Just after Black Friday, AKA Brawlmart, and having personally stepped up my wardrobe game by purchasing some new garments on the Mixpak website, word comes out of a new dancehall riddim - Gypsy.It’s been more than half a year since I wrote about anything and this beat really got me thinking.
From the moment I heard the ‘Moombashton Mix' of 'Oh Na Na' back in 2011, I knew Serocee was a badman MC. Same goes for the producer, Famous Eno.
If you listen to the instrumental version of Gypsy, you’ll see how tastefully sparse it is. First thing that hits you is the string line. Solid! Classicool. It’s a hybrid of tones and pitches; cello and violin (maybe even a viola). Eno has provided just the right amount of space for that subby bass to squeeze through. So many dancehall tunes these days are stuffed full of shitty, cheap sounding synths. That’s what the pre-Millennium old-school riddims did so well; there was space for all the musical components to breath. None of this hot air.
In this case, the drumline itself also happens to be simple, but undoubtedly bashy, reinforced by those offbeat stock ‘hey!’ samples. Plenty of gun cocking sound too. Murda. Check it:
I’m only going to include one vocal cut from the EP; ‘Topatop’. So clever, and it stands out a million miles from any of the others, simply because it has an ingenious narrative:
From the outset, Serocee has a voicemail-style message for the producer; “Before you record this tune, I gota tell you about the other night..”. The verse then becomes the very illustration of his prowess in the clash. All the other tracks just go for the standard ‘me a badman’ / ‘from the first time me smoke the highgrade’ bla bla bla / ‘everyting a murda in the dancehall’ when I step in, but ‘Topatop’ actively acknowledges the very music it is floating above, then steps on the gas with instant effect. I’m going to sound really pretentious saying this, but it does have a Shakesperian feel to it; a tune within a tune, so to speak. Very smart!
Interestingly, Eno’s previous hit alongside DJ Murlo was called ‘Ariel’, a magical spirit in ‘The Tempest' (note the clouds). No introduction necessary:
Literary devices aside, Famous Eno has a knack for building or editing modern dancehall. His remix of ‘The Thing’ by Atumpan was brilliant. Naturally, he had his mate Serocee doing the revoice:
As I’ve said time and again, Mixpak are a top label, bringing together Jamaican and UK/US singers, beat makers and DJ’s and forming what is, and should be, at the heart of reggae - a positive network. This is just one example - flick through their back-catalogue for many, many more bangers!
:: Gypsy Riddim is out December 10th on digital ::
Can’t wait for the next instalment, and look forward to sporting my new threadzz!
I was looking through my favourite artists on Soundcloud and thought I’d share this dilemma. Since there’s so many amazing exclusive tunes out there, I’ll limit myself to a nice round number.
1. First off, it’s gotta be Pearson Sound’s refix of Da Style Deh. Ever since I (and I’m sure I’m speaking for many other thousands of fans) heard this on the Maida Vale sessions back in 2011, my mind was blown by this utter banger. Busy Signal’s original is a hit and fully available, so at least we still have that. The link for the complete London set is down, so doing my best to get that re-up. In the meantime, remind yourself with this:
2. DJ Naughty aka N Fostell samples dancehall hero Super Cat in the addictive track ‘Don Dadda’. I asked the guy when he reckons this will be out and he said he was “in talks of it being the next release”, so that’s promising:
3. Fis-T - We Found Love (Rihanna) - Whether its the overwhelming copyright issues surrounding this remix that’s holding the Londoner back, or he’s just plain teasing us (which is perfectly understandable), all we have to go by thus far are the oddexcerptsfromOnemanmixes. To make things a little more complicated, it already has a nickname “Rhi Rhi”. Hopefully someone like 502 Recordingsis going to get this one cleared!
4. El-B Ft Juiceman - Buck & Bury (Caski Remix) - this is a weird one as the original itself is one of those tunes that’s pretty much unbeatable in all departments - originality, production, energy and relative earliness in the scene (2002).Above: The first pressing (GHOST004) of ‘Buck & Bury’, before it ended up on the Ammunition/Blackdown ‘Roots of Dubstep’ 2006 sampler
Regardless of all this, Bedford-based Caski’s work is a fresh interpretation getting a lot of play. It also has the advantage that it’s within the (ever-expanding) 130-realm:
5. Murlo and Dubbel Dutch are good lads, often handing out free downloads, but I’d love to get my hands on ‘Icebound’. This one has that dancehall tempo combined with a deeper soulful, reflective vibe:
6. I think we’ve all been desperately digging for an ID on Jamie XX’s opening track b2b with Caribou on Boiler Room (for over a year now). I keep checking the comments on YouTube every month, but to no avail. One comment, despite being a bit silly, has stuck in my head:
"It sounds like a Peruvian rave thrown in the Andes Mountains by a group of magic elves”.
True! The woodwind is cheeky!
This is also quite amusing:
Ahhh…internet in-jokes :)
PS - due to licensing, they won’t let me embed the damn video. So click here to listen!
7. Any of Champion’s early funky tunes (pre-Butterz), vocal or instrumental, just any!! Check them out here on the Champion Sound Vol. 2 mix:
Oops - this Mediafire link has also been removed - hoping I can get that one back up!
Above: Champion pon deck
And also, a nice copy (wav, possibly original master copy?) of that Original Nuttah (Shy FX / UK Apache) bootleg somehow finding its way onto the web, would be sweet!
Incidentally, most online reviews (Boomkat are especially guilty of this), chat a lot of pretentious bollocks, stringing nonsensical big words together, but XLR8R hit the nail on the head when they summed up Champion’s unique sound:
“His tracks melt down the best parts of grime, bassline, UK funky, and drum & bass, remolding them into golden morsels of 4/4 house rich with a million nuances of low-end-frequency flavor..he has already figured out the formula for making the whole dancefloor skank out—a minimal graft of tropical drum hits cavorting over inventive levels of bass and subs”
8. Technically, I shouldn’t really mention producers Brunks or Chubba on such a list, because two of their hottest tracks are guaranteed releases (‘Taiko’ and ‘Kode 6’ respectively). Both are on pre-order, vinyl-only limited pressings, I just wish the labels would hurry up and ship them out!
Above: Putting a face to a name - this is Brunks
Brunks, from Manchester, reminds me of Beneath; just a little ‘looser’ with the drum palette & vibe, added syncopation and less darkness, more…tropical-sounding? See what you think:
As for the Chubba, it’s got an old-school thing about it, 808’s flying about the place, but with up-to-date badass heavy powered bass production. Serious drop!
9. A little off-topic, but the day that David Rodigan’s dubs and revoices somehow find themselves online (sorry Sir, but it’s a compliment if anything), will be a time of celebration and rejoicing. This, of course, will never happen, but one can only hope. I’m surprised his son, Jamie, hasn’t started ripping the collection! If that were me, I’d be all over his record bags!
10. While I’m on a reggae-tip, really hoping Busy Signal’s ‘Artiste' gets out swiftly, just as he did from jail! It seems to stand out from the majority of music beamed out from JA and is an angry tune, questioning the integrity and flaws of the current dancehall scene:
“Even painter a artiste
The plumber dem a artiste
Electrician a artiste
All di man wa a wash mi van waan turn artiste”
Most definitely a breath of fresh air from the likes of Kartel, Mavado and Aidonia. Surely the fact that this has an official video must be an indication of future distribution…
Wrapping things up; as a selector, like a mouse desperately foraging for the newest, ripest material, it’s easy to neglect the notion of keeping some things mystical, pure and untouched - that certain gems may never ever be uncovered. After all, that’s what makes them so special, right?
Some food for thought…
* With all due respect to the producers, of course.