Archive for the ‘et hop!’ Category

bonus: et hop!

June 27, 2008

this one was predictable – it was clear some more stuff related to the et hop!-series would pop up in my favourite used records stores. so here a little selection of recent finds. and you might take it as a good occassion to revisit some or all of these posts…

first is mister kurtis blow – i always have to smile how most write ups about him have to stress that “blow” comes from a blow like a push… yeah…

early (hey, this is from 1980!) hip hop at its best: juicy, funky – you just want that bbq get going. i am again amazed how perfect it is in evoking this kind of mood. the perfect summer record to bbq to. for the first side, that is. what is even more amazing is how bad side two is – urgh… i ripped both sides in one file each – side one has the tracks seguing into each other and for side two you can delete it in one click… well, have a listen for youself and tell me what you think. you can get it here.

although seven years later, i would still consider this fitting into early hip hop: kool moe dee. already a lot more explicit in its lyrics (and my copy has one of the early explicit lyrics stickers – in an other design then the now iconic one). yeah, it is already a lot cooler – not only does he sport these gold chains like blow already did – there are also some cool shades (wrap-arounds!) and on the back of the cover are some rather…hm…kinky white gloves… the music? a lot more hip hop already. and yes, the lyrics are fun. i mean it needs balls to open your record with with a rap about that hot girl that then turned out to be too hot. yes, kool moed dee was drippin’ and pussin’ and had to go see the doctor. and yes, he is of course the greatest in the game and all that…

also ripped from vinyl, this time track by track, you can get kool moe dee here.

and now for something different.

what sparked my interest in this record was that it looked like hip hop and came out on jello biafra’s alternative tentacles label. i thought it would be certainly worth a listen. i was right. not surpringsly for all familiar with alternative tentacles we are now in the segment of political hip hop. yes, i posted earlier consolidated and disposable heroes of hiphoprisy. with them chill. e.b. shares the political lyrics and the connection also to other political music (via his label) – very north american s.f. bay area, that. but then the music is mellower then the two bands mentioned before. yes, we stay with the summer groove… not much more i do know about chill. e.b. – he published that one record – but he still (or again) makes music as you can see / hear on his myspace site (although some are older tracks). seemingly there has been talk of a new record – but since that information is already a little bit dated it seems like this did not happen? and yes, i really like like the cover… chill e.b., born suspicious, also lovingly ripped from vinyl, can you get here.

to round that post off we finish with something not strictly hip hop but definitly queer. j.d. doyle played it as opening track in his special show dedicated to queer hip hop and i lately stumbled across the us-promo mixes: me’shell ndegéocello’s leviticus: faggot. here you get the glee club vocal, the glee club fm, the faggot vs. bitch mix and the album version. just be advised that the mixes are house… and me’shell you can visit on the web here.

et hop! addendum

March 27, 2008

i know i know – this series is supposedly finished – but this is just too good not to point to and it just fits so nicely to the et hop! series: how about the history of hip hop year by year in music? the rub presents you with radio shows now spanning the period from 1979 (!) to 1999 – right, that is 21 shows giving you another view on the history of hip hop – well, it just goes to show how much fun history is! you can get your lessons here.

found via earplug – thanks!

and just because i really like it – how about some erotically charged hip hop visuals… tupac by david lachapelle

tupac.jpeg

et hop! homohop!

March 14, 2008

<drumroll> the last post of the et hop! series!

first i would like to point out the comments of this post to everybody interested in some more arab hip hop – more specifically lebanese and egyptian hip hop (thanks to dj lethal skillz and r!)

then i urge you to read the preceeding post – so you’re ready for the music.

so you think queer hip hop is rather new? wrong. the earliest gay hip hop actually goes back to 1982 – to a crew called age of consent – very outspoken, very d.i.y. – maybe the precursors of indie-hop? thankfully, their music has been unearthed again: it’s a good history lesson, at least. for getting an earful of their sound, watching some vids and getting more information i refer you to their website.

2 years later we have the first recording of gay hip hop. straight out of san francisco came the track gay type thang by jon sugar. again we’re lucky: the music and more information is available online – so you can download the really fun oldschool track for your aural pleasure here.

in the same year came out the first gay electro number – well, more precise one of the classic early electro tracks by gay artist man parrish, hip hop be hop:

so you might missed him here. but then he fits very well here, too. hip hop be hop might be not too obviously gay (whatever that could mean relating to an instrumental track), but then man parrish made some very gay tracks, too. and he worked together with sweet pussy pauline. and with klaus nomi (and i did not know that he was also involved in that klaus nomi song on this compilation). for a full overview of his body of work – which can be bought directly from his website, a lot more information about man parrish (including interviews) and some more stuff you can visit his website here.

in presenting these artists as the early queer hip hop artists, i use the research of jd doyle from queer music heritage. nearly a year ago he made a radio show dedicated to gay hip hop. 3 hours long, it is a very good way to start exploring gay, lesbian, transgender hip hop. from the early tracks (as presented above) to the current artists, from fun tracks to angry tracks to comedy-hip hop, including a couple of interesting interviews. as usual he provides us with a wealth of information – so it is obviously highly recommended! so head over there and have a listen! it has the additional advantage for me that i do not have to explain that much concerning most of the following artists, but can deliver you just some music and some links.

i became aware of an emerging queer hip hop scene end of the nineties. information was still scarce – but around the year 2000 suddenly a couple of gay hip hop records were actually available also outside of the u.s.. i think the first one i obtained was digital dope by rainbow flava. actually a good record – and i do remember how i actually felt relieved that there was finally gay hip hop. yeah, it was really time…

frontsmall1.jpeg

if you would like to have a listen, you can so by going here (link expired).

two members of rainbow flava actually became in the last years central figures of the queer hip hop scene. dutchboy actually founded the label phat family – putting out a couple of queer hip hop compilations, presenting many queer hip hop artists to the public and obviously always was central to connect queer artists. respect. besides participating in many projects, his main musical project at the moment seems to be b.q.e., together with paradigm.

the other member of rainbow flava whose name tends to pop up all over the place as collaborator, producer and solo artist is tori fixx. i have to admit that i do not know that much of his impressive output – but it seems that he is on the musically gentler side of hip hop. as an example here his track not perfect:

also a gay artist with a high profile is deadlee. he gets a lot of media attention – even in europe. partly this might be due to his image of homothug. gay hip hop using elements of harder hip hop is obviously an attractive topic for the media. also musically partly on the harder side it is especially the, hm, explicitness of his rhymes that really live up to his homothug image. tough shit, that. but as every real man, he also has his softer side – for example shown in the track soldier II featuring micah barnes:

to get a more complete view of his music i suggest you have a listen at his record assault with a deadlee weapon, available here (link expired). be warned…

frontsmall2.jpeg

if homothug is not your thing – how about some history conscious and intellectual (in the best sense) queer hip hop? i love this record -a nice intro, some of the fastest rapping around, a girl talking with a french accent and a stuttering rap which is fantastic – and i did not even mention yet the lyrics yet… and if that is not enough, the record also has a really great title: bourgiebohopostpomoafrohomo by the equally great named deep dickollective. oh – and a great cover, too. you can get it here (link expired). highly recommended.

frontsmall3.jpeg

they just put out a new record, on some other. from that record here the track for colored boys:

another artist i encountered early on was soce (the elemental wizard), thanks to his hilarious track i’m so gay – a track i annoyed my friends with for a whole summer…

you can download some music from his website. for anybody understanding german, here you find an interview with him. and well, you just have to like any artist that just…floats.

another artist providing us with quite some tracks on his website is q boy from the u.k.. he is one of the view gay hip hop artists you might be able to catch outside of the english speaking world – for example he will be on the 5th of april in switzerland. i really like his flow -well, i just think an english accent sounds really good… to give you an idea here one of the tracks you can actually download from his website, quarter life crisis:

allright – we are racing here through. now let’s take a deep breath and let me present you my favourite record of the lot, a record i keep on listening over and over again. musically varied and very nice, a great mc together with a great singer, good lyrics it just had me hooked immediatly for its soul and its wit and its musicality. i am talking about god-des and she. their album reality is really a pearl. get it here (link expired).

god-des-and-she-realsmall.jpeg

and to give you an idea how smooth and beautiful their music is here their track love you better:

allright – so i have the feeling i just have thrown a personal selection of music at you – to give you some background: the queer hip hop scene might seems to be not that big, but constantly growing. and they are well connected, so most artists mentioned above did work together and alsot oured last year together on the homorevolution tour across the u.s.. additionally there are also two documentaries around that i know of: hip hop homos (featuring deadlee and god-des) and the more recent pick up the mic which seems to be more general. unfortunately i have not seen either.

it is anyway somewhat difficult to get these films and most records outside of the u.s. (and yes, i am always interested in pointers and material!) – but then you are able to obtain quite some records via cdbaby (they now also send stuff outside the u.s. – and have a prelistening function). but then there is luckily the internet -two links to get started if you want to explore the world of queer hip hop further are first gayhiphop.com, which evolved over the years from website into a discussion forum. second i recommend larry bobs gay hip hop links – a lot to discover! so -that should keep you busy for a while!

but what about queer hip hop outside the u.s. and the u.k.? well, to my knowledge not much – actually nearly nothing. i seem to remember that there was a french artist – but i have not been able to find any information on the net so far. as for the german speaking area: well, there has been the track schwule mädchen (“schwul” being german for male homosexuality – so it is translated “(male) gay girls”), that some gays found – well, gay. i rather found found it – well, it reminded me of axl rose wearing a “nobody knows i am a lesbian” t-shirt. more recently the daddys of german hip hop, die fantastischen vier, used quite extensivly drag in their video ernten was wir säen:

but the only german speaking hip hop act i know which was explicitly pro-gay, playing around in their lyrics with alluding to being gay (for some not explicit enough – but then i think it had to do with the fact that not the mc’s were gay, but the beatmaker) and working with the gay community was the austrian crew schönheitsfehler. they used to be quite successfull in austria – but it seems that these days they are more into drum ‘n’ bass.

i remember not liking their record when i first bought it, but relistening to it i actually quite like it now -it si actually quite wicked and it does have one of the nicest, most spaced out and relaxed dope-smoking songs on it that i know…

if would like to have a listen, get it here (link expired).

frontsmall4.jpeg

to give you an idea what it sounds like and because it is a really hilarious video (i love the women distributing these flyers!) here fuck you !:

so here it ends – as mentioned above, i am always interested to learn more about gay hip hop, so keep the information coming! and although this has been the last post in this series, this does not mean that i will not post any hip hop anymore, of course. so i hope you enjoyed some or all of it and discovered some new stuff, got into some new artists.

thanks for listening!

et hop! no fags allowed

March 9, 2008

since this blog is (hopefully) pretty gay, it should come as no surprise that we now will have a look at queer hip hop – after all that was the incentive to start this et hop! series in the first place.

wow, queer hip hop? that really exists? amazing – isn’t hip hop totally homophobic…bla bla bla. most articles on queer hip hop start like this. so let’s get that first out of our way and then get to the music.

hip hop’s homophobia is every now and then a topic in the mainstream press – lyrical gaybashing is always a good “controversial” attention grabber for some really hard mc (sexism is just not working that well – too common, i guess). as much as i agree that homophobia should be exposed, i usually have a strange taste in my mouth after reading one of these interchangeable articles. somehow they seem to cover up more then to expose anything.

a good starting point to try to uncover a little bit more is an article called if that’s your boyfriend (he wasn’t last night) by paul outlaw (published in 1995 in african american review, volume 29, number 2 – available here).

so hip hop is homophobic? then let me ask: which musical culture isn’t? mainstream music isn’t exactly overflowing with proud & out queers. yeah, there are some in pop, there are quite some in the indie department – and exactly one in heavy metal (hello rob! i so digged you in the 80’s – just had a problem with the music…). heavy metal is anyway a good example: anybody remembers mister axl rose and his controversial lyrics? well, he received his absolution from mister geffen… much in the same way that eminem received his absolution through elton john. don’t ask my opinion on it – i might get controversial myself. we’ll get back to these two examples, anyway. so you made a list of all the mainstream queer artists you know – now please check which of them had explicit man to man, women to women lyrics (i know, jimmy sommerville… and… well, let me know). but then paul outlaw might be just too right:

“A recording with the phrase “I’m in love with him,” when sung by one man about another, could conceivably be subject to a parental advisory sticker because of its “explicit” lyrics. (pp. 349)”

and such a sticker would not look good on an elton john record, would it?

so far from me excusing hip hop artists spewing hate, it just too often seems that accusing hip hop of homophobia has the comforting side effect that “we” can think “we” are not like that: the hip hop people are the homophobes, not we punks / rockers / folkies / etc. …

for an example that homophobia gets discussed also in other musical communities (here: jazz) you can have a look here – there are obviously some parallels and a strange coincidence.

in accusing hip hop as homophobic it sometimes looks like something else very ugly raises its head: racism. homophobia (and sexism and antisemitism) gets “exported” to black americans, french blacks and arabs, german turks and arabs. covering up the fact that neither in the u.s.a., nor in france, nor in germany one has that total liberal society (i might refer you to the post i did about that text by josé gabilondo – and the understanding the concept of heteronormativity might be helpful fo this post, too). but by blaming black / second generation immigrant male youth it suddenly seems that the aforementioned intolerance is a problem of these minorities. and only of them. but this is obviously not the case.

so – after establishing that the world is full of homophobes, let’s have a look at hip hop’s homophobia. true, in hip hop homophobia is very explicit, very aggressivly voiced and happening way too often. to a degree i think being very explicit is part of hip hop – it does not have a lyrical tradition of impersonal lyrics like other musical genres. but there seems to be a consensus in most articles (and it seems also quite logical) that it has to do with a specific way of constructing masculinity. whereas in my personal enviroment i find different ways of constructing masculiniy (if necessary), be it through the look (yeah, that butch look), be it through social status (i.e. high powered job, bmw, designer suit), be it through being fertile, it seems that in (some) hip hop culture masculinity gets not only defined through treating women like shit, having a lot of bling bling, street smartness, but also through distancing oneself very strongly from everything faggoty. and this kind of hypermasculinity usually gets linked to being something specific black american.

this might be true – but the occurence of this way of constructing masculinity seems to me too global – so i suspect that it has not only to do with being black in america, but with being at the bottom of the social ladder. otherwise it would not have been that readily adopted especially by the socially underprivileged (youth) all over the world. when other ways of constructing a satisfactory identity are not possible, then hyper-masculinity seems one of the few options. and youth is certainly a factor, too: in my personal experience it is actually true that uneasyness about ones sexuality provokes homophobic reactions. i do not believe it has much to do with fearing to be gay / lesbian. i guess it has a lot more to do that queers are preceived to be at ease with their sexuality. and this in turn seems to be a provocation for people not at ease with their sexuality. and in the country i live the big chunk of visibly hypermacho youth does to my observation not listen to hip hop – they are more, hm, nationalistic in their musical taste (but then i might be wrong on that one – but it would make for an interesting study). but this crass form of homophobia is also not limited to the youth: there are too many examples where homophobia even in its strongest, life-threathening form is sanctioned by the state.

so similar to homophobia not being limited to occur in hip hop, hypermasculinity is also not limited to young black americans. and to a degree i also do not believe that being macho is the only way for young male black americans to be masculine. but then why do we perceive it that way? why is the media giving us that picture? why does it seem the exemplary way to construct a male black identity in mainstream hip hop in contemporary america?

back to square one: i suppose it is racism. analogue to every minority it seems that the majority only allows for very few ways to portray members of a minority (for gays it’s the sissy, the disco queen, the leatherman – basically the village people – for lesbians it seems it is basically butch and femme – and one could argue that for women its the spice girls). the problem (now it comes in handy if you did read the josé gabilondo post) is that members of a minority are also members of the majority. members of a minority tend to believe that the images about them are images of them. that explains why gays have no problem being mysogynist and racist and homophobic. and it explains why gays that grew up in a hypermasculine culture that sees it as essential for masculinity to despise everything queer will not identify (not be able to identify) as gay – maybe as men having sex with men or as women having sex with women: but they are no fags or dykes – since that would mean they are not men / women (be it in parts of the hip hop culture, be it for example in saudi arabia or iran – being gay is a label reserved for foreigners. so it was only logic that the iranian president talks about not having any gays in iran. although having laws against it kind of contradicts that statement. but then he does not seem to be a man to acknowledge contradictions). and it is no coincidence that the only visible manifestation of queerness in this context seems to be the transsexual – the de-sexualised eunuch there to entertain a straight majority with that freakishness and being a safe (because far away) place for queerness in society. amusing and not threathening. yes, i would even go so far that structurally the hip hop gangsta and the “funny & outrageous” transsexual occupy similar places in bundling certain characteristics that have to be outsourced from society.

hypermasculinity as a specific way to construct masculinity for a minority has another mean drawback. and here we come to the strange coincidence mentioned above: in the comments section of the above linked article jazz and gays is an excerpt from an article i read a while ago by andrew shin titled beneath the black aesthetic: james baldwin’s primer of black american masculinity – african american gay author (originally also from the african american review, summer 1998, available here).

“In the transitional Another Country, Baldwin attempted to evoke the bohemian world through a sequence of riffs and montages, fractured forms that express the brilliance and movement of improvisation. The late-night world of jazz clubs, endless talk, and sexuality – this is the milieu that Baldwin depicts, but he debunks the popular representations of bohemian elan, extending his public argument with Mailer here through the novel form instead of the polemical essay. Baldwin contends that white liberals’ celebration of jazz as a form of oppositional cultural power has in effect robbed black bohemianism of its vanguard potential, holding it hostage to the misguided hero-worship of white consumer culture.

Positions like Mailer’s construct the black musician as stud, making his artistic authority a function of his sexual potency, a rhetorical move that epitomizes unconscious liberal racism. For Baldwin, the black musician is the intellectual, the restless experimenter who takes apart dominant musical forms and recasts them; the sexual lionizing of the black musician merely appropriates him for white consumption, and, Baldwin warns, if black musicians embrace this myth, they will be destroyed by it, as demonstrated by the case of Rufus Scott, the tragic character at the center of Another Country.”

so from jazz we come to hip hop – and it reminds me of a very angry article coming out of detroit (i’ve read it years ago and did not find it yet in my archive) by someone obviously associated to the detroit techno scene, analysing the “failure” of techno in the u.s. being in part due to the unwillingness of mainstream media, but also of the black community to acknowledge the fact that music by black artists could be abstract and intellectual and preferred to stay with the comfortable dumbness of hip hop. and i’m afraid that the person who wrote at the time this polemic essay might have a point.

so we get back (as promised) to the example of axl rose / david geffen and eminem / elton john. i do find it interesting that no other artist had an advocate defending “a homphobic lyrical slip”. hm, common did it for himself. and kanye west. so either all other artists don’t mind having some homophobe lyrics in their backcatalogue or do not find an advocate. and maybe advocating for other artists could only mean patronising? patronising in the way that the advocate actually de-constructs the artists masculinity? how playing the advocate can miserably fail i have seen in a documentary on tv about dancehall / ragga, where some young white woman defended buju banton and his homophic lyrics as due to “his youth” at the time. well, buju banton looked rather pissed off then pleased by her defending him, and i got the feeling that she actually did cross a line of what is appropriate – and after long winding sentences the only statement that he made was “we (i guess he meant “dancehall”) do our thing – they (i guess the glbt community) do their thing and we have nothing to do with each other and leave each other in peace”. funny enough from an organiser of his concerts we hear a little bit later on that he has – when booking dancehall artists – a clause in the contract that if they utter something homophobic on stage they will not receive their pay. hmmm…

so – being quite literally a batty boy (as a little aside: isn’t it fascinating how obsessed especially hip hop is with ass? and if you are into some nice ass (including an interesting comment) go here) i am still pissed off with buju banton. and i am still not accepting people spittin out hateful lyrics – in whichever musical genre. and being part of a culture that endorses such hate is no excuse – especially if it has been pointed out to you. so as much as i think that it is unacceptable for gays to be racist, i find it unacceptable for hip hop artists to be homophobic – being part of a minority does not give you the right to hit on another minority: to the contrary, if you would just think once, you might find something to learn: i do believe that there are strucural similarities in the opression of minorities. as an example i do believe that the “entertaining trassexual” and the “gangsta mc” share something more then the function mentioned above: both are ultimately disposable for society (entertain me and then fuck off) – something michael franti realized rather early on, refraining from a career in sports. that is where the “disposable heroes” in disposable heroes of hiphoprisy comes from.

“I was brought up to be a young, gifted, and black athlete, and that’s really all that I was thinking about when I went to school: just be a basketball player. And when i got to school, I found that the myth of sports, particularly for the black athlete, is a complete fallacy: you’re there for one reason and that’s to generate interest and income for the school. So obviously, the idea of Disposable Heroes comes from my own life personally, as a young black man coming up and being told, “Okay, best thing for you to do, since you’re six foot six and you’re black, is to play basketball.” And I said, “Okay, I’m good at it. I practice at it. I work hard.” And you get to a certain point where you begin to understand that sports are perpetuated by the myth of the sucessfull black athlete who is a millionaire, who is held up to all black people as a role model. On the way up everybody tries to do it, but you become a disposable hero at a certain point. You have your day in the sun, you get to whatever level you can, and then you’re thrown on the scrap heap because you’re disposable, your purpose has been served. That’s what the first part, Disposable Heroes, is about. (pp. 153/154) (Reed Ishmael, Franti Michael, Adler Bill: Hiphoprisy, A conversation with Ishmael Reed and Michael Franti, in: Transition, No.56 (1992), pp. 152-165)”

so acknowledging these structural similarities might would help to learn from our differences, differences that might produce different tactics: learn from each other how to deal with it – to compare notes. and there are things to learn, i am convinced. and then we can might learn – this time from the jewish minority and its history – that first the status of a minority is never secure in society, that minorities always have to understand the majority better then society does itself, and related to that, second that being member of a minority comes with the additional burden of not only having to educate oneself within his community (which everybody in society should – although it might be that it is even more important within minorities), but also having to educate the majority. so instead of writing dumb-ass lyrics, one should rather sit down and get some insight.

but then i am not the first one to point that out and preach it. it just seems that it is sometimes difficult to be heard, that for various reasons it does not want to be heard. so i would like to conclude with a speech by someone else. by someone whose name got dropped in quite some hip hop lyrics by different artists. i just hope they also read this speech and took it to heart. if not: do it now. and yeah, history might be indeed a weapon – source.

The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements

Speech given by Huey Newton, founder of the Black Panthers, August 15, 1970

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.
Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say ” whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.
We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.
Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppresed people in the society.
And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.
That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.
When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because they are not.
We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize that action. If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.
We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.
We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms “faggot” and “punk” should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as Nixon or Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.
We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner.

et hop! grrrr featuring big zis

March 3, 2008

GRRRR featuring Big Zis: Gib Mer

et hop! supplements

February 15, 2008

i will not post for a couple of days – a good occasion for you dear reader, to take deep breath – and maybe get back to some older posts, read my avalanches of words, might even comment on something and discover the many pearls hidden in some older posts.

i take this post as an occasion to throw up some stuff i somehow wanted to post in the et hop! series, but did in effect not post. until now. so you first might want to take a look back. so i have a free mind to write the final et hop!-posts that are still to come…

so what do we still have?

first let’s get to some oldschool hip hop / electro, new york vs. l.a. beats – a mix of some of the most important tracks (some i mentioned in earlier posts) at the time that came out on vinyl on the streetsound label. for the tracklist you can go here. and for the music go here. since i did not digitize it: thanks to the original uploader!

so we are in l.a. – so i can post now dr. dre‘s compton swap meet tape no.1 – yeah, he did mix tapes back in the days. they started to pop up on the net lately, called either compton swap meet tapes or roadium (swap meet) tapes – i got number one and loaded it up here. there are a couple more floating around the www… but you’ll have to source them yourself, i’m afraid. well – one of them from 1986 is up on mic check – i did not listen to it, yet – but the blog is in any case worth a visit!

let’s stay in the 80’s but change the coast again: i found in my boxes an early example of miami bass from the then quite known gucci crew II, truz ‘n’ vogues. maybe not the best miami bass record – but it certainly gives you a good idea. to get the four mixes (if you don’t like the lyrics, there is an instrumental version), go here. and if somebody could finally tell me what truz ‘n’ vogues means…?

labelasmall.jpeg

something newer? then i have something very fresh: the actual mix from rob hall (yes, the one from skam records), called chillin’ with the wrong b boy. not your usual hip hop mix – well, get it at his website and have a listen. definitly recommended.

and so we are already in the u.k.. since i just brushed over “real” hip hop in the u.k. (well, my point was something else), i thought it might be nice to give you an example of early english hip hop: hijack. quite known at the time, i remember they had some problems with their record company not wanting them to publish them in the u.s. – their accents were too british…whatever. if you want to have a listen how they sounded, here a short concert of theirs from the jazzfestival montreux in 1990.

as a supplement to my post about hip hop in england i can point you in the direction of some more…eeer…japanese hip hop (yeah, it is puzzling, i know). more precise: dj krush. here you’ll find a nice site with some sets of his and even some videos to have a look at his stunning technique.

relating to that same post i decided to also rip for your pleasure something from the label ninja tune. something very good, indeed. as with many ninja tunes releases, also this ones lets you think of movies: of not really scary scary movies, on one track you have some spaghetti western and then you have a lot of blaxploitation – aaah, this gnarling bass! it is a very pleasant, very musical, very wicked aural journey. so let me recommend something wicked this way comes by the herbaliser. ripped from vinyl@224 in 4 mp3-files: for each side one file… and don’t worry: the tracklist is included. get it here.

front1.jpg

then i would like to point you in the direction of the france & hip hop post. more precise: to the comments section. besides bragging on that lethal skillz left a comment on my blog you will also find some links he gave for everybody that is interested in some more lebanese hip hop. und @9 is calling out to everybody knowing more about arab hip hop to share her / his knowledge.

so – to conclude this mixed bag of stuff i propose you now something different and rather unrelated to my previous posts. but then it is a record i quite enjoy and that @9 has not yet posted (yep, i checked this time), but something he most probably knows. so how about some swiss hip hop? lpr (that stands for les poétes rapides) hail from berne and made an entertaining record with a charming touch of silliness. not much i know about them (but then i do not follow the swiss hip hop scene closely) – it seems they are at the moment rather inactive. at least their website hasn’t been updated for quite a while. definitly fun, you can get their record bäredräck here.

frontsmall5.jpeg

to give you an idea of their sound, here the rather cool video to their single extro:

pfuuuh – so that’s all for now, folks. enjoy – and see you around…

et hop! the difficult child

February 7, 2008

so i presented you in the little et hop!-series a trip through hip hop – very subjective and partly in a very short fashion. but more or less it follows my experiences with hip hop and its many different formulations. but i left out two topics that i will explore in this and the next post. in this post i would like to present a somewhat different story of hip hop, to a degree even leaving the genre of hip hop.

so let’s go back to the beginning, again. this time i would like to explore a different kind of hip hop – a substyle that then partly left the home of hip hop and wandered the world finding another home – techno. this time i would like to present you the difficult child of hip hop: electro.

i would like to start with planet rock by africa bambaataa – if you would like to have a look and a listen again, i posted the video in my first et hop!-post here. it is a good starting point, because i will now (somewhat artificially) try to pitch three strains of hip hop against each other. first we have something i would like to call “party-hip hop”. maybe the original version of hip hop – after all hip hop was first party music, developed end of the 1970’s at block parties. using a wide range of influences, i would like to point out especially one influence: james brown. the godfather of funk and soul. i guess james brown must be the most sampled musician in hip hop, he was and still is highly influental – well, he was just a great artist. lyrically “party hip hop” is about, well, parties, girls, and bragging, and more parties…

a second strain i would like to call “cnn-hip hop”, this going back to the saying of public enemy (if i remember that correctly) that hip hop is the cnn of the black people of america. the iconic track here is certainly grandmaster flash‘s the message. and of course everything by public enemy. musically pretty close to “party hip hop” (although over time getting harder) i would like to put it also in the tradition of the funk of james brown. lyrically it is political, be it already through the description of daily life, be it by directly teaching history and politics (yep, that’s where “infotainment” comes from).

and the third early strain i would like to call: electro. and africa bambaataas is the prime example for it. musically it is for me less in the tradition of james brown, but in the tradition of sly stone and especially parliament and funkadelic. what’s the difference to james brown? i do not want to go into the musical differences but point out to other differences. first is the presentation. while james brown was certainly a master of ceremony with a fantastically tight backing band, parliament / funkadelic were more something of a collective. in the person of george clinton they also had their bandleader, but in concerts it looked certainly less focused on one person. the second difference is the inventing of stories. while james brown was singing about life “as we know it” and presented himself as james brown, especially funkadelic invented characters and also a whole universe of spaceships and aliens and so on. to my observation africa bambaataa is the first to take this up in the early hip hop days. the idea of a collective, of a special social group that comes together thanks to the music (one nation under a groove), a group that shares beyond the same music ideals of how to live (together). and africa bambaataa also took up the rather, hm, eccentric way to present his music. we will see later on that these elements surface again in some other place.

so where “party hip hop” and “cnn hip hop” are rather in a tradition of james brown and then also of other soul and funk acts as well as disco and reggae, the electro tradition seems closer to the funk of parliament / funkadelic (and in case you wonder: i would put most gangsta hip hop in the category of “party hip hop”, even if it tries hard to mask as “cnn hip hop”).

but then to electro there has been another source of inspiration: kraftwerk. the german band that made already in the mid-seventies electronic music. their musical aesthetic has obviously been a huge influence – and on africa bambaataa’s planet rock you hear bits of two tracks of them. let me say a couple of words on kraftwerk, then. often referenced as pioneers of electronic music and even idealized i do have some problems with descriptions of kraftwerk as the inventors of electronic music and or a revolutionary band as well as with the band and their music. obviously hearing their early work has been something of a shock to a whole generation of artists in america. kraftwek always pops up in quite some interviews especially with pioneers of american electronic music as a major influence. fair enough. it is interesting to note, though, that this is far less the case in interviews with european artists. this might be due to the fact that kraftwerk were not the only ones doing electronic music at the time. electronic music actually has been made as early as in the fifties (if you take the theremin, a strange instrument as the the beginning of electronic music it is actually early 20th century – but i’m being a smartass). but there was a problem with using electronics: it was expensive and therefore usually only available to repectable avantgarde composers/musicians being allowed to use the infrastructure of “labs” at radio-studios or universities. of course that music did not have a big audience and i guess it was not easy to get to hear it. but starting in the seventies, quite some european bands out of a more “popular” context, and especially german bands, started to experiment with electronica. here we should not forget pink floyd, and certainly mention tangerine dream and (connected to them) klaus schulze as well as some recordings of can. and in france a certain jean michel jarre started to make rather strange records for his time, too. so kraftwerk were certainly one of the early ones – but not the only ones. but they actually did something quite unique: first they insisted on “the machine”. the idea is that man is actually an extension of the machine. this was certainly quite a provocation to the psychedelic groove of the seventies – imagewise it meant that they cut their hair and dressed in suits when everybody else was still doing the the hippielook. together with that they established and perfected their sound aesthetic which they are famous for: the cold, machinistic sounding music. in a way they sounded digital before digital music existed. but then also the monotone aspects and the topic of the machine in music were not really new: the monotone and repetitive had been explored by comosers already (minimalism and “serielle komposition”), and the topic of machines, the humans, modern society has been an important topic already for the futurists in the early 20th century. so for me the new thing that kraftwerk brought to music is their aesthetic, their sound-design – and then they made something possible: the crossover of all the above mentioned ideas and influences, which are primarly high-brow art into popmusic. certainly the adding of a harder beat then let’s say tangerine dream as well as their talent for catchy little melodies was doing the trick. so i do appreciate and respect them for that. and only for that. because then my problem with kraftwerk starts: relistening to their records, i find them again not that stunning. i do find it partly silly (radioactivity) and the good parts are actually pop with little and usually quite simple melodies and some rather, well, simple lyrics, too (the model). but then kraftwerk always cultivated their image as making something like high art. and that’s where for me it gets just plain boring: they are not. for me they are much closer to depeche mode then to stockhausen (although they do share with stockhausen the strong tendency to be delusional). the comparison to depeche mode is for me a good one: both bands manged to survive with an actually slightly outdated electronic sound – avoiding the sad fate of bands like front 242 or d.a.f. that made some fantastic records, but seem to have been eaten up by the fast evolution of music-making technology. so while depeche mode seem to very conscious of what they are, what they do and where they stand and keep on being creative and writing catchy popsongs, kraftwerk just put on that big air of the mysterious artist that came out of nowhere, is a genius and creates ART. well, the only fun record they made since the early 1980’s was tour de france – and this because it amused me how extremly homoerotic this track and how nobody seemed to want to notice. to make it even uglier, kraftwerk seem to be more busy suing the illegitime use of “their work” then with anything else – in germany they even threaten to sue you if you sell your old kraftwerk records on ebay. so to stop me now ranting on and on: kraftwerk should be appreciated for popularizing certain aesthetics and topics and for influencing some truly great artists – but in 2008, they make it very hard for me to still respect them.

so – let’s get back to the original topic of this post. how about some music? africa bambaataa was not the only one: interesting enoughsome great electro records came out all around the same time. the ones i would like to mention is hashim‘s al nayifish – a classic from the early eighties. and i found on youtube a nice little snippet of the song with some early breakbeating to it. enjoy:

then there is this other track from around the same time – a great rack, a track that still excites me. unfortunately there is no video to it, so you get the next best thing: it’s use as a sample in a much newer track. i am talking about cybotron‘s clear. great stuff. and please note that one member of cybotron was juan atkins, who later rase to fame as one of detroits finest artists. as a reminder here missy elliott’s loose control, that is based on a sample of clear. it is interesting that this is one of the few re-entries of electro into hip hop:

and if you want to hear the original, you can get the whole record of cybotron, also called clear, over here.

juan atkins quite early left the group again, but not only raised to fame as a techno producer, he also continued and continues to make electro, very classic electro under one of his aliases: model 500. here the track night drive, taped live last year in japan:

and if you would like some more model 500, here a short live recording from 1998.

in general electro was only successful underground – somehow the vocoder-voices and the topics of robots and aliens and abandoned cities at night, as well as the cold aesthetic of the music never reached mass-appeal. and even as dance-music it is difficult. i guess it is also due to the factthat an electro evening will usually not generate the same euphoria and extasy as other styles of dance music. but the influence has been there and is still there: in hip hop, there is miami bass taking up some of the aesthetic of electro. and in the u.k. its aesthetic (like other hip hop) influenced various artists. as a kind of pop-hybrid electro even saw a chart success: remember paul hardcastle‘s 19?

and yes, the man is still active – you can visit his website here.

you can follow the influence of electro in the electronic music especially in the u.k. through many styles: be it breakbeat and then in the darker side of drum ‘n’ bass (that at times shared also the thematic obsession of the extraterrestrial and technology) to techno, of course (the highly respected artist dave clarke, better known for his hard techno tracks, published quite early on an electro mix called electro boogie in the then famous x-mix series) to the beat experimentation of some of aphex twin and squarepusher’s work.

but electro found his home back in america, in detroit. not only have quite a lot of artists especially in detroit stayed true to the original aesthetic of electro, but also took up the ideas of community and of inventing their own world / narratives in the tradition of kraftwerk / funkadelic / afrika bambaataa. a first mention should go out to tommy hamilton and keith tucker, better known as aux 88. as their website states: detroit electro elite. not much i can add to that. maybe just one thing: they are for me exceptional because they really stayed “with electro”. most artists produce not only electro, but also detroit techno or more general electronic music. but aux 88 are really disciples of electro… so i propose you a recording from their live performance at the detroit electronic music festival from last year. here you get aux 88 live at the demf 2007.

then i had the chance once to meet keith tucker (one half of aux 88) in person. a very nice man. he also records as a solo artist under the names of keith tucker, dj k1, kt19941, and optic nerve. yeah, he is quite a bunch – but he always stays true to electro. his brand of electro although seems to me more naked, more dry – while the electro of let’s say model 500 evokes for me drives through empty industrial areas, keith tucker’s music would for me also fit for a drive through the desert of nevada at night. to illustrate that i loaded up his lifeform ep that also includes a track called area 51. so here you get the lifeform ep by kt-19941, ripped from vinyl@224. enjoy! and please do visit his website.

label01small.jpeg

and now i would like to present the ideological succesors to what i called the third line of hip hop. they invented a whole mythology of being from outer space. that might seem some kind of silly retro science fiction fantasy: but it is not. it is rather an alternative political narrative. inventing another history for its own minority, escaping. it is not exactly escaping history – these artists are very history-conscious and do know their history. it is therefore more precisely escaping the dominant narratives, these narratives that put members of a minority (here black americans) in a certain context and assign specific identities and roles. and to create a new context, one has to invent a new narrative, a new history. this history allows therefore for a freer play with identity and roles. and it additionally does not only reframe the history of a minority, it also puts through the theme of aliens and space the emphasis on the future then rather on the past. there we see even a connection to the beat generation, which also saw going into space (also quite literally) as the possibility for human kind to raise to a new level. connected to that is the positive attitude to technology – as long as it is used by the people to advance human kind. while kraftwerk had the attitude that humans are just the extension of the machine (which then became more elaborated in the idea of the cyborg), technology and music-machines are now seen as weapons, too. weapons for social change. embodied is this ideology in one of the most mythical collectives of detroit techno, underground resistance. musically definitly techno they also recorded quite a bit of electro tracks. founded originally by jeff mills, robert hood and mike banks, it became after a couple of years the project of mike banks and a lot of associated artists. besides inventing their own universe and their own identities, undergound resistance has always been outspoken on political issues – and put their ideology also into action. besides participating in projects for their local community, they also showed it through their dealing with was is called the music industry and media: radically independent in production and distribution, also interviews have been rare and identities are often hidden: the focus should be on the music and on the context that is usually provided on the sleeves of the records, the tracktitles and in the music itself. yes, demanding music. but worth getting into it: showing a rather unique way to connect music, the social, and the political. and on top of it the music is very good. for both (music and their specific context / ideology) underground resistance are highly respected and continue to be very influental – and are ironically something like stars of electronic music . to give you a better idea, i would like you to listen now to their great release interstellar fugitives. tracks of different artists under different disguises are collected on that record. musically there is quite a lot of electro: but a lot harsher and harder version then from the artists presented above. also it is interesting that this record provides a wider musical context, too: there are some techno tracks, something you could file under “experimental electronica” and also one house track, building a bridge to the history of black music. another obvious reference is again to kraftwerk: one track is called afrogermanic. i highly recommend you have a listen – for me this record is definitly a classic. so get underground resistance, interstellar fugitives (ripped from vinyl@224) here. and please visit their website.

front.jpg

more? more underground resistance? for an early live recording you can go here. if you would like to have a listen to a newer liveset i recommend you visit this excellent website. and if you scroll down on this great site you will also find a set by optic nerve (keith tucker). and there are a lot more reasons to visit this site…

and electro might not be the most popular of musical genres, but it continues to be made: for some newer and lesser known artists i recommend the website of the label transient force, where you can also get an earfull – i.e. get some mixes and live pa’s.

MISSION:

TRANSIENT:
A SUDDEN PULSE OF VOLTAGE OR CURRENT

FORCE:
PHYSICAL POWER OR STRENGTH POSSESSED BY A LIVING BEING

TRANSIENT FORCE:
ENERGY THROUGH MECHANICS THAT PASSES THROUGH ALL LIVING MATTER.
THIS ENERGY IS NEITHER CONTROLLABLE NOR PREDICTABLE BUT YET
SYSTEMATIC. WE ARE HERE TO RANDOMLY EXTRACT SOUNDS OF FUTURE THOUGHT, CREATING MUSIC THAT IS EVERLASTING FOR ALL TO PROCESS.

and what happened with electro in the rest of the world? it was always around. many electronic artists do produce also electro tracks – although quite often hidden on some b-sides. but to my knowledge there aren’t any artists focussing only on electro (anthony rother in his beginnings maybe – but definitly not anymore). but every couple of years there is a track that raises awareness again for electro.

one of the big tunes was certainly i-f’s space invaders smoking grass:

and a couple of years later it was tiga‘s sunglasses at night:

both examples show that electro underwent especially in europe a couple of transformations, got combined with other influences: in i-f‘s case there is a strong influence of early techno pop (visage‘s fade to gray comes to mind), in the case of tiga he actually was one of the artists responsible for the trend electro clash. he consequently got signed on the label international gigolo records of the german dj hell – and here we see electro standing rather in a tradition of “the munich machine”, of the disco productions of giorgio moroder (most famous for donna summer‘s i feel love). so electro stayed in europe far less “pure” – this might be also due to the fact that the tradition of (popular) electronic music seems to be a lot more varied in europe.

and in one genre of electronic music electro made quite an impact, too: in ambient. the use of the typical electro beats is quite strong in the field of ambient, or better “electronic music to listen to” (ambient is for me even quieter), i.e. not created for the dancefloor. there are quite some examples for that – in the last years there has been especially the german label electrolux fostering that hybridisation.

so as a final acoustic example and to (finally) conclude this post i would like to propose something more quiet, something soothing from an artist that also published on the label electrolux. if you would like to hear the more quiet side of electro, i propose you get ruxpin‘s record radio here (also ripped from vinyl@224). how to describe his music? well, the cover for me transmits quite well the mood of this recording…

coversmall.jpg

if you would like to listen to a newer live-set, i propose you head over to another very good website providing high quality electronic music for your listening pleasure here. and you find ruxpin also on myspace.

et hop! el electro

February 2, 2008

frontsmall.jpeg

to get you in the mood for the next et hop!-post which will be rather big (it will be closer to “my turf”) here a mix that foreshadows what i will be talking about and what i will propose you to listen to.

it is one of these rare mixes that stayed over the years with me. i do listen to quite some dj-mixes – most mixes i listen to once or twice – then there are the mixes i take a liking to and listen to quite a lot over a period of time. and then there are very few mixes that never leave, that i listen to over and over again over the years, that become iconic for various reasons. the mix i present today is one of them.

it is a mix that is uncompromising in its musicality – it has quite a scope and a strange flow that seems somehow odd but is at the same time compelling. and being so focused on being musical, it seems to me in an interesting way an elusive mix: somehow i always think i get it – but i do have to relisten to it again and again. the beauty in it all is that i never get it: it seems that this mix is made to make sense in many ways and manages everytime to shift its sense depending on when and where i listen to it.

not a stranger to this blog, it is a mix by d.k.b. (yeah, really one of your best ones!) called el electro. i do not know why “el” (related to the cover?) – but the “electro” points you into the direction of the musical genre, loosely…

tapesmall.jpeg

get it here. i ripped it from tape as 2 mp3-files (side a / side b), the coverart is inluded. and you better listen to it on a good system / with good headphones: it has quite some bass…

enjoy!

inlaysmall.jpeg

et hop! meanwhile, on the other side of the channel…

January 29, 2008

don’t be afraid: i will not do “hip hop by country” now. i just decided to present in a very short way what happened in france and now, partly as a contrast, what happened in the u.k. to raise some awareness of different ways a musical style got adpoted, ingested, digested. and these two countries seemed for my purposes pretty good – and then it is also my very personal view on some hip hop sounds i listened to at the time and still listen to today.

so what happened in the u.k.? they got to know hip hop quite early on – for example public enemy toured there already early on – and one would have expected that hip hop would catch on quite quickly – on top of it they understood all the lyrics. but then having (nearly) the same language might have been also an obstacle. the french mc’s could take over and make it their own already by rapping in their own language. but i do remember that way into the nineties many complained that a lot of british mc’s just sounded silly, since they tried to imitate the accent of the bronx or compton, but came from manchester or edinburgh. yeah – realness clashing with realness… not that there would not have been a lot of hip hop in the u.k. at the time – but it seemed that it never became a big thing. one could actually argue that the first mc to make it big emerged only a couple of years ago: mike skinner, better known as the streets. well, let’s have an earfull then. from his debut the song has it come to this.

this track especially shows something quite interesting: you can file the streets definitly under hip hop, but there are other heavy, very british influences, too. in this case two step.

so compared to france it seemed that hip hop took on only very slowly. reasons for that could be, beside the language, that the independent scene might did not welcome hip hop as open-armed as in france. then there seemed a lesser need on part of the youth to find their expression in this kind of music. and connected to that hip hop had a big rival: the rise of electronic dance music in its many different forms. and if we look again at france: they needed years “to get” electronic dance music (despite laurent garnier). outdoor rave parties in france started to show up as late as in the late nineties (including the bad press of pillpopping youth – quite a déja vu, compared to the u.k. or germany). so the u.k. seemed less in need, or had less space for yet another musical genre. allright, all that might be true – but it is also quite wrong. it is true if we are looking for hip hop that sounds close enough to american hip hop with the flavour of “ghetto youth”. but that is a rather limited point of view. expecting to see a british public enemy seemed to me always rather silly – especially since in the eighties the u.k. had already so much political music in many styles.

and in a way hip hop took on very well in england – it just looked different. in the early nineties there were quite a lot of sucessfull artists taking the hip hop influence (well, one of the first was malcolm mclaren – but then he was living in new york at the time). one of the first hits on this more pop side of hip hop was certainly neneh cherry‘s buffalo stance. so have a trip down memory lane and enjoy the video:

quite a number of other artists started not only to use similar beats, although then quite often rather in the context of dance music, but rapping got rather popular, too. if you want to stretch it a little bit, you could even file neil tennant’s talking on west end girls under “influenced by hip hop”. and since i do like the pet shop boys and their first hit, here we go:

and then there was one band that was considered hip hop at the time, although not by everybody: the stereo mc’s. they made a fantastic debut record and had a huge hit with connected. still a great song. and one of their concerts i’ve seen was one of the great moments in the history of live music. the dj playing before played for more then half an hour connected in different versions, hyping the crowd to the max. so when they came onstage, they were confronted to an audience which was already boiling like usually at the end of a show. i’ve rarely seen a band greeted with such a high level of energy just by getting on stage. and yes, they were rather puzzled in the beginning. big fun.

but let’s get even more, hm, hip hop again. what people forgot when complaining that there was no “real” hip hop in the u.k. was that hip hop is more then the big selling american artists made you believe. and if they would have looked again, they would have seen that hip hop was very quickly part of the u.k. musical landscape. more obvious under names like abstract or instrumental hip hop, maybe a little bit less obvious under the name beat science or even electronica. i guess what irritated people at the time was that that these differet forms of hip hop were published within the electronic music scene. and that it left to a big degree the mc outside the door. so hip hop got actually ingested into the young electronic scene – and it bred many offsprings with many other styles.

the better known ones coming out of “the bristol scene”: mixing entre autre hip hop with reggae, dub, electronica, bands like massive attack and portishead emerged, later on tricky – and then some important players of the drum ‘n’ bass scene (dj krust, for example). let’s not forget that a lot of the music mentioned was called for a while trip hop (sorry, tricky). and let’s also not forget that the mc actually did show up again in drum ‘n’ bass. so this is a good occassion to show one of the best videos of a band that made a lot of very nice videos. here unfinished sympathy by massive attack:

rapping also showed up in other, maybe unexpected places – quite a number of bands that were at the time filed under acid jazz like for example galliano had mc’s. so it seemed that in the u.k. hip hop got actually taken apart and different parts have been used in combination with different styles.

and we also come back to the problem that hip hop suddenly seemed to mean “mc rapping over broken beats”. that hip hop also ment and means scratching and turntablism (using the turntable as an instrument), graffiti and breakdancing got a little bit forgotten. and especially on the front of experimental, abstract, instrumental hip hop and breakscience there were and are a number of labels publishing amazing stuff in england. it even seems that for a time they were actually the only ones to publish records of this kind of hip hop even for american artists.

one of the experimental labels, one still going strong, is coldcut‘s label ninja tune. more on the side of beatscience and always interested in experimentation and especially also sampling and cut-ip methods they published a wide array of exciting and genre defying music. and coldcut have been quite successfull quite early on, too. especially their track timber and the accompanying video was not only a success, but also something at the time unheard and unseen.

if you are interested to see / hear / read what ninja tune are up to these days i recommend you visit their website.

another label that was at the time one of my favourites was james lavelle‘s (yes, the one from unkle) mo’ wax. definitly ecclectic, but always interesting. from the experimental hip hop of dr. octagon to the electronic experimentation of autechre they published a lot of great stuff. and yes, since it is time for some music now, i recommend you get now one of my “fetish-12″”. under the catalogue number mw024 they published a split-maxi with on one side dj shadow (lost and found) and on the other side dj krush (kemuri). interesting to note that these two are big names up to this day in instrumental hip hop / turntablism – and that dj shadow is american and dj krush is japanese. and i would like to mention that it is great stuff. get it here (ripped from vinyl@224).

mw024small.jpeg

if you would like an overview of what mo’ wax had to offer (it seems that the label is now defunct) i propose you head over to geez back ma heid! and get the headz-compilation. enjoy!

so while we’re at it i have the pleasure to present you something of..eerrr…well, something special. what always gets mentioned when talking about mo’ wax is the great cover art. the visual style of mo’ wax was to a big degree getting such a lot of attention thanks to especially one artist: futura 2000. he has an interesting website – go and have a look! he was definitly an early adopter and started very early on with graffiti. but back in 1982 he tried his hands on – rapping. yes, there is a maxi-single by mister futura2000 called and his escapades. so this is really early hip hop. it’s not a reason to wish that he would have stopped with his visual art, but it is actually quite sweet. and what is really interesting: the people that collaborated. so the lyrics and the vocals (yep, on the cover it says “vocals”) are by futura2000. the music is – tadah! – by the clash. and for backing vocals responsible are: fab 5 freddy and dondi. amazing, huh? if you want a listen to the escapades of futura2000 (including the dub-mix) get it here (again, ripped from vinyl@224). quite an interesting historic document.

frontsmall2.jpeg

so what i basically observed at the time with hip hop in england was that there was a very underground hip hop scene modelled according to the american role model. but far more interesting to me was the influence of hip hop as described in this post. that there were / are no reservations between artists working rather on the hip hop side of things and others working in the different fields of electronic music. even a label like warp (best known for its output of experimental electronica) published quite a number of hip hop records.

yeah, what i want to get at is that focussing on the music and less on the construction of your ego will overcome boundaries and make things more interesting. and if we compare it to france: there the overcoming of musical genre-boundaries was partly possible by constructing identity not as some bling bling-ego, but as an political identity. this enables alliances with a number of people that might choose different forms of expression. so both examples show ways out of this selfsufficient, egomaniac musical genre (in this example hip hop)-cliché (and yes, i know i am over-simplifying).

then i also wanted to show that musical genres are helpful as an orientation. but the downside is when they harden into judgments of what is good or bad and what something should sound like. i never forget being at a concert of the fantastic turntablists the x-ecutioners and had these dumb people complaining that this could never be real hip hop since nobody is rapping. ugly.

but i want to finish this post in beauty and propose you a gem from a man from brighton, known for his graffiti and not well enough known for his unique music. a record that seemed to me always very hip hop – and at the same time having a very “electronica sensibility” (well, he also published on warp) – something to do with the work on the textures, i guess. so a record for fans of hip hop as well for fans of electronic sounds – as well as for fans of late night records. and of course for everybody who likes good music.

the man is called req and the record is called one. you can get req::one here. ripped from vinyl as two mp3 files (side a/side b), tracklist included. do enjoy!

frontsmall3.jpeg

et hop! ze early adopters

January 27, 2008

time to leave american hip hop for a while.

it was interesting to follow in the 1990’s not only the mainstreaming of hip hop, but also the adoption of hip hop in the different european countries. some were slower, some were faster – one place where hip hop got not only accepted, but has been made their own pretty fast is to my recollection france.

my guess is that some factors made it easy for hip hop to become “french”. first hip hop is ideal for asserting and constructing identity. and at the time the youth of immigrants in france did not really have their own music. of course france always had a lot of music, brought from the (ex-)colonies and with different immigrants: but music that developed specifically within the youth of immigrants – not really. of course you heard at the time a lot of african music, as well as for example raï. but there was no tradition of french music that took these influences and made them its own (with the notable exception of the rock band carte de séjour – and maybe dazibao). so hip hop quite literally gave a voice to a generation that could not find themselves neither in the music of the country of their parents, nor in the music of their homecountry, france.

another reason for the french take-over seems to me also the acceptance of hip hop in the alternative / underground scene: france had by the late eighties a fantastic alternative scene – fantastic this time not referring to the music, but to the infrastructure. there was a tight net, reaching even to the small villages, of labels, distributors (new rose!), and record shops, due to the huge success of punk in france and its accompanying do it yourself, anti-industry spirit. i do remember standing in paris in the late eighties in the record shop that was somehow affilitated to the scene of les béruriers noirs (don’t remember the name – but strange enough i do remember the address more or less: rue du roi de naple?) and being amazed at the selection of hip hop records available. so hip hop seems to have been understood in france very fast as a voice of the youth, as an independent youth-culture and could therefore rely on the sympathies and infrastructure of the already existing underground music culture. and hip hop was very early on also quite sucessfull: there have been the rude boys from ntm (now: supreme ntm), rude, hard, but also political. yeah, controversial and successfull – maybe they could have been seen as the french n.w.a.’s at the time.

then in the south, in marseille, from the planète mars came i am – definitly raising their voices clear and loud. not only did they develop their unique brand of hip hop that is musically not afraid of being very rich. and they are one of the best hip hop live acts (and to my recollection they did the ninja-thing before wu-tang – although mixed with, err..agyptian mysticism). and they also always showed a healthy dose of humour. so here from their first record the song tam tam de l’afrique – exactly dealing with france’s history of immigration.

and then of course there has been this huge hit in 1992, caroline, by our favourite intellectual mc: mc solaar.

i remember seeing very early on an interview with him on tv and was just floored: even when he answered questions in an interview he had a flow – he talked music! and then he was not afraid to namedrop every important thinker of the 20th century. that certainly made for a change… a lot more pop and more playful then the other two examples – quite unique in his way he made a lot of good records – and you just have to love him for his cover of cinquième as.

5emeas.jpg

especially to i am and mc solaar i listened to a lot at the time (and recently again – since i am finally published a new record last year). for more information about these artists you can visit i am‘s website here, and mc solaar‘s website here.

if you are interested in more french hip hop, i recommend to look around at leave your nine at home – and yes, he has a soft spot for i am, too.

and if you would like to learn more about the youth in the banlieues at these times in france i highly recommend a film by mathieu kassovitz from 1995, la haine (engl.: hate). great movie (yes, vincent cassel is also in that one) – a gritty fictional documentary in black and white. highly recommended.

“C’est l’histoire d’un homme qui tombe d’un immeuble de cinquante étages. Le mec, au fur et à mesure de sa chute se répète sans cesse pour se rassurer : jusqu’ici tout va bien, jusqu’ici tout va bien, jusqu’ici tout va bien. Mais l’important c’est pas la chute, c’est l’atterrissage. (La Haine, Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995, Hubert Koundé)”

la-haine.jpg

so – time for some music! allright, i decided on somthing not that known, something i really like, and something that shows also musically the possibilities of fusing hip hop with other music – in this case with arab music.

first we have clotaire k with his record lebanese. fat hip hop with a lot of arab influences, lyrics are in french, arab, and english. if you like your hip hop beats with quite a lot of wumms, then this is the record for you! not exactly hard, but with a lot of energy.

frontsmall.jpeg

get it here. and visit his website here.

if you like the arab influence (in this case more precisely: berber), but like your beats more abstract, partly leaving the hip hop turf, then i recommend a little underground gem. especially the opening track is quite a journey – wow. i don’t want to say too much about this record – it is something you better just listen to. it is naab with his record salam haleikoum. he used to have a nice website – but not anymore. so not much more information – get it here, sit down, turn up the volume and tune in!

frontsmall1.jpeg

et hop! paradise don’t come cheap

January 11, 2008

mad? definitly. if you have read the comments to the rumi-post over at square dancing…, then you might guessed that i would post now this one. it fits nicely in the context of o.h.m. for being also an outstanding, unique record (althoug it is the second record they made – but then i do find the first one far less interesting) and certainly has also a lot of madness like rumi – or maybe like the weirder stuff of the beasty boys (the really weird and screeching stuff). but it is not the hysterical, big city neurotic-ness of the beasty boys. it is slower, the voices are deeper – it is a madness born out of the desert and its endless highways, not neurotic, but rather psychotic. real dirty hip hop – not dirty because it is vulgar (it is not), but dirty because of the music. and yes, again i post a hip hop record that really is on the margins of what most people would call hip hop. it is in a sunburned way harsh – but then it does have also its dose of humour…

after doom and the apocalypse, at the last day we will get divided into the ones destined for hell – and the ones destined for heaven. and if you are catholic and have been bad you still get a chance via the purgatory. but – and that seems very catholic to me – remember: paradise don’t come cheap! so even afterlife sucks – but at least we still have great music…
so let me introduce you to new kingdom‘s paradise don’t come cheap. seemingly out of print, i feel it my duty to make it available here to everybody interested.

coversmall.jpeg

i ripped it as two mp3-files (side a / side b) @224 from vinyl – the tracklist is included. get it here and – enjoy!

there are rumours (since years) of a follow up to paradise don’t come cheap – but so far these rumours are just that: rumours. for more information on new kingdom you can visit the un-official site, a fan site called newkingdomcity.

et hop! mad?

January 10, 2008

i think outstanding music (and art in general – and i guess it also applies for science and other areas) can be called mad. mad not in the medical sense – but mad because borders of “how to do it” are not respected, the usual techniques to make sense are not applied. o.h.m. (from the last post) makes for a good example: the beats are too fuzzy, there are way too many sounds on it, and how can you have in one moment something like post-rock guitars and then a salsa snippet? it does not make any sense! the beauty is: yes, it does. it opens the door to new ways of making sense, and in the best case therefore to new ways of perception and thinking. and there lies for me the beauty and fascination of art, especially music, but also of science and other forms of cultural production. and for the musicians i consider most interesting it seems to be a big part of their motivation, too. to cross these given borders of what constitutes “normal” or “good” and go beyond. and yes, there is an utopian aspect to it, too. and yes, i will certainly come back to that – be it in the context of reviewing texts about music, be it by presenting certain musicians that stress this aspect in their music (hello, cristian vogel!).

but what has that to do with hip hop? well, it applies to hip hop, too. but there is more: funny enough i seem to have a preference for mad mad hip hop, too. meaning hip hop with a nearly medical madness: with an intensity, an urgency that borders on the insane. be it the sparse grittiness of clipse, be it the lyrical madness of mc 900 ft jesus, be it the obsession of mood with doom, be it the disturbingly mumbling sensational.

or be it the hysterical quality of rumi rapping fast over sick beats. mc rumi is a japanese mc – and well, part of the hysterical quality certainly comes from the fact that japanese to my ears just sounds so… well… let’s just say different. but the music has a dark and driving quality and combined with the high pitched rapping of rumi it makes for intense listening. i came across her music thanks to square dancing in a round house – and that is where i am sending you to now. so go over there and get some more information on her as well as her first record, hell me tight.

to wetten your appetite (or to scare you away), here the video to sanagi (from hell me tight):

et hop! on an excursion

January 8, 2008

taking up the thread of sunbathinglizard’s little journey through da hip and da hop…where we were? doom, armageddon, the dark side. and what do we think of when hearing that and hip hop? wu tang clan, most will say. yeah, that would fit. but then you get enough wu on the net – i don’t feel it necessary to add anything to that.

but i am thinking of something more…leftfield. i guess for the regular reader of this blog this does not come as a surprise. but then you are not here to encounter stuff you already know, i hope. so what am i thinking of? i am thinking of wordsound.

wordsound.jpg

wordsound is a brooklyn, n.y. based label with a cool logo that publishes music that is for the most part on the darker side. a friend of mine described it once as “a warm and friendly armageddon” – again impending doom is obviously no reason to get all excited and that. but once more it seems to be a good reason to make some outstanding music. in the beginning wordsound was actually perceived as a dub, or better: neo-dub label. for the ones not knowing what dub is: it is the slow and spacey offspring of reggae. in the last years it developed into and influenced many musical forms, for me most notably in electronic music – from dubtechno to yeah, dubstep. but this post is not about dub (i guess some time i will have to do some posts about dubby sounds… yeah, the list of topics to cover just grows steadily). but then wordsound always crossed the borders of dub – sometimes into the direction of drum ‘n’ bass (dr. israel), and quite often into hip hop territory. a very different kind of hip hop – the opposite of slick, flashy, glitzy hip hop – it is warm, muddy, darkish hip hop. but even in its warmness it very often also transports the feeling of a certain paranoia underneath – of impending doom. but don’t be scared: most wordsound releases are very listenable – and well worth discovering.

to give you an overview of their sound i actually wanted to post one of their samplers, providing an overview of a wide array of their artists (which served for me as introduction to their sonic universe) with the great title crooklyn dub consortium vol. 2: great music packed into a great cover (and that covers just reminds me of almamegrettas line: “dub is my weapon, bass is my gun”):

2crook.jpg

but then there a other blogs with a lot of taste – meaning you can grab not only vol. 2, but also vol. 1 & 3 over at the musical coco basket. and yes, i would be interested in vol. 4, too. at the musical basket you’ll also find more wordsound records, especially two records of the overlord of the underground spectre with his unique brand of dark, de- and re-constructed hip hop – one of the great artists of underground / experimental hip hop in my humble opinion. and an additional record by spectre you’ll find over at double avenue. additionally double avenue also upped two records by prince charming, better known as prince paul – this i recommend especially for the more psychedelic inclined of you. so what should i post from the wordsound catalogue? sensational would be now the logical thing – after all he delivered one of the best opening lines for an album: as i arrive on the bassline… plus he just published a new album (which i unfortunately haven’t listened to, yet). but then i had to find out that i stored his records away – aaargh.

but to give you an idea here a collaboration of spectre with sensational, pillars of smoke:

so i am posting here something that is not really on the, or not only, on the hip hop side of the wordsound catalogue. and it is also not that dark – it does stand somehow a little bit apart. on the other hand i guess such a record was maybe only possible to do on wordsound… and although i present it here like something of a last exit, it is actually one of the best records i have. now let that sink in.

ohm.jpg

o.h.m.‘s grounded to the inner current is a record that for me is nearly a hörspiel, something of a concept record in the sense that it sounds like you are strolling through different neighbourhoods in a city in summer. you have your headphones on and are listening to beats that mysteriously mix perfectly with all the different sounds blaring out from windows and shops: snippets of people speaking, hornsections, eastern influenced sounds, noisy screeching guitars, salsa bits, and a lot more. sounds like a mess? it is, but one like a big river, taking all kinds of stuff with it but connecting them in its powerful flow… and this record, after that many times i listened to it in many different places and situations, still lets me travel in into different places and evoking different moods from darkness to euphoria, sometimes changing within the blink of an eye. yep, this record is indeed a masterpiece. let that sink in, too.

and now get it here. i ripped it as two tracks (side a / side b) @224 from vinyl. the tracklist is included. enjoy!

unfortunately i do not know if and if yes what k. bennu (the person behind o.h.m.) made after that record – if anybody knows more, let me know. on the other hand i am also fine with leaving this record standing rather solitary in the musical universe. it deserves it.

so you should have with this post a little introduction to the special sonic universe of the wordsound label. now head over to their website – there is a lot more to discover, and yes, they also sell music online (since finding their cd’s and vinyl’s might prove difficult, unfortunately).

et hop! impending doom is no reason not to have relaxed beats

December 16, 2007

obviously the impending apocalypse is no reason to get all excited – it seems that there is enough time to do at least another blunt…

the obsession with doom and the apocalypse does usually not make for good books, and rarely for good movies – but it does seem it is a sure sign for interesting music. my personal theory concerning this has to do with the blunt: if we believe the old & wise rastas, weed makes you very receptive for these kind of ideas – and weed seems to help make good music, too. hm, i will have to think about this theory a little bit more and get the opinions of some experts, too…

so i do not know if mood are into weed or not – but they sure made a stunning album, doom.

mood.jpg

an album that has been played by me over and over again – an album i rarely tire of – and which still sounds fresh and relevant – and still is, i think. relaxed, smooth – but also eery. the apocalypse rarely sounded that friendly… but be not fooled: the apocalypse is pending, nevertheless.

so if you dare, here the album doom by mood. ripped from vinyl@224. and now relax and accept the inevitable…

et hop! everyone has a secret…

December 15, 2007

…mine is the fire when the city sleeps.

frontsmall1.jpeg

slowly we move into somewhat darker territory – but i wanted to start completly different:

yeah, there is jazzy hip hop. usually that means a lot of jazz samples and a kind of earthy and/or nostalgic feel. oh, and miles davis made a hip hop record (although it has been finished after he passed away).

and then there is mc 900 ft jesus. i always thought he must have an education as jazz musician – although i can not really pinpoint down why – something to do with his, eerr, music sensibility, i guess (and with the music, of course). all while inventing somehow his own world – a strange world, sure. especially in hip hop i am attracted to these artists which create through their music and/or lyrics their own unique world – and mc 900 ft jesus certainly does this. he made three records which are all somewhat different – but all three of them are strange in a fascinating way (well, the first one is somewhat less interesting). music with a slightly eery feel and rather mad lyrics – yes, exactly my cup of tea. so as an introduction to his world here the cd-single to his great song the city sleeps. you get the radio edit, the vocal remix, the clarinet remix, and an instrumental version. ripped as mp3’s @224. get it here.

what he does now i do not know – there have been rumours on the net that he might become activ as mc 900 ft jesus again – but proof is still outstanding. if anybody knows more – drop me a line.

and now: welcome to his dream!

BONUS: yes, welcome. welcome to my dream that album is actually called. get it here. enjoy!

UPDATE: just goes to show that i should do better research… sigh. for everybody too lazy looking at the comments: krab klaw kock (aaahhh, that alias is really making me think in interesting directions) informs us that all his albums are up on http://puppystrangler.blogspot.com/search/label/Mc%20900%20ft%20Jesus.

thank you! and i very much recommend one step ahead of the spider – i do find that album somewhat more psychedelic and trippy – and yes, one of the most, hm, remarkable? daring? cool? opener for a record…