THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS HAVE SEEN PRODUCERS ROUND THE WORLD BLURRING THE LINES BETWEEN HIP HOP, JAZZ, HOUSE AND BEATS (WHATEVER THAT MEANS) AND FLINGING OUT JOYOUS, MIND-BENDING NEW MUSIC LIKE GODS CHUCKING STARS ACROSS THE SKY. THIS COLUMN TRAWLS THE INTERNET TO TRY AND MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL. HERE IS THE LATEST NEWS FROM NEPTUNE.
Quincy Vidal – Chi’ren
With the dominance of the ATL over hip hop in the last couple of years, it’s tempting to make silly sweeping statements like ‘New York has fallen off’. This ain’t the case; just cos Atlanta produces bangers by the pound doesn’t mean that the Big Apple has undergone some weird talent drain- it just means that the media (hands up; I’m as guilty as anyone) has got all excited over a shiny new toy. I’d say at any given point in the last 30 years there’s never been a moment when NYC hasn’t been churning out amazing music 24/7. So I’m glad to be opening this latest column with some certified heat from Brooklyn. Quincy Vidal’s sound nods to the Daisy Age pioneers, your Tribes, De La’s and Digible Planets, but understands that innovation was as important a part of their sound as a well-chosen sample. In my eyes this elevates QV above the more slavish 90s revivalists – take a listen to their new (like really new- the video came out yesterday) single Chi’ren- no doubt it’s got the chimes and melody that could have placed it as a bonus track on Low End Theory, but this sweetness is satisfyingly spiked with wriggling sub bass and crushed, trappy snares. Added to this, they’re flogging their new EP with a tasty looking hoody, and giving a portion of profits to a New York foodbank. There’s nothing not to like here. PS, seeing as I've been mentioning Tribe, RIP Phife Dawg. What a loss :'(
MHD – Afro Trap pts 1-6
Arghtee, brains behind the prosaically titled Jersey Club label CLUBJERSEY, has put me onto a stupid amount of good music over the last year. This is made all the more disconcerting cos he looks about 12 years old and makes me feel like I’m somewhere close to 80. He chucked this track up on facebook a couple of weeks back and I lost all of my shit – there are UK Afrobeats artists who are talking about making AfroTrap, but generally their stuff only really differentiates itself from typical trap by the accents and language of the MCs. French guy MHD is levelling up- whoever is producing his beats is making a distinct attempt to fuse moody, sparse trap melodies with afrobeats inspired percussion, and on the latest instalment of the series, Afro Trap part 6 has hit gold. The fact this is already on 4 million views tells you all you need to know – MHD is gonna have a big 2016, and the first show he plays in London is gonna be insane. You’ve been warned.
Azealia Banks – Can’t Do It Like Me (Benga & Coki – Night freestyle)
Azealia Banks is controversial because we live in a time when 99% of pop stars are fucking useless smudges of media trained tedium. Personally, I love it when Azealia goes in on social media, but about a million other social media users act genuinely and wholeheartedly outraged. It’s baffling. I’ve seen people in the UK talking about her as though she’s come round their yard, reset their wifi passwords, finished the milk and shat in their Nikes. There are mad Tory bastards gleefully wrecking the country on a daily basis, and not a peep, but if Azealia dares to suggest the music industry is a bit racist, all hell breaks loose. I honestly don’t understand. Anyhow, Azealia has finally got back to doing what she’s good at, which is freestyling over sick beats. In this case she’s jumped on Benga & Coki’s all time classic Night, and done a great job. Just hearing it reminds me of how far ahead of the game Night was – it prefigured UK Funky, Afrobeats and pretty much everything that came after dubstep imploded and it still sounds like a jittering energy bomb. Benga’s taken to twitter to say how much he loves Azealia’s take, neatly silencing the purists in under 140 characters. You can grab it for free by hunting out the new Slay-Z mixtape.
Namibia baby. Right now I’m all about NamTunes. After hearing DJ Edu play a track called Digub by Dixon on this week’s Destination Africa show I found myself trawling around to get a copy of the track. I was 100% that it was gonna be from SA or Ghana, and I was 100% wrong – turns out that Dixon is based in Namibia, and his brand of stripped-to-the-bone percussive kwaito is no fluke – there’s a fair few bangers coming out of South Africa’s less populous neighbour. Apologies to any Namibians who happen to read this and think I’m far too late to the party – all the stuff I could find that I was really feeling appears to have come out in 2014 – I want to know what’s going on now, but I’m currently very much at the tip of the iceberg stage. Anyway I’m gonna recommend downloading some tracks from Nama Namibian Annual Music Awards 2014 (The Compilation Album) – it’s on Amazon with the tracks going for like 80p each. It’s a mixed bag, and I’m sticking to the harsher uptempo stuff – there’s about 4 tracks built from chanting, hip hop inflected vocals and proper clacking percussion. I’m not enough of an aficionado to be able to point where the sound differs from SA Kwaito, but I can say they make rough, percussive club jams. Here are some of the cuts on there, these are going to be getting a lot of play from me in coming months:
Dixon – Digub