  

48 Eartheater: Inclined  

49 J Hus: "Did You See"  

50 Die Antwoord: Jou Ma Se Poes In 'n Fishpaste Jar  

What's missing: 

Sophie - "Faceshopping"

Billie Eilish - "Bad Guy"

Geneva Jacuzzi - Love Caboose

Mark Van Hoen - "Holy Me"

Big Sean - "Dance (A$$)"

Big Sean - Beware

Big Sean - Bounce Back

A dozen more Migos tunes frankly 

Icona Pop  "I Love It"

Kendrick Lamar - ‘bitch don’t kill my vibe’

Lorde - Teams

Post Malone, "Rockstar"

Lil Wayne - How to Love

regrettably some Chris Brown tunes ('Loyal' etc)

Ty Dolla Sign - "Paranoid" 

Daft Punk - Fragments of Time, Contact, the one with Panda Bear on

more Ariel Pink - Menopause Man, "Stevepink Javascript feat. R. Stevie Moore", the Ethiopian tune he done ripped off on Before Today,  etc

Pharrell - Happy

Several more Travis Scott tunes

Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines

Actress, 'Supreme cunnilingus'

Giggs - Lock Doh feat. Donae'o

Giggs and Mr Eazi – London Town

Giggs and Donaeo – Linguo 

Giggs - Monsta Man

La Roux - In for the Kill

La Roux - Bullet Proof 

Etta James featuring Flo Rida, “Good Feeling”

Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass”, "Beez in the Trap"

Maria Minerva, “Hagasuxzzavol” 

D'Angelo - Prayer

lots more DJ Mustard bits

Kesha - Blow, 

Kesh - Backstabbers (technically 2009 I think, fuck it)

Rihanna - Cheers

Aphex Twin - Original Chaos Riff (technically a reissue or archival first-issue, fuck it)

Bon Iver and James Blake - Creek Fall Boys Choir

More Young Thug

More Chief Keef

More UK drill

Far East Family, "Like A G6

Oneohtrix Point Never - Preyouandi

Lana Del Ray, "Video Games"

YG – Big Bank

YG - Why ya always hatin'

MGMT - several, obvious things, but particularly "When You Die"

James Blake - If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead 

Daphne & Celeste - You and I Alone

The Inhuman League - You Were Working as a Waitress in A Cocktail Bar

Naomi Elizabeth - the Topic is Ass

Holly Herndon  - Fear, Uncertainty Doubt 

Ariel Pink - Another Weekend  

Jeremih - Royalty

Y.G., "Toot It and Boot It"

Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kids"

Gesaffelstein, "Piece of Future"

John Foxx & the Belbury Circle, "Almost There"

Nightshift, “Made You Look (Hugo Massien Remix)”

Ariel Pink, “Put Your Number In My Phone”

Theo Nasa, “Area 51”

Area 8, “On My Level” 

The Weeknd, "The Hills" 

Let’s Eat Grandma, “Eat Shiitake Mushrooms”

David Bowie, "Blackstar"

---- "Where Are We Now"

Mike Posner, “Pill in Ibiza”

Fat Joe/Remy Ma/French Montana / Infrared, "All the Way Up"

Yo Gotti, “Down in the DM”

Lil Uzi Vert, "XO Tour Llif3"

Rich the Kid, "Plug Walk"

Gucci Mane featuring Migos, "I Get the Bag"

 Miguel featuring Travis Scott, "Sky Walker"

Laibach, "The Lonely Goatherd"

Sunday, June 6, 2021

faves of the 2010s - albums

These were my votes for best albums of the second decade of the 21st Century in the Pitchfork poll of critics

Placement-wise, there was some strategic voting going on here - and at the bottom I've added some things I thought of later that I either should have included but forgot, or got into after the decade ended.   

A lot of these albums, when I look them, especially as we get further down beyond the Top 30 - they're really there for one, or maybe two, tracks that are so immense in my mind that they bring the rest of the record along with them. And although I do my best to fight against it (occupational hazard of the professional critic this), a few have managed to creep in there that are admirations, rather than things  that induce voluptuous delight and are actively listened to repeatedly. 

1 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Before Today

2 Migos: Culture

3 Haim: Days Are Gone 

4 Future: Dirty Sprite 2 

5 Metronomy : The English Riviera

6 eMMplekz: Rook To TN34

7 Various: Bangs and Works Vol 1: A Chicago Footwork Compilation

8 Travis Scott: Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight

9 Rangers: Suburban Tours

10 Migos : Culture II

11 Vampire Weekend: Contra 

12 Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal 

13 Maria Minerva: Tallinn At Dawn

14 Gonjasufi: A Sufi and a Killer

15 Ariel Pink: Pom Pom 

16 Moon Wiring Club: When A New Trick Comes Out, I Do An Old One

17 Rae Sremmurd: SremmLife 

18 Rustie: Glass Swords 

19 Kanye West: Yeezus 

20 Let's Eat Grandma: I, Gemini

21 Assembled Minds: Creaking Haze and Other Rave Ghosts

22 Moon Wiring Club: A Fondness For Fancy Hats ~ Soft Confusion

23 Hybrid Palms: Pacific Image

24 D.D. Denham: Electronic Music in the Classroom

25 Traxman: Da Mind of Traxman

26 Young Thug: Barter 6 

27 Future: Purple Reign

28 eMMplekz Your Crate Has Changed: Your Crate Has Changed

29 Future: Future

30 Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d city

31 Ekoplekz: Four Track Mind

32 Moon Wiring Club: Cateared Chocalatiers

33 Amnesia Scanner: Another Life

34 eMMplekz: You Might Also Like

35 Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Kid

36 D'Angelo / The Vanguard: Black Messiah

37 Proc Fiskal: Insula

38 Mica Levi: Under the Skin OST

39 Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica 

40 David Bowie: Blackstar

41 Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes

42 Moon Wiring Club: Today Bread, Tomorrow Secrets

43 Actress: Splazsh

44 The Knife: Shaking the Habitual

45 Moon Wiring Club: Playclothes from Faraway Places

46 Future: Evol

47 Baron Mordant: Mark of the Mould

48 Young Echo: Nexus

49 Jlin: Black Origami

50 Die Antwoord: $O$

Should have added; 

Eartheater – Isiris 

Lo Five - Geography of the Abyss 

The Caretaker end of time epic

Ekoplekz, Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1

KWJAZ, s/t

Kang Ding Ray, Or

Jon Brooks, Music for Thomas Carnacki

More Moon Wiring Club!

More Ekoplekz!

Any eMMplekz records I didn't include above!

Oneohtrix Point Never -   R Plus 7

Arca - Xen (impressively mutated and unpleasant!)

some Lee Gamble - the jungle-revenant one certainly

Chino Amobi - Paradiso

David Bowie, The Next Day (mostly for the first single off it really)