Archive of posts tagged with "UK"

March 21st, 2008

linkthink #2653: It Figures

videyoga ::

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February 22nd, 2008

linkthink #0293535: King of Wok


there is none frier

videyoga :: (via)

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February 21st, 2008

linkthink #739053: Hyphy Wifey Harvest

audiyoga ::

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February 19th, 2008

linkthink #492356: Semper Fideles

photoyoga ::


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May 30th, 2007

Whirl-a-whirls

Two other entities in the (other)worldly spirit I was speakin of — and I mean that in a good way — would seem to merit some shine on em, ‘specially since one’s got a new mix up & out ::

London’s Heatwave crew bring the picante to the blogaparty, lacing together Spanish rap y reggae from across the Americas (and across the pond) &jumping off with an Ini Kamoze dubplate en español (!)

Heatwave, “La Ola de Calor”

It might be worth noting, amidst all this talk of translation (metaphorical and literal), that a great many Spanish reggae songs are quite literally traducciones.

(& Did u know that the Heatwave dudes’ last Blogariddims mix, “An England Story,” is due to be released on CD via SoulJazz?! [that means DL it while you can, sleepers.] && further, that they’ve released a 2CD reggaeton comp in the UK)

The other entity in question is word the cat. With posts all over the map, the cat has been doing some fine work in calling attention to local and global currents and intersections. In “local” matters, for instance, take his recent mammoth textsplurt (a major blog genre for us here at w&w) on UK hip-hop, wherein, it should be noted, JA and the US vie with cockney accents over how one hears home&away, self&uvver.

Chris the cat is responsible for calling my attention (in a comment here) to Uyghur pop, one of the more delightful discoveries I’ve had in recent months on the ‘osphere. Listening to those synthesized, autotuned, near-east/far-east beats and vox (and seeing them on video), I have to admit that my very imagination of “China” changed almost immediately, accommodating itself to less of a Beijing hegemony and instead to an image that included quirky Islamic pop booming in “autonomous” Western provinces. Music is rather powerful in that way — as representation — which is one reason among many to approach our own cultural translations with some serious sensitivity (unless we’re out to thumb our noses at someone or other, a reasonable tactic at times, no doubt).

When I learned, upon further clicking, that the music was to be (re)released by none other than Sublime Frequencies, I was not terribly surprised (though the amount of info around the sounds already promised more than the label’s typical flippancy, I’m not sure whether “purer, more carefully curated form” would simply mean removing some of the sonic&textual context).

Which brings me to another point that’s been rattling around in my head: it’s not that I don’t want labels like Sublime Frequencies to do what they do. On the contrary, I really enjoy a great many of SF’s releases. Part of my pleasure no doubt stems from the way they extend/challenge my familiarity with various places and their soundscapes: years of studying hardly anything but gamelan w/r/t Indonesia serves as fine prep for the dial-flipping pop-detritus on Radio Java. (Of course, other listeners without such background are simply wished to the library. As if.)

My problem then, in some sense, has less to do with the existence and practices of said labels (and other middlemen) and more to do with the fact that they remain clustered in the US and Europe, and hence the perspectives they share tend to skew toward the same ol, same ol. In a perfect world, a world without glaring inequalities of access to the tools of production, distribution, representation, etc., every corner could offer up its own idea of the sublime frequencies of every other corner. Perspectives could meet and diverge, centers could be decentered, things could fall apart and come together in unimagined ways.

How I would love to hear a Javanese take (or three, or four, or more) on, say, the Seattle soundscape.

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April 6th, 2007

Dear Wayne #8353: JA inna US & UK

While we’re in a outsourcing mood here at w&w, allow we to offer up another recent q&a —

Dear Wayne,

Hope you’re well,

This is a follow-up to an email that I sent last week regarding me possibly
conducting an interview in the near future regarding the role of Jamaican
styles in US and UK hip-hop.

I’ve been a keen reader of your blogs on this subject and would very much
like to talk to you via email about this subject as research for my
university dissertation.

Please could you get back to me either way.

Elliott P
Leeds University

Hi Elliott,

Interesting questions. I’m afraid I’m going to have to be brief, but I hope I can be helpful. Feel free to shoot back others if they arise.

1) As you’ve explored in your own research, certain songs on ‘Criminal
Minded’ by Boogie Down Productions were, at the time of their release,
groundbreaking in their use of Jamaican influences. What do you think was
the catalyst to this new approach in hip hop?

I think the main “catalyst” is the profound change in NYC’s ethnic demographics during the 1980s, combined with a related set of representations that changed perceptions of Jamaicans from “country/island” to “rudeboy/ruthless.” By the mid-80s, boroughs like Brooklyn and the Bronx not only had a good number more residents from Jamaica (and the West Indies more generally — see the work of Mary Waters, Philip Kasinitz, etc.), but in terms of actual social and cultural relationships, Jamaicans had gone from being marginal pariahs (e.g., thrown in garbage cans, as Kool Herc recounts) to dominating the drug trade, and the New York soundscape was more infused with the sounds of Jamaica — esp dancehall reggae — than ever before. The “cool and deadly” style of reggae from that era resonated with the cool and deadly postures of Jamaican posses. So for someone like KRS-One (despite himself not being Jamaican), suddenly the sounds of Jamaica offered a powerful resource for representing the Bronx.

2) Is there much diversity in the use of Jamaican influences in US hip hop?

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this. In a sense, I’d say yes, because the references to Jamaican music in hip-hop run the gamut from contemporary and classic dancehall to roots reggae (a la Bob Marley) to more obscure dub and sometimes even rocksteady references. Far and away, though, the strongest presence of Jamaica in hip-hop is from dancehall, which makes sense given its close relationship — and dialogue — with rap.

Regarding comparions between UK and US appropriations of Jamaican music in
their respective hip hop styles.

3) Can a fair judgement be made regarding the question of which style (UK or
US hip-hop displays the most authentic interpretation of a Jamaican
influence?

I’m not really sure how you would define “authentic” here, and I usually find that such assessments are bound up with various value judgments, so you’d have to tell me more in order to weigh in. Essentially, though, I don’t think a strong argument can be made that either style is more “authentic.” One might argue that UK hip-hop has a greater degree of Jamaican influence, which makes sense given the larger percentage of UK hip-hoppers of Jamaican descent and the greater presence more generally of Jamaican culture in the UK. If you’re talking about an “interpretation” that attempts to be closer to the “original” (though there’s a lot of mirror-mirror interaction going on in all of this, making it difficult to sort out), then the UK probably fits that description better. But again, UK/US hip-hop is one thing and UK/US reggae is another (and then there’s all the stuff in between). Ultimately, I think you’d be hard pressed to really make any meaningful distinctions here, as both places (NYC and London, specifically) have substantial Jamaican communities who maintain strong, close ties to the island.

4) If so, which is the most authentic and what is the criteria for such a
judgement?

I guess I addressed this in the answer above. In general, I avoid weighing in on authenticity, as I don’t think it’s something “out there” and measurable and real. Rather, it is a product of the imagination and will depend on competing discourses about the “real” and on complexly situated subjects in specific social contexts and their cultural politics. As I’ve written elsewhere, with regard to authenticity, there’s no “there” there. Even so, one can discuss it insofar as plenty of people do have strong ideas about what is authentic and they invest their music with such meanings accordingly. Getting at this, then, is less about an interpreter such as I or you deciding what is really real and instead employing ethnography to get at what other people think is really real and why.

Hi Wayne,

Thanks for your feedback on the questions. From reading my questions again a
few days later and reading your answers I can see some of the flaws in my
questions. I suppose it’s part of the learning process so thanks for bearing
with me.

Got a few more questions for you. I don’t think there’ll be many more after
this.

1) Is the oft- cited theory on the influence of Jamaican vocal styles on
hip-hop emceeing/rapping justified?

Depends on what you mean. I would say that the influence of Jamaican vocal styles on hip-hop emceeing have become more pronounced over the last 15 years especially, but in the earlier days of rap, the cadences were much more indebted to African-American styles. I think this was even true for those early DJs/MCs who were well familiar with Jamaican toasting style. Kool Herc adopted the speech style of his Bronx peers, and it was not until much later (at least 1986 or so) that Jamaican accents and vocal styles began to audibly influence rap style. Of course, this is all complicated by the fact that dancehall reggae vocal styles, since the early 80s, have themselves been influenced by rap.

2) Is it feasible to say that one genre holds more image and musicla
stylistic influence over the other when you compare the dancehall of Lady
Saw, Tanya Stephens etc to the hip hop of Foxy Brown Lil Kim etc?

This is hard to say. I can see/hear influence going both ways in all of these cases. It seems more difficult to me to compare individuals than, say, societies — where, I would say, though this is not really based on empirical evidence, that while US music/culture has had a pervasive effect on Jamaican music/culture, and Jamaican on English, it is less clear that Jamaican music/culture has had such a strong effect on American culture (except perhaps in certain Caribbean-ized cities, such as NY or Miami).

3) What do you feel that UK Grime music has taken from Jamaica in terms of
music and cultural expression?

Quite a bit: everything from vocal styles and accents and slang, to rhythmic predilections, focus on bass and effects and layering, use of the dubplate and riddim system, rude boy stance, etc. Of course, “taken” might be putting it strong, considering how many grime artists and producers are of Jamaican descent.

Referring back to the last set of answers you gave me, whilst I’m fairly
aware of the more obvious examples of Jamaican influence in US hip-hop,
could you help me out with some of the more obscure dub/rocksteady examples
you mentioned. Also, are there any US hip hop artists of Jamaican descent
(second-generation) you could name? I can name people like Busta Rhymes,
Grand Puba etc, but I can’t be sure of people like Mos Def or Smif an
Wessun.

Hmmm. Can’t do too much of this research for you, I’m afraid. But here are a couple examples: Kanye West’s sample for Jay-Z’s “Lucifer” comes from a Max Romeo / Lee Perry dub, of course, and Public Enemy sampled Mikey Dread, while Special Ed samples “Shantytown” by Jimmy Cliff and “Double Barrel” by Dave and Ansel Collins for his “Magnificent.” Something like Madlib’s Blunted in the Bomb Shelter shows another side of hip-hop’s acquaintance with dub. Plenty more listed here:
http://the-breaks.com/perl/view.pl?page=1&genre=5

As for corroborating artists’ Jamaican heritage, I’m afraid I’ve had very little luck with that.

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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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