But I’m especially happy to welcome BBrave to town as he’s the only one I’ve yet to meet IRL.
I suspect Benjamin “BBrave” Lebrave needs no introduction here at W&W, but for those who don’t know, Benjamin is the force behind Akwaaba Music, an independent label devoted to African music of the post-Fruityloops era, or as he puts it “syncopated music made on computers all across the African continent.” Carefully and lovingly curated by Benjamin, a champion for genres and artists from West to East Africa, South to North, Akwaaba has served since 2008 as a crucial international platform for emerging artists, including acts as varied as Just a Band or FOKN Bois.
Akwaaba’s latest offering is a blistering rap album, Burkin BĂ˘, from Burkina Faso’s Joey Le Soldat, who pushes social critique with wicked flow over jagged electronic soundbeds that recall the Bug’s distorted dancehall. The lead single boasts an arresting video too; should slay in London or anywhere grime resounds —
Once again it’s that time! I’ll be guesting at Boston’s Best Dance Night™, PicĂł Picante, this Friday–
PicĂł is always the ideal occasion to break out treacly dancehall pop covers, classic reggaeton, salsa remixes, and azonto jams, among others, so, yeah, pretty much always ready for that.
And readers of W&W need no intro to headliner DJ Ripley — Riddim Methodist, PhD, & Dutty Artizt extraordinaire. But maybe you haven’t heard her latest?
A preview, perhaps, of what might be in store Friday night, given Picante proclivities and all, but Ripley reliably keeps her sets unpredictable. So it’s bound to be a fun one, twists and turns galore.
This Friday, at the very #rare time of 5pm and at a rather lovely spot, I’m psyched to be opening for two of my favorite (erstwhile) local talents: Rizzla DJ & False Witness, the two from the #KUNQ crew who cooked up the time-warped, globally-warmed, zombie beach party of Isla Toxico —
While we won’t exactly be performing on a toxic island (though you might consider Boston such at times), we will be right on the water, at the Institute of Contemporary Art’s waterfront space — definitely one of the nicer sunsetting spots in the city. They’re calling the event Urban Beach, which yeah, but I think that’s a theme we can all work with.
From 5-6:30pm I’ll be doing my best to level the vibes. Playing before dark can be as liberating as it is constraining, so I’m looking forward to the chance to play things that diverge from club imperatives. Haven’t had a chance to play a sun-drenched set in a while. Or slow music, for that matter.
Back to my cohorts, though: I couldn’t be happier to play opening act for these two. It’s been a pleasure to watch Rizzla’s distinctive productions and insurgent sets get the uptake they deserve. He & the whole #KUNQ crew bring together such a great set of shared & individual sensibilities, and the results manage to challenge as they seduce. Take, as another example, the very latest c/o Rizzla & Blk.Adonis —
Crossfading and fusing a special & specific array of styles, their shifting constellation of soca, hardstyle, ballroom, dancehall, and reggaeton transmits a finely-tuned address to a particular (if cross-sectional & always emergent) public — a musical beacon which worked wonders here in Boston back when Rizzla & co. were all resident here & giving this old town some NU LIFE.
That a progressive / queer / genderqueer / feminist / anti-racist / inclusive movement would rally around brusque dancehall anthems and raved-up dembow speaks volumes. Eschewing the imperial work that appropriation does, the #KUNQ approach gestures toward the more complex possibilities that emerge when we embrace difference. “Get to know it,” Rizzla says, “and you won’t want to rip it off.”
But he may have said it even better when he said –
Fortunately for us toxic islanders of Greater Boston, NYC is not too far away, so we’re still graced with the #KUNQ crew’s presence on a relatively regular basis. Hearing some #KUNQ beats echo across the harbor this Friday sure sounds like a vibes to me. Maybe you too?
Tonight is the 2 year anniversary of PicĂł Picante, one of the shining lights of Boston’s club scene, and something I’ve been grateful to be close to —
The pics of me at PicĂł over the years attest to the special vibes of the place (even when I’m seemingly giving the stankface to someone making a ridiculous request, which is maybe just the face I put on when Nick points his camera at me while I’m DJing) —
But tonight is extra special not only because it’s a celebration of two great years of dancing together, but because it’s also a send-off for 1/2 of Pajaritos, Sara Skolnick, who is embarking on a promising ethno/techno-musicological endeavor in Colombia very soon. Here’s the story c/o Sara herself:
I want to share a note of deep gratitude for your ongoing support and for the sense of family that you’ve helped grow over the past two years. On Sunday I’ll be relocating to BogotĂˇ, Colombia to take on a year-long ethnomusicology grant that focuses on new opportunities for artistic agency and self-representation for marginalized musicians, encouraged by democratized access to digital music production tools and networks. This project was inspired by the experiences I’ve had as a DJ and organizer in Boston, and undoubtedly by the big hearts I’ve connected to through it. Thank you for the gift of an energized belief in music as a force for social change (& in the dancefloor as the most valuable classroom I’ve yet to find) and for creating such a reliably warm, dynamic space to celebrate life. PicĂł continues on with full force & I can’t wait to see what’s in store and to share my experiences from afar. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank YOU, Sara. And BUEN VIAJE!Âˇ! We look forward to hearing all about it.
I just want to reiterate how fortunate I feel to have had PicĂł Picante as a platform for a set or two. Thanks to the efforts of Pajaritos & crew, I’ve had the pleasure to run through my collection of Caribbean and Caribesque dance-pop with abandon, and it’s been a thrill to see people getting down to it all. In tribute and thanks to the night — as an ode, if you will, owed to PicĂł Picante — here’s my set from this May’s special edition, opening up for Toy Selecta, who proceeded to completely demolish the place with an epic 2-hour set. Wish I could share *that* with you, but for my part, here’s this —
As usual, it’s a mix of clubb faves & obscurities that should be, connected dots & forced collisions. Hot summer vibes. Who’s in the mix? Oh, just all these awesome guys —
Ini Kamoze -> Busta Rhymes -> Million Stylez -> Popcaan & Poirier -> Chief Boima -> Shabba Ranks -> Vybz Kartel & Dre Skull -> Dirtsman -> Cutty Ranks -> DJ Deeon -> Johnny P -> Tito DJ -> Hector y Tito -> French Montana -> Chaka Demus & Pliers -> Pliers -> Daddy Woody -> Rodolfo Y Su Tipica -> Murlo -> Super Cat & Heavy D -> Wayne Wonder -> Mavado -> Di Genius -> Chino -> Emynd + Trinidad James -> Blk.Adonis & Rizzla DJ -> Los Rakas -> Willie Colon -> DJ Double F -> Tito El Bambino -> Murlo -> Fuego -> Doctor Dru & Adana Twins -> Ricky Blaze -> Daniel Haaksman -> DJ Joe & Sir Speedy -> Ensemble aux Calebasses & Nemours Jean-Baptiste
Thanks again to my eloquent interlocutors, all of whom had colorful stories & trenchant perspectives to share, and to the Together panel people — especially Sara Skolnik and Ethan Kiermaier — for making it happen. And thx to everyone who attended the panel, tuned in, and/or wish to help continue the convo.
Got two great gigs in the next couple weeks that I want to make a little bit of a big deal about!
First up, next Monday (May 6) at Middlesex, I’m excited to take a turn as a guest at CVLT, Cambridge / Boston’s semimonthly source for “Electronic Death Music” (as they put it) —
This is an exciting opportunity to delve into some harder, darker sounds I don’t often play out. You can count on some duppy-haunted dancehall, k-hole reggaeton, and unvarnished grime. And as you can see, I’ll not only be joined by CVLT’s residents but by the one and only Nick Dawg of Beantown Boogietown, Boston’s premiere bass(scene) boosting blog.
FYI, Nick just cooked up a mix full of tracks c/o this year’s Together acts (more about that in a moment)–
Plus+++ the night will begin with an 8pm screening of The Earth Rejects Him by local filmmaker Jared Skolnick. Here’s a blurb (and a teaser):
The Earth Rejects Him is a chilling short film written and directed by Jared Skolnick about a young boy who discovers a corpse while biking in the woods, â€śthen faces unexpected and macabre consequences when he tries to bury it.â€ť Influenced by the films of Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick, and Guillermo del Toro and the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft, Skolnick shows us the sinister side of a sunny day in a lush forest when a young boy takes a tumble off his bike over a small cliff and lands in a tangle of fallen leaves.
Sounds like the perfect beginning to a night of pleasurably dark vibes, no?
Just in case you’re still wondering what these all these adjectives might mean, CVLT resident El Poser recently posted a vernal mix that helps give a sense of the vibe (though I also saw him play an incredibly bounce-y set opening for Dubbel Dutch at SWERVE a couple weeks back, so you never know):
On the other side of the vibes spectrum, I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of this!!!!
There’s a lot I could say about PicĂł Picante (my fave dance night in Boston) and Toy Selectah (one of my fave producer / DJ / A&Rs in the world), but for now allow me to crib from the infotaining blurb the Pajaritos put together —
// PICĂ“ PICANTE featuring Toy Selectah, May 16th at Good Life
On Thursday, May 16th, PICĂ“ PICANTE takes over both floors of Good Life for a special edition showcase for this year’s Together Festival. Monterrey-based producer Toy Selectah (Sones del Mexside, Mad Decent) headlines, known originally as the mix-master wizard for Mexico’s Hip Hop en EspaĂ±ol pioneers Control Machete. Most recently, Toy’s productions gallop rural rhythms of Colombian-Mexican cumbias, reggae, and other urban styles to create his own trademark sound and collective called Sonidero Nacional. Toy’s responsible for developing the Mexican phenomenon 3BALLMTY, and has also worked with the likes of Calle 13, Don Omar, Manu Chao, Morrissey and many others. He now resides as Creative Director, A&R and CEO of his own production company and boutique label, Sones del Mexside.
Thursday, May 16th | 9 PM â€“ 2 AM | Good Life, 28 Kingston Street, Boston | 21+ | $5 | FACEBOOK
// Grassroots Digital, a panel-discussion organized by Wayne Marshall, May 16th at Together Center
We’re excited to share that Wayne Marshall (Wayne&Wax, Harvard University) has organized and will moderate a panel-discussion in conjunction with Together Festival daytime programming, with PicĂł guest Toy Selectah and more to be announced:
From Mexico to Mali to Bed-Stuy, digital tools of production and publication are facilitating new interactions between grassroots culture and industrial capture, informal amateurism and art world remediation. Drawing on the expertise of several actors in this wide, weird world, our panel seeks to explore a few stories of spectacular circulation that shed light on new forms of media exchange and exploitation.
Thursday, May 16th | 2 â€“ 3:30 PM | Together Center, 328 Mass Ave, Cambridge | All Ages | Free
On the 243rd anniversary of the Boston Massacre (bigup Crispus Attucks!), I’m reposting the merely titular-pun-related mix of Boston-associated songs I cooked up for the Somerville Art Council back in 2005. This is also (barely) germane to the day given the currently flaring debate over Massachusetts’ official rock song. (As they say around here, I shit you not.) Not to mention, if only very tangentially, the emergence of one of the best mashups in years. (Really love how it reproduces the effect of that ol’ Eminem/Britney mashup, revealing the underlying pop sensibilities of two putative hardcore outsiders.) Without further ado, here’s the Boston Mashacre (my follow-up, the Smashacre, resides over here)â€¦
we begin with sounds of the davis square farmer’s market, with several different languages being spoken, including what sounds like a guy saying “habibi.” the percussion is an empty soda bottle that another guy was banging on his hip, quietly singing what sounded like a reggae song at the same time. confirming my impression, yet another guy–this one a farmer/vendor–walks up to him and says rather dryly, and to my incredulous ears for stumbling upon such a soundbite, “champion sound, yeah?” from there, the man with the bottle plays a classic 3+3+2, reminiscent of so many caribbean styles, and we hear car alarms and horns spin into melody. as a bus pulls up and takes off again (and “buses” was one of the most popular returns i got to the question “what are the sounds of somerville?”), the familiar strains of the standells’ “dirty water” enter the soundscape and the mix. from there, the incidental sounds of the city–which, as you can hear, are rather musical in their own way–yield to the “musical” sounds of the city. that is, we enter the realm of pop recordings, of the boston soundscape as MOR radio presents it (at least as filtered through the ears of a lifelong boston jerk who harbors a strange mix of pride, humility, and humiliation when it comes to the sounds of his city).
after the standells, the lineup moves through a number of boston mainstays and one-hit wonders, has-beens and shoulda-beens. the full tracklist is as follows:
the standells, “dirty water” (not a boston band, but they might as well be) the cars, “you might think i’m crazy” (yup, a boston band) dj c, “boston you’re my bounce” (beat research) NKOTB, “hangin’ tough” (omg! jordan is my fave lol ;-) mr. lif, “home of the brave” (so he lives in berkeley now, and what?) tracy chapman, “fast car” (used to play T stations) extreme, “more than words” (found an acapella!?!) aerosmith, “walk this way” (nice break, dudes) run DMC, “walk this way” (better break, jam master) NKOTB, “the right stuff” (williamsburg where ya at?) bell biv devoe, “poison” (girl, i must warn you: i know that BBD album by heart) the cars, “just what i needed” (uncanny how the intro mirrors BBD’s) j geils band, “angel is a centerfold” (urbody whistle now) boston, “more than a feeling” (guitars are for dorks) ed O.G., “i got to have it” (representin’ the bean harder than guru since 1991) MBTA, “davis square redline stop” (a wicked hahd-to-find recording)
listeners will notice that some of these tracks are in more fragmentary form than others. (hope not to leave anyone hanging too much, but you should seek out the originals in that case.) as with most mixes, it was the tracks’ suggestive qualities and affective resonance that i was going for–not some sense of their textual wholeness. this is however less a mix or a mashup, per se, than what might be better called a mix’n’mash. at times, i play songs on their own, though more often than not i play two or more songs at once (or instrumental versions/loops of them).
the sound and shape of the music i am making here is a product of the technology that i am using: ableton live. having the relative freedom to stretch tempos without changing pitch allows me to match a number of songs together that the average vinylist couldn’t/wouldn’t. of course, i also change pitch sometimes, purposely, either to make a harmony sweeter or to weird/chipmunk something out. generally though, at least in this case, i have preserved the original pitch/key of the songs in question, which i think makes them much more recognizable. the changes in tempo are less noticeable. you’ll notice i like the echo button, too.
It’s gonna be bonkers, sin duda. After this summer’s well received reggaetony set, I’m gonna have to up the ante, especially with downstairs’ subs to exploit. Trust it’ll be another crunk genealogy of some sort. Bottom-line: there’s nothing like playing to a room full of smiling dancing people. Can’t wait!
Then, on Sunday Nov 18, I’ll be at the Queens Museum in conversation with Apache Indian and DJ Rekha–
Felicitously — and aptly — the event is tied to an exhibition I’ve been wanting to check out, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World. What better angle to take on an English-born Punjabi bloke who raps over dancehall rhythms in a convincing Jamaican lilt, chatting bout arranged marriages with good creolized girls who “talk the Indian with the patwa” while proposing fusions of ragga and bhangra that, alongside contemporary Bally Sagoo, sketch out the blueprint for the entire genre as it’s known today.
A pioneer crossover artist, in his heyday Apache Indian addressed massive public followings in the UK and India, while enjoying a rare bit of outsider success in reggae and rap networks. And you can hear why. No more indebted to his namesake, Super Cat (aka the Wild Apache), than, say, Sean Paul is (which is to say, deeply indebted), Apache Indian distinguishes himself with a mastery of form that exceeds imitation. Man sound real, as they say. Check the original Don Raja stylee —
His knowledge of & affection for Jamaican music clearly run deep; note the fidelity to classic 60s style in what may be his best known song (thanks to inclusion on a few film soundtracks) — and, yes, he clearly enjoys playing “the Indian” in a Jamaican context (and the reggae guy in an Indian one):
Of course, all of this is to say that he sounds about as British as anything (or anyone) else. And his recordings embodied as they emboldened a generation of Asian youth who grew up amidst England’s unruly and often Caribbean-accented multiculture, and who wanted to own all of that — and to make it their own thing (no matter how Jamaican it might sound). Directly or indirectly, Apache Indian’s performances always raise questions about race and nation, (cross- and intra-)cultural dynamics and traditions, mutable and fixed positions. And this is irrespective of whether he’s performing in full Jamaican regalia, some bhangramuffin ensemble, or Putumayo-pleasing homeland garb (b/w Rastafarian rhetoric)–
Lots to talk about, no doubt. The event is free and open to the public, so come on thru!
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.