Allow me to remind that next WEDNESDAY, July 25, Beat Research will play host, in the Good Life’s booming basement, to a full-blown reunion of Boston’s legendary Toneburst Collective.
Bubbling up from Boston’s underground during the late 1990s, Toneburst was a loose-knit crew of DJs, electronic musicians, and video and installation artists, who together produced approximately 20 large-scale multimedia events in offbeat locations around New England and New York. More carnival than rave or concert, the crew’s productions mixed experimental beats, video, and performance art in unorthodox spaces. Beyond throwing great parties, Toneburst provided a platform for such influential acts as Kid 606, Weâ„˘, Keith Fullerton Whitman (aka Hrvatski), and DJ /Rupture (a founding member).
Indeed, let me turn it over to Sir /Rupture himself, who posted this brief recollection a few years back:
on the quickâ€“ it started in the Boston area late 1996, mostly seeded by a collaboration btwn a group of friends & artists mostly at Massachusetts College of Art and Harvard, who met via music, with the particular help of Boston’s great radio scene. The first wave of Toneburst event producers/djs/video & installation artists were: DJ C, DJ Flack, Jenn L, Lynn S, Mike ESP, Sasha C-S, Rafi L, Embryo, Alex R, me (DJ Rupture), with the support from a Gene S and Vincent from WZBC’s NCP radio shows and a LOT of other people. we really were a collective.
Later on we met with Hrvatski and Moosaka/Professor/Radioactive of StreetForest Music and all sorts of other heads. Over the years we put out 2 CD comps, the first one of DJ Câ€™s first label, Bliss, the second one a free CD-r giveaway.
we were inspired by common linkages and energies and readiness to shake things up (this wasnt organized around genre or even artistic medium) and determined to fight boston’s stodginess and segregationâ€“cool stuff on radio and our community was filled with artists, but no physical space to manifest & throw offbeat events. we started & remained nomadic, trying to do “monthly experimental audio-visual adventures”. all our parties were $5 or less entrance fees. no merchandising, sometimes we’d even have a ‘noise toys’ improv room where you’d get a discount if you brough a cheap noisemaking toy.
DJ C was doing groundbreaking live dubby d&b, Embryo was on a live junglehop vibe, i had a radio show, Spool was more on live idm vibe, Jenn did amazing graphic design & video, Lynn specialized in installations, etc, it all just kinda gelled..
basic early format was a more beats/dancing room and a more experimental/listening room, always pretty eclectic and very open-ended, with lots of video and environment-transforming installations.
at our first Toneburst party performers& event producers outnumbered audience! we made an impact over the course of a few years (dwindling as people graduated and gravitated elsewhere, boston’s scourge of transience).
strangers still come up to me and talk about the Toneburst days.
Some credit is due to our friend Slide, who had been an undergrad student in the Harvard electronic music studio, and in the mid â€™90s was attending grad school at Massachusetts College of Art, in the Studio for Interrelated Media. She was organizing a series of experimental events at the time called The Passing Show, which brought together people from Harvard, MassArt, and elsewhere. It was through those events that I (DJ C) met up with Sasha C-S (/splice) and Rafi L (Together they formed Embryo). I was working on my Electro Organic Sound System project at the time, and when I heard Embryoâ€™s ambient-dub infused jungle experiments, I knew I had found kindred spirits. They were the ones who introduced me to Jace (/rupture) who at that time was doing a great radio show on WMBR, the MIT radio station. The first party I did with those guys was called Electro Organic Sound System vs. Embryo, and took place in Gloucester, MA at a place called Artspace. Most of the people who would form the core of the Toneburst collective were there, including /rupture, Mike ESP and Xrae (Spool), Jenn L (Jade), Lynn S, as well as some great DJs from WZBC, the Boston College radio station. By the end of that night a bunch of us had decided to try and keep doing this kind of thing, in alternative spaces, on a semi-regular basis.
Jace, Mike, Raffi, Sasha, and maybe some of the others, had been to Soundlab parties and were really inspired. Jace, Sasha and I started a torrent of emails trying to decide where our first event would be and what it would be called. Jace came up with the name Toneburst (taken from the name of a Stereolab tune). We did our first event called Toneburst at Artspace. I think it was in Oct. â€™96. The next month we did an other Toneburst event, this time our first in Boston (Alston). From there it took off, and as time went on we accrued members like DJ Flack, Aaron Spectre, Hrvatski, Moosaka (with Radioactive and Professor Shuman), and many many more.
At their peak the Toneburst parties were brining in 8-900 people to bask in the immersive environments. Ahh the good oleâ€™ days!
No nostalgia, but we’ll be revisiting and re-imagining those good ol days in fine style next week. And let me say, as a former attendee and admirer of their parties, and someone who has since had the good fortune to find myself part of the extended family, I’m just thrilled this is happening. Wouldn’t miss it for the world — and if you happen to be one of the few still in the Boston area this time of year, neither should you!
Oh, and if you need any more motivation, next week’s show will include the premiere of Avuncular Bass, a trio comprising myself and DJ Pace (both triggering samples) and the mighty DJ Flack (playing an instrument he invented, a sort of analog bass synth on a stick, which I insist on calling the “bass stick”). We’re a veritable band! Really! We’ve even been rehearsing. Trust me, it’s gonna be special.
In addition to our trio, we’ll have a real fine crew lending their magic to the night, including DJ C, Hrvatski, DJ Ripley, Splice (aka MIT’s schock), Iriela, Brynmore and a very special surprise /guest!
Summer vibes really on lock all a sudden, eh? Boston tropical and ting! (In fact, the main reason I’m finally getting around to writing this post — best intentions notwithstanding — is on account of IT IS TOO HOT TO SLEEP.)
The dog daze arrived just in time, tho, for I’m delighted to report that this very evening, FRIDAY JUNE 22, on only the second or so night of summer, I’ll have the pleasure of plumbing some seasonal depths by playing what has become, hands down, my favorite dance party in town: PicĂł Picante. And alongside no less than my pardner-in-beatresearch, DJ Flack, & other local luminaries —
Can’t wait! Nuff props to Pajaritos for making the space. It’s really an honor to finally get behind the decks (if while triggering a laptop) to rock the reliably great crowd they rally. You’ll find few sessions in Boston as welcoming and warm. Expect plenty reggae/ton from me. Time to get some dembow into dem bones!
The second gig I want to mention here isn’t actually mine at all, but it’s well worth your consideration — and as it happens, it’s being put on c/o two good friends: Pacey “Library of Vinyl” Foster and local author Elijah Wald (who, I’m pretty tickled to say, was a student in my global hip-hop course this spring).
Elijah is a real polymath and a serious scholar, and when he sets out to write about something — whether the blues or narcocorridos — he sure digs deep. His last book, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock’n'Roll, is an indispensable history of US popular (dance) music during the first half of the twentieth century, no less worth your time for its polemical title (which is really more of a subtext).
I’m pleased to note that Elijah’s new book bears at least as provocative a title as the last, especially for those of us who grew up a little closer to hip-hop than r’n'r —
This new tome, hot off the presses, is the subject of Elijah’s talk this Sunday night at Pace’s place (accompanied by germane musical selections by the vinyl-librarian himself), the first of what I hope will be many such “salons” Pacey hosts at his awesome East Cambridge loft. Here’s the deets:
“The Dirty Dozens: From Mississippi Blues to Gangsta Rap”
A talk/listening session with Elijah Wald, author of “The Dozens: A History of Rap’s Mama”
Sunday, June 24, 8-10 PM
Library of Vinyl Experience @ The Chicken Loft (above the “Live Poultry Fresh Killed” sign)
613 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA. 02141
$5 Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets
Snacks and beverages will be available. Also copies of the new book.
Limited to 30 People! Get your tickets now to reserve your spot.
DJ Pace will be spinning dirty classics before and after the talk. Friend the new Library of Vinyl on Facebook for information about this and future events.
And here’s a little about the book, including some pretty killer blurbage:
A century before gangsta rappers took dirty rhyming to the top of the charts, Mississippi barrelhouse pianists were singing lyrics as hardcore as anything in the rap canon. In fact, they were singing some of the same lyricsâ€”the nasty insult rhymes known as â€śthe dozens.â€ť A form of verbal dueling popular in rural fields and on urban streets, the dozens is one of the basic building blocks of African American vernacular virtuosity, and has overlapped into pop songs, comedy routines, instrumental cutting sessions, and rap freestyle battles.
Tracing back to African ritual poetry, the dozens is part of a vast tradition of unashamedly sexual verse that consistently flourished in African diaspora communities but rarely surfaced on record or in print, except in heavily censored or bowdlerized versions. Some popular rhymes have endured in oral culture since the nineteenth century, turning up in the work of artists as disparate as Jelly Roll Morton, Zora Neale Hurston, George Carlin, and Flavor Flav.
“This book is sexy… and poignant, smart and a piece of history.”
“This impeccably researched study of the classic black insult game may be the funniest work of serious scholarship ever published.”
–Terry Teachout, Artsjournal
“The Dozens are in very good hands here. Wald gives them the detailed, broad, and serious consideration they have long deserved.”
–Tricia Rose, author of Black Noise and The Hip Hop Wars
Maybe I’ll see you or your mom there?
Finally, I just want to remind that we’ve got our next session of Beat Research coming up next week, and buay is this one gonna be a doozy!
Click on that flyer above for an “invite” and check the video promo below c/o D’hana, aka Chubrub –
Not much more to add here. But get yourself ready for a full-on live performance from LE1F, plus a set from Boston’s own Micah, and yeah, we really couldn’t be more thrilled to host the first appearance of ZOMBIE NU LIFE. (Pretty sure Rizzla DJ is my favorite people-mover on the planet right now.)
Ok, Boston Massive, the time has come! Tonight we kick off our new monthly edition of Beat Research with none other than NYC’s DJ Rekha!
What (more) can we say? Flack & I have been wanting to get Rekha up here for ages; we’ve both had the pleasure to open for her at local shows; and we both love playing a bhangra track or three in our sets. I’m not sure anyone else in the house tonight will be quite as excited as we are, and that’s how it should be.
A lot of people, myself included, throw the term “ambassador” around when talking about Rekha, and that’s because it’s an entirely fitting description. Rekha’s been along for the ride — and piloting her own course — since just about the beginning of bhangra’s urbanization and transnational spread. For 15 years she’s helmed Basement Bhangra, and she facilitated the stateside premieres of no less than Panjabi MC, Tigerstyle, and MIA in the US. More recently she’s been collaborating with Zuzuka Poderosa, the NYC-based carioca vocalist. Yup, Rekha knows what’s up.
Moreover, though it should go without saying, Rekha’s Bhangra & Beyond approach — and, especially, how bhangra itself constantly opens into and refigures what lies beyond its borders — makes her a quintessential Beat Research guest. Even were she to play a set entirely comprising bhangra, you’d also hear plenty of dancehall, hip-hop, house, garage, and any other groove worth grafting onto bhangra’s big, sticky tree. It’s remix music par excellence, as likely to please conservatives and/or progressives as make them bristle. Here’s how she put it on NPR last year –
â€¦theres a lot of debate around certain aspects of bhangra. Bhangra, if one would technically break it down, it is a male folk dance. It is a very specific rhythm, actually. So what is considered bhangra today is one of many rhythms, not exactly the bhangra rhythm. But as language evolves, culture moves forward, things start to mean other things. So bhangra has become sort of a ubiquitous term to describe a certain style of music and it’s definitely a battleground for tradition versus modernity.
And yet, despite contemporary, urban bhangra being about as “nu whirled” as it gets, I also think there’s something conspicuous about it’s general exclusion from the global / tropical bass repertory. Sure, there are echoes and flirtations here and there (especially if enabled by the likes of Timbaland), and some blogs have been consistently committed to staying up on the latest desi bangers, but for the most part, I’m pretty sure there’s a classic bit of brown-isn’t-black-or-white, ahem, coloring the reception and circulation of bhangra. And I’m pretty sure das racist.
Anyway, I was hoping to feature a little interview with Rekha here about that sort of thing, but she’s been too consumed by travel (to Bolivia last week w Zuzuka Poderosa!), so we’ll just have to chat about it later tonight. Looking forward to her perspective on it, but not as much as her set!
Don’t miss it!
Indeed, you might consider getting there early, if you’re up for it, as we’ve got quite an amazing warm-up act in Scotland-born but Salem’s own — that is, Salem the town in Massachusetts — world-class skweee devoteee, Radio Scotvoid.
The main thing you should know for tonight is that Scotvoid is serious about skweee, the semi-obscure but thoroughly awesome and remarkably sinuous synth music based outta Sweden and Finland. Given that its a recent phenomenon, you may be surprised — but then again, not if you’re familiar with the analog-love at the heart of skweee — to hear that a lot of skweee labels issue their music on 7″ vinyl. And Scotvoid is the type of guy (the only guy?) who can put together an hour-long skweee set entirely from 45s. Which is what he’s gonna do. Which is bonkers.
We’ll get things started around 9pm, so come make a night of it with us. Wiggle your mind, baffle your behind.
MAY 30 (AKA 2NITE!)
w/ DJ REKHA
And since I can’t resist sharing, allow me to tease the incredible summer of Beat Research we’ve lined up:
So this also feels like a long time coming, and I couldn’t be thrillder (trillder?) about LE1F’s support that evening c/o of the NU LIFE crew, who just last week got some well-deserved local love —
I’ve long thought that what Rizzla & D’hana & co have been cooking up at NU LIFE and other things around town is pretty much one of the best — and most original — things Boston has going for it. They bring some real vision to the party, as the article delves into, and/but the way their particular musical address — including the songs of Buju Banton, their orthogonally anti-gay comrade (I’ll have to explain that one sometime) — hails a particular cross-section of actually existing Boston diversity.
Ironically (or not?), NU LIFE is going out on top, ending their 3-year residency at Zuzu in Central Square next Tuesday (June 5), and shifting toward being more mobile & flexible. Sounds like a good move to me; I look forward to the next edition, wherever it may pop up. Meantime, we couldn’t be more happy to host a special post-NU DEATH jam with the NU LIFERS, including a rap set c/o Micah Domingo. Need I say more?
Better to let them say it themselves. Here’s a lil blurb they wrote for the Phoenix to provide a little context for their driving NU DEATH mix (which puts me in such fine company, I’m blushing):
Nu Life has hosted some incredible DJ’s and producers, including Kingdom, Venus X, LE1F, Wayne Marshall, Jubilee, Massacooramaan and Physical Therapy. The vibe can range from 90’s dance b-sides to underwater reggaeton house party. This mix is a blend of some styles we love – club and vogue beats, afflicted big room house, juke and harder rave music with twerk vocals. It’s a mixture of Rizzla’s own remixes and productions, the new school anthem YOU by Fade to Mind label head Kingdom, queer vocalists and amazing Boston-based producers like False Witness, Dev/Null, and Wheez-ie.
I can’t even begin to describe how amped I am for this. It’s a little incredible, to say the least, that all of these amazing DJs — who have all pursued impressive solo paths — will be back in town and in the same building, stirring up some good ol cross-genre, art-rave sociability like they used to make together, on the regular, as the Toneburst Collective.
This is an absolute dream bill, far as I’m concerned, and a historic occasion. I’m grateful to all of these folks for helping to make it happen! For the record, I was never a member of the collective, though as I recollected admiringly some 7 years ago (!!) –
as more of an occasional party-goer than a core participant, i first approached [the Toneburst aethetic] with a fair deal of wonder and curiosity. sounded like some stuff i’d heard before, but then again it didn’t. i liked that it somehow represented boston (a town woefully marginal on the musical map), but i wasn’t sure how exactly. somehow the music was both smart and gritty, though, which seemed right.
Given the way things have turned out in this mashy, remixxy world — not to mention how Jace & Jake & Keith & Larisa &c have all fared in their own pursuits — I’d say they were onto to something back then.
Beat Research is but one local torch still held aloft for the Toneburst spirit, and I couldn’t be happier about how brightly we’re gonna burn this summer.
Contrary to former reports, we will not have DJ Rekha at Beat Research tonight. Indeed, we will not be holding Beat Research at all this evening. Our final Tuesday night session will happen next week, May 8, when Tony “DJ” Flack and his students from MassArt present “Beat Research at Beat Research” — that is, the semester’s end projects from the class that shares its name with our night.
But don’t despair, ye Beatheadz and Experimental Partiers of Nerdtown: we’ll be bringing Rekha to Boston later this month, and Beat Research will most definitely go on. But we’re making a significant shift in our programming beginning this month. Allow me to explain. (I mean, what else is a blog for?)
A funny thing happened on the way to relaunching Beat Research over at the Good Life: we ended up moving from Monday to Tuesday — basically, because the club doesn’t operate on Mondays. We hardly gave it a second thought when we agreed, eager to get our weekly back on track, but we stumbled right into a tangle of unfortunate conflicts. And in a town of this size, you just can’t split the scene(s) like that.
So we’ve been in the unfortunate situation of playing against good bredren and comrades, leading to such absurd situations as pitting Chief Boima at our night against Filastine at the very kindred Music Ecology across town. (I know this kind of thing inevitably happens every night in NYC, but in Boston you might get only 1 or 2 chances a year to see one of these guys.) Or me missing out on the likes of Jess Jubilee at Rizzla & co’s NU LIFE. Indeed, one reason we decided to make the shift now is that I just couldn’t stand to play opposite the good Rev. Dave Quam (aka Massacooraman) tonight — or pit dude against Rekha — over at Zuzu in Cambridge, which is where I recommend you go, and which is where I will definitely be.
I’m glad to have my Tuesdays free, but I’m also happy about our move to monthly Wednesdays. To his credit, Flack has been involved with Beat Research as a weekly for 8 years and some 400 shows (I’ve only been here for the last 5) and he’s tireless when it comes to rocking week in and week out. For my part, I really like the idea of a monthly since it will afford us a better opportunity to do it up big, bring in very special guests, and rally the greater Boston massive. (Bigup Pajaritos, whose PicĂł Picante has demonstrated the great potential of a semi-regular/monthly-ish trans-global dance jam — oh, and wait til you hear who they’ve got on the bill in mid-May.)
So all things considered, we’re very excited to reboot in fine style later this month: Wednesday, May 30 we’ll kick off our monthly with none other than NYC’s desi diplomat, DJ Rekha, host of Basement Bhangra, North America’s premiere bhangra party 15 years and running. (To our delight, but not surprising if you know anything about modern/urban bhangra, Rekha’s also a not-so-secret dancehall devotee.) Check this recent radio set and bhangra-funk-carioca collabo to get a sense of Rekha’s range — that is, if you don’t already know.
If you do, I trust we’ll see you pon the SS Beat Research w/ Admiral Malhotra at the wheels–
Unfortunately, we won’t actually be on a boat — though a BR booze-cruise could beâ€¦something — but I’m happy to report that we’ll have another special guest to help Flack & I warm things up for Rekha: local skweee aficionado Radio Scotvoid will be playing an early set from his worldclass collection of skweee 45s. That’s right, skweee 45s!
After Junior Rodigan’s stunningly sweet set last week, I suspect a slightly more angular, abstract approach to diasporic funk will seem just about right. Hear, for instance, Beam Up’s live set of classic reggae riddims, built from scratch, recorded at the Fusion Festival in Germany last year –
Wearing his Sonical hat, Delay is currently in NYC exhibiting at White Box. For a taste of that, check this –
Another ongoing project, MIDI East, involves some 9000 MIDI files from the Balkans / Turkey, which he’s also making available for others to play around with. Here’s a glimpse of how he’s worked em up:
Come on out if spacey, dubwise Tuesday vibes seem like the proper meds. #noxanax
ps — Adding to the sensory madness, we’ll have twinstars doing live visuals throughout the night!
It’s finally time, Boston Mass(ive): tonight, Tuesday April 17, we’ve got the city’s undisputed #1 reggae selector, the mighty Junior Rodigan, in the house at Beat Research!
We’ve been wanting to have Junior over for a long time now, and though we’d welcome any set from him, we’ve taken the special occasion to ask him to go beyond what he typically gets to do — a lot of his gigs around town and spots on the radio are necessarily up-to-the-time affairs, though Junior is always careful to slip some history in. Of course, digging deep isn’t necessarily so easy for someone who, I’m told, now keeps 90% of his tens of thousands of records in storage. Based on what’s accessible, Junior’s decided to put together a classic set, dedicated to the foundational productions of Studio One and Treasure Isle. In other words, this deeply knowledgeable reggae selector will offer a guided tour through some of the biggest tunes and riddims cooked up in the late 60s / early 70s down in Kingston-town. Should sound absolutely sublime through the big subs and speakers downstairs at the the Good Life.
If you don’t know, Junior has a pretty interesting story. He takes his stage name, of course, from “Father” Rodigan, aka Sir David “RamJam” Rodigan, England’s irrepressible reggae ambassador for decades now. (This remains my favorite clip of the man in action.) Born in Iran, Junior first came under David’s tutelage as a young man growing up in London, where he would religiously tune into the elder Rodigan’s highly educational reggae radio shows. Moving to Boston in the early 80s, Junior was impressed to find a fledgling reggae scene and quickly became ensconced in things, from Dorchester to Cambridge, working as a party DJ, a promoter, a record label and record store operator, and in many many other supporting — and leading — acts. Impressively, he just hosted a 25th anniversary bash this past weekend.
Tribute to his namesake aside, Junior long ago established his own name here in Boston and more widely in the northeast as a stalwart for repping reggae here in the USA. Just watch him at work in the video below with some serious dancehall DJs & singers (“Star time, me say!”) during his drive-time show on Big City 101.3, the biggest Caribbean radio station here in town. Note how he presides over the action, not afraid to shout requests — “One more ting!” he shouts at 2min in, “(W)hol’ on now!” — and take part in the fun. The niceness of the session is a true testament to Junior’s vibes –
But Junior’s standing on the scene here well predates the rise of Big City. As featured here a couple weeks ago, you might have caught this clip of him rocking with the Almighty RSO back in 1991, adding some ruff ragga filigree to their sound at a moment when flip-tongue Jamaican rap signified the hardest of the hardcore. And Junior made a number of other recordings as a vocalist at a time when such skills could really command an audience. I wish that he could play us an entire set from these semi-obscure but treasured times, but that may have to wait for an official excavation. In the meantime, we can appreciate some great moments from a fine moment in time–
This one betrays a touch more of a UK accent than he has these days (his inimitable English-Jamaican-Bostonian brogue remains one of my favorite things on the airwaves):
And here he is playing lovers-rock deejay over a smoove take on a Johnny Gil jam from Errol Strength:
Another big chune yah —
And this may be his best known of all, another BIG lovers-rock jam; indeed, this one was such a hit that it merited inclusion on Strictly The Best Vol. 8! — a rare distinction for Jamaican artists, never mind Iranian-born, English-raised, Boston-transplants like Junior:
Here’s hoping we can give Junior the eager Beat Research reception he deserves. Hope to see you tonight. A some real nice vibrations to be shared, truss…
Do note that we’ve added another DJ/producer to the line up: Blk.Adonis has been our guest at Beat Research before, but given that he’s a great admirer of Rashad and has been working to work juke & footwurk jams into his sets at Nu-Life and TRADE, it seemed like a fine bit of synergy to grow the bill a little more, even if it means less time for all of us (save Rashad, of course).
There’s a ton of great stuff happening this week in and around Boston, and I’ll direct you to a fine roundup put together by the Cluster Mag, our partner on Wednesday’s event. For my part, I’m going to have a hard time escaping the gravity of the Good Life, which is hosting dubstep trailblazer Mala on Friday and providing quite the “tropical” platform for Pico Picante — and many special guests — on Thursday night.
Speaking of the Pajaritos, they’re also responsible for organizing a panel discussion that I’ll be moderating on Friday. The panel brings together the stellar guests they’re bringing to town for Thursday, all of whom, as it happens, are utterly eloquent when it comes to the thorny problems and great possibilities of global / tropical / ghetto bass –
Discussing the panel last week with Ernesto Morales and Ricardo Delima, I told them that I was tempted to take their framing questions and add “besides Diplo” to them, as an attempt to get past the way that these panels tend to devolve into the same ol’ “What Should Diplo Do?” (WSDD) conversation — or as one attempt to sum up our similar panel at EMP put it, “whether we, as people who are interested in the history and origins of music, are okay with Diplo.”
Whether or not we’re ok with Diplo — whatever good that does “us” — there’s a great deal more to discuss about the phenomenon of what I’ve occasionally dubbed nu whirled music & global ghettotech than one guy’s outsize success. But then again, profiles like this one or recurring stories/critiques like this, conspire to create, as Ricardo tweeted, “diplo panic de hoy” (Diplo panic of the day). So I’m sure there will be no getting away from, as I like to think of him, the dinosaur in the room.
That said, I will do my job as moderator to steer us into perhaps less frequently chartered waters, and the panel’s focus on events really helps with this task. For one, it compels us to consider the local dynamics — as opposed to such abstractions as the global and appropriation and such — of putting on events that attempt to address a particular audience through the music & discourse of “tropical bass.” Here we get closer to what I’ve examined in the past as a form of neighborhood, and I could hardly think of better people to discuss such questions than Boima (w/r/t the Bay Area and New York), Poirier (re: Montreal), Ripley (Kingston, London, NYC), and Max and Jesse, both of whom are involved in longstanding musical-curatorial projects here in Boston and elsewhere.
I guess what I’m saying is, this should be worth tuning into (live stream!), especially if you spend a few of the next several nights enjoying some good ol’ bodily/social experience of these sounds and the scenes they call into being.
Beat Research looks to remain in high gear (with more low end than ever!) for the rest of the spring, maintaining our beast mode pace with some BIG guests coming thru over the next month or two.
Among others, as I’ll detail below, our spring line-up will include such wreck-shopping luminaries as Chicago juke alchemist DJ Rashad (4/4), veteran (and still #1) Boston reggae selector Junior Rodigan (4/17), and NYC bhangra ambassador DJ Rekha (5/1). We’ve been wanting to get all three of these masters of their craft to BR for a while, and I almost can’t believe it’s all going down in the next five weeks. Do help us set the experimental-party off if you’re in the area.
First, don’t forget that we’ve got the mighty Chief Boima in the house tonight, March 28! Check out this awfully nice post he put up for some context. Suffice to say, we’re just as happy to give the man a well-deserved platform. (And maybe to claim “First!“) I’m definitely a what-goes-around type of guy, and so I couldn’t be more pleased that Boima will also be giving a lecture in my global hip-hop class at Brandeis tomorrow night. He spent some time in Liberia last year, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about such thorny but important questions as how to ethically endeavor to play musical middleman.
Here’s something toward what it sounds like maybe –
Let me remind that Boima’s got a new release out on Dutty Artz called African in New York, which is great. But if you come to the club tonight, you not only get to hear tracks like those, you get to hear lots of other stuff they’re webbed up with in Boima’s memory (and his hard drive’s).
Wednesday, April 4 – DJ Rashad & Kat Fyte
In conjunction with the good people at Cluster Mag, and the Together Fest, we’re doing two things we don’t usually do: we’re conducting Beat Research on a Wednesday, and we’re asking for a modest $5 at the door. But, boy, what we have in store.
We’re enthused to report that our guest for the Fest will be DJ Rashad, one of the biggest players in the Chicago juke/footwork scene, especially with regard to its movement in the wider world — thanks in no small part to his releases on Planet Mu.
I can’t wait to hear Rashad at the Good Life. Those sustained 808 tones and insane tom rolls are gonna bang through that system. It may be the first time I’ll come close to hearing/feeling what they should really hear/feel like. But beyond the 808 wizardry, Rashad’s stuff also stands out with its fine ear for all sorts of samples, especially the sort of jazzy sources that once bedeviled many a hip-hop producer. He and his comrade DJ Spinn are quite the connoisseurs of the sample-flip (<3 the Edo G shout). Here's a taste (lots more here), where you can hear why London lads could lose their shit over this Chicago-bred style that creeps up on drum’n'bass without even meaning to –
And to top things off, erstwhile/occasional/forever Bostonian and all-around force of awesome, Max Pearl (aka Kat Fyte), will help us get things started right.
Tuesday, April 10 – Brian Coleman & Pacey Foster
We’re keeping it extra local this week with two DJs who together can cover much of this town’s illustrious musical history, from electro to rock to hip-hop and much else between and beyond. Longtime friends of Beat Research Pacey Foster and Brian Coleman have promised to “dig in their Boston crates and pull out cuts from all eras and genres (with the exception of experimental country-western from Metro West).” At times, it could sound like this —
Or this –
Tuesday, April 17 – Junior Rodigan & Irie La
Our big guest on April 17 should need no introduction, in Boston or beyond, but he sure deserves one. Taking his name from the legendary David “Ram Jam” Rodigan (aka Father Rodigan), Junior Rodigan moved to London from Iran as a kid and became totally enraptured by his namesake’s radio show, which gave him quite an education in reggae during his formative years. He moved to Boston as a young adult, and started rocking parties around town beginning in 1986, steadily building a solid rep.
For a short time in the early 90s Junior worked as a ragga-hiphop vocalist, recording for New York and Boston-based labels, and he owned and operated his own reggae store, Vibes Records, on Blue Hill Ave for more than a decade. Since the late 90s, he’s devoted nearly all his time to DJing, and these days he’s known as the drive-time DJ on Big City FM, Boston’s premiere Caribbean community radio station. Junior’s a longtime point-man for nuff visiting artists from Jamaica, with whom he has some serious rapport (see, e.g., 2min in: “me wan some original old time medley right now!”). Man talk the talk, seen.
Of course, Junior is a master of up-to-the-time chunes and classic catalogue numbers alike. For his special appearance at Beat Research, he’s going to do something he rarely gets to do on the radio or at gigs and dig into his deep crates in order to play cuts exclusively drawn from the foundation labels, Studio One and Treasure Isle, on which so much subsequent reggae is based. It’s bound to be a serious vibes. Once again, a great opportunity to experience this music as it was intended to be: as palpable, vibrational force.
This is quite a historic month for Junior, as it happens: just a couple nights earlier, on April 15, he’ll be holding a 25th anniversary bash at the Russell Auditorium featuring Stone Love & Steelie Bashment. If I were you — indeed, if I were me (which I am) — I’d want to catch both these events.
For now, though — since I gotta get running over to the club to warm things up for Boima — I’ll leave you with this amazing but tantalizingly brief clip of Junior Rodigan in ragga-rapper mode, amping up the crowd during RSO’s opening act for Naughty By Nature’s Boston debut way back in 1991. Unfuckwithable–
Oh, and we’re gonna have the added support of another DJ who’s held the torch for reggae here in Boston: Selectress Irie-La. It’s gonna be quite a night, fi true.
So yeah, a seriously fun month+ ahead. Do join us! More info will follow.
This Tuesday — TOMORROW! — we’re amped to play host to the Boston debut of Old Money Massive, a duo bleeding the edge of No/New/True Yorkness with their grimey, synth-riddled, patois-laced paeans to race, space, & place. What’s more, I’m told there might be another special guest in the house to drop some rhymes over beats so fresh & cool you’d think they were flash-frozen.
To whet apps (and wet apps — ie, if you’re listening on your phone), here’s Old Money’s latest latest (via):
Catch em on twitter / soundcloud / vimeo / etc. But if you’re in the area, catch em Tuesday at the Good Life. Help us give these guys a massive welcome from Boston, Mass.
Tomorrow / today / whenever it is as you’re reading this — Tuesday Feb 28 marks both the release of Munchi’s Moombahtonista EP and as mentioned last week, his first appearance here in Boston, at none other than Beat Research! According to the opaque metrics at Zuckerborg, as I’m writing this some 56 registered users are “Going” to come thru, which is cool. I’m sure the place will pack up. It’s gonna be a special one, no doubt.
As I also mentioned, I gladly penned the notes accompanying the release of Munchi’s EP. It’s an odd job juggling promotion with what I think is also valued as my ability to be a critical observer, but I stand behind the text. (And I appreciate the affirmativenods.) Of course, I’m happy Munchi likes it — and that he thought of me to write it. I should give him some real credit too: he had lots of ideas, as always, and his own ability to articulate where he’s coming from is, I think, one of his greatest strengths as an internet-era artist. Anyway, you can judge for yourself (I added some links for fun):
Soon as the first moombahton edits hit the net, Munchi was ready. Slowing down Dutch house tracks to make mutant reggaeton made a lot of sense to a resident of Rotterdam with roots in the Dominican Republic. Munchi knew as well as anyone (and better than most) that Dutch house and reggaeton were kindred genres, each a skip and a jump away from dancehall reggae. He began cooking up his own moombahton that night, emerging with much more than another set of edits. Arguably the first originals of the genre, Munchi’s tracks were built from scratch, imbued with touches of baile funk, cumbia, kuduro, bmore, samba, breakcore and more. Unlike Dave Nada’s seminal edits or influential remixes by A-Mac, Uncle Jesse, and Melo making the rounds, Munchi could put his name on his tracks front and center. Blowing up the blogs, he proved himself prolific and popular almost immediately, releasing acclaimed promo packs by the pound and building a devoted audience.
By pursuing his own singular vision of what the genre could be, Munchi pointed the way — lots of ways actually — to move moombahton beyond surprisingly serviceable novelty remixes in order to make it a genuine genre. His cross-breeding fusions even birthed a substyle he dubbed moombahcore, a steroidal take on the sound that now boasts hundreds of its own adherents. After Munchi’s wildly successful experiments, moombahton became a lot more kitchen-sink. This EP collects the classics, marking the moment that Munchi blew the frame open. Club wreckers that set the stage for a wave of producers learning to love the space between the kicks, the place to wind your hips. You’ll find it all here: evocative samples, epic build-ups and drops, thick-ass drums, sudden jokes and, of course, that trademark jingle. It also features new twists on old bangers, like lacing “La BrasileĂ±a Ta Montao” with brand new vocals from Angel Doze, Munchi’s favorite reggaetonero, making it the first real meeting between moombahton and its Puerto Rican cousin.
I can’t seem to find a buy link for the dang thing yet [ok here it is], but for now, here’s a mini-mix preview, which has racked up 9000 plays in just 3 days –
Come hear the man live if you can. I’ve seen him in action. You gotta be ready.
Oh & nice EP art! Props for the totally understated use of boobs –
Ok, one last time, here’s the deets for tonight / tmrw night (TUESDAY!):
TUESDAY – 2/28
W/ SPECIAL GUESTS: MUNCHI & OXYCONTINENTAL GOODLIFE