Thursday, November 18, 2004

grime be wacky

glisten: grime

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about hip hop and about grime in particular, so I thought I'd share some tracks and some thoughts with you on the subject.

In the mid eighties, hip hop exploded out of the east and west coasts in a big way. In the mid nineties, the zeitgeist reached a new apex in the Dirty South movement. In the mid '00's, hip hop has a new home: London.

Grime is a natural progression of traditional hiphop and British garage/house dance music. The beats are relentless and fast; the samples are simple, electronic and catchy as fuckall; the rapping is speedy and innovative. This is that next shit, the step into a new direction same as the old direction.

Grime has already fronted a pair of international stars in Dizzee Rascal and Mike Skinner; more are hopefully on the way.

The location may change but the song remains the same: hip hop has always embraced optimistic self re-creation, sexist hot boy come on games and rhyme battles. I've pulled three great grime tracks that play off these iconic themes in a new way.

Meet some of the future:

Wiley with Breeze, J2K and Riko - "Pick UR Self Up"

The chopped strings and "sk-skippin" beat never cease to hook me right in to Wiley's world. It's an addictive earworm with a hella singable chorus. What more could you want?

This self-affirming "step up your game" anthem holds it's own against Ghostface's "The Juks" and also makes an excellent bookend to the Nas "I Can" done right that is Dizzee Rascal's 'Dream'.

Wiley shies away from the "grime" label, preferring to call his music "eski". Whatever, it's still hip hop to me; note the C.R.E.A.M. reference.

Buy "Treddin' on Thin Ice", Wiley's remarkable first album, from Amazon or, if you can deal in pounds, direct from XL Records.
Read this long interview with Wiley.
Read this excellent and accurate review of "Treddin'" from Stylus magazine.

Brazen - "Buff Girls"

Video game melodies and big beat and cowbell and cherry flavoured condoms? Count me in. "Buff Girls" is a sweet Miami Vice dream of old-school mack daddy balladeering that stinks of kitschy "Knockin' the Boots" beauty and novelty. This is NOT a bad thing.

Brazen is pretty ungooglable, but his flow is fairly unassailable.

"Fortunately we ain't gotta be together/let's just missionary like we were a couple forever" is a lyric that LL (who Brazen is DEFINITELY biting a bit) wishes he had thought of first.

Buy "Aim High Vol. 1", a collection of tracks spun by DJ Target, from Uptown Records.
There's an obscure but not especially interesting cut from Dizzee and Wiley onboard; I'd recommend picking it up for the lesser known (in America) artists. Lots of nice tracks.
Read Sasha Frere-Jones take on the genre, via a Diz/Skinner overview.

Medasyn with Frost P, Zuz Rock, Lady Sovereign and Shystie - "The Battle"

Saved the best for last. This astonishing eight minute two-on-two battle of the sexes hip hop track has a deceptively simple string hook and four dynamic MC's that ride the beat like a rodeo cowboy. This is exciting, pulse-raising stuff that climaxes with a series of solo spits that would put many an American artist to shame.

Bottled adrenaline, pure and simple.

This is one of my favorite tracks of the year, methinks and Lady SOV is probably my favorite new artist of the moment. I can't wait for the album to drop internationally. This girl is the real thing and then some.

I can't find a place to buy this promo disc; anybody got a source?

Read "The Battle" press release.
Read this engaging piece on grime, which includes a short profile of Lady SOV.
Visit HardStep Sistaz and read about the next generation of femm-cs.
Read this Guardian piece about British lady rappers.



The Numbers game CD will return; I've just felt the need to diversify and come up with the occasional set of tracks that have me excited. I've also decided to feel comfortable about posting when I CAN (between two and four times a week) as opposed to forcing myself into an arbitrary schedule. Don't worry; I'll still do my damnedest to keep the music coming.