As per usual (as of this summer), I’ll be holding down residential duties at Beat Research alongside DJ Flack. Here’s our smashing line-up for the month of August. Come and join the experimental party!
Aug 6 :: 5dots
Craig Davis (aka 5dots) began making music because it seemed like a good idea. Early experimental noise projects have given way to a more accessible sound, but his DJ work still reflects his scattershot roots. Dubstep to hiphop, breakcore to indie pop – he doesn’t like to play one genre at a time.
Craig is one half of Serious DJs. His most recent downloadable mix is remarkably eccentric / unorthodox chopped & screwed. Just the way we like it.
Aug 13 :: DJ C
It’s the return of DJ C, the co-creator of Beat Research himself.
Fresh off his European tour and visiting from his new digs in Chicago this home-town hero needs no introduction. After rocking giant festivals of teeming masses he’s looking forward to returning to the concentrated good vibes of the Enormous Room, his humble home away from home.
Expect all kinds of new musical treats collected from abroad, mixed with style and panache and, of course, a little of that ol’ Boston Bounce.
Aug 20 :: KID DD & Os Santos
KDOS is the musical alliance of local multi-intrumentalist Daniel D’Errico with young Brazilian percussion phenom Marcus Santos.
Reppin’ Salone (Sierra Leone), Wisconsin (Milwaukee and Madison!), and the Bay Area, DJ Boima holds down a whirled music dance party in San Fran, moving the massive with a mix of (pan-)African and (pan-)American pop / hip-hop / club / etc. Readers of this here blog might have noticed his name in a flurry of comments w/r/t “No Te Veo” not long ago. Boima’s keen, open ears sensed all sorts of West African dancepop resonances in that hopped-up, reggaetony banger.
since others have
been asking you for what you hear, I might as well ask
for you to share what you here from what the youth out
in Salone are doing.
Before I tell you what I hear here, tho, allow me to quote — at some length — Boima himself (via email) describing the poetics informing the mix:
It’s a real interesting
situation with the youth. Supposedly A LOT (maybe
most) of the youth in Freetown aren’t just unemployed,
but also not in school so they pretty much don’t have
much activity for their time. I’ve also read that the
economy is basically run by the diaspora sending money
back so there’s a definite idea that the U.S. (by
extension hip hop) is kind of like a gold mine. It’s
recently urbanized (last ten years) because of the war
and the refugee camps that have turned into
neighborhoods in the city. So maybe it’s a situation
that has the danger of becoming like Brazil, or the
Bronx in the 70’s (or Luanda, Soweto, Kingston, etc.)
I hope not, at least to spare the violence associated
with those places . From what I gather right now
violence is low, and apparently elections went off on
Saturday without a problem.
Oh.. and another thing is that reggae has always been
popular in Sierra Leone, but there’s a interesting
claim to reggae and dancehall that many Sierra
Leoneans make, due to the fact that the Freetown
Colony was settled by former Jamaicans, British and
Canadians. Many Sierra Leoneans think of reggae as
their native music and that Jamaica is a fraternal
twin of sorts, So much so that when the war happened
in 97 and I was supposed to go visit with my father
and brothers, we cancelled the trip and ended up going
to Jamaica instead, because my dad felt like it was
the next best thing.
As far as the mix goes, I included a variety of songs
from my dad’s old songs that I listened to as a kid,
the new youth stuff, and rap from 50 cent and
Juvenille. I included American hip hop for three
reasons. One is the names of the songs. Just a lil’
bit, Casualties of War, Get your hustle on are all
titles that evoke thoughts of the current state of
affairs over there. Second, American hip hop is
popular in Sierra Leone. And third American hip hop
is popular in America. (So de people dem buy.)
I hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think.
Of course, I’d like to know what you think, too (as would, I’m sure, Boima).
But here’s what I think at the moment. I really dig the way “Diamonds” offers up such a deeply personal & explicitly perspectival (if u will) sonic representation of Sierra Leone, mixing so many disparate styles and making it all make sense (of place). In that way (if I may) it’s not unlike my own attempts to represent the Boston soundscape and, accordingly, to revisit and revise my own (and maybe some sympathetic others’) imagination of our fair (and unfair) city.
It also occurs to me that to ask a question which reared its ugly head in my own ugly head at a certain juncture in the mix — i.e., is this mixtape utterance (if u will again) an African or an American speech music act? — is to employ the wrong operator entirely. It’s not a question of or, I don’t think. Better to hear it as what it is, or at least what it sounds like (to me, yes): as Africa and America intimately & inextricably intertwined, in constant if uneven conversation, vividly voiced by Boima in his own idiosyncratic way & contemporary accent — an American accent as well as, as dead prez say about 12.5 minutes in, a African accent.
And, yuh dun know, a Jamaican accent too. Indeed, the prominent way the Caribbean figures here reminds me to remind you that when I say American, I mean that in the broadest sense. Once again we hear how hip-hop travels together with dancehall, crossing roots and routes as per usual.
So, that’s a few of the things I hear here (or to be precise, a few of the things I heard as I let the mix move me on a sunny afternoon in Cambridge). But what about you? & where and when and why?
Even in the middle (or, at this point, toward the end) of some well-needed Beach Research, I’m happy to note that several dear interlocutors have been continuing the conversations here — and taking them in interesting directions.
Oneleven, aka El Polaco Bombero, riffs on “la voz laina” in response to our discussion of nasal-tinged reggaetoneros, drawing on his longtime participant-observation in the diasporic bomba scene to offer some illuminating — if perhaps “poetic”? — insights.
Flack won’t be there tonight, but I’m happy to report that 5dots will. Hailing from the DC area, 5dots (aka Craig) is the guy who handed me a CD of homespun beats that bristled & banged at the Future of Music summit a couple yrs ago. He & his mate Alex concoct mixes as Serious DJs, spanning jungle, hip-hop, pop, & elecctronnikka, and have put together a couple original screw sets to boot.
Apparently, when the Serious boys were in town last summer, their screwy music was not well received. (I, alas, was home with a wicked cold.) Craig says he won’t play any screw this time. Unless he’s asked. Well, I’ve already asked him, so consider yourself warned. Nothing like some slow, syrupy sounds on these sluggish summer nights.
I’m gonna take adventure of the vibe-coincide and finally cook down some rebajadas of my own.
But allow me to close by noting that next week will see the return to the Enormous Room decks of Beat Research co-founder, DJ C. Not only is it always great to have Jake around (since we changed places, he off to Chicago for a while), it’s especially exciting as next week’s Beat Research session will also serve as the Boston-area release party for his new (debut!) album, Sonic Weapons. Japan’s Wimm Recordings is releasing the album, and I’m excited to disclose that I make an appearance via DJ C’s raggafied remix of “A It Dat.”
Many readers here are no doubt acquainted with the sonic weaponry of DJ C. He’s been rocking parties from Boston to Berlin for years now and is a founding member of the famed Toneburst Collective. I’ve been srsly digging his beats for a while now, constantly impressed with how Jake puts his distinctive stamp on so many styles — never mind cooking up a few of his own.
So let me say this: you want to get ahold of this album. It will kill dancefloors everywhere. It’s loaded with creative, interesting, and very danceworthy music. It’s a labor of love. & you’ll be supporting an artist who deserves the support.
Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Cultural Studies
University of the West Indies, Mona Campus
Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference 2008: www.crossroads2008.org
To which I replied:
This one’s (more) interesting (to me right now)! Whereas the last one you sent (which I blogged back in April) seems fairly typical to me in terms of kwaito musical style and perhaps dance style (though it’s obviously quite well choreographed, and to be honest I know far less about kwaito dance), this one seems rather atypical in a number of ways. Musically, it reminds me a lot more of kuduro (that style from Angola I was telling you about) and even Chicago Juke (which a commenter notes as well); you might hear it as similar to soca, which also has some musical overlap with this particular track.
It’s only the drum track that suggests that to me, however; the singing seems a lot more characteristically South African (and perhaps the melodic/keyboard elements, though I’m not sure). Some of the group dancing reminds me of the wedding video — looks like similar moves/choreography, which suggests (to me) that that’s closer to kwaito style. Some of the moves, though, especially the solo dancing, seem to me to perhaps be inspired by Jamaican dances (such as the butterfly-ish stuff at around 3:30). Lots of dance styles being drawn upon here, it seems. Around 4:15 it looks to me like some classic breakdance / robot / bboy stuff — if with a little more bounce in it (those “inverting” feet [there's probably a better term -- my dance vocab is rather impoverished]). Finally, toward the end (around 4:36) there’s some back-to-front grinding that could easily pass for perreo, or just good ol’ win(d)in’, freakin’, jukin’, you-name-it. Great montage! (But I really don’t know what to make of that whole laborer / overseer series of scenes, esp the dancing-in-the-fields denouement.)