Bass : Files # 5
One thing every urban music fan comes to appreciate is the highs and the lows.
We’ve all seen some of our favourite artists in questionable collaborations and side projects - Ice-T in ‘Tank Girl’ anyone? Then again, it’s always a joy to hear something good and gritty from an act that you might have written off or were sure wasn’t coming back, for whatever reason.
If ever there was proof that Jamie Foxx should stick to impersonating legendary blues artists it’s the heavily autotuned ‘Blame it on the Alcohol’, featuring T-Pain. All over the radio at the moment, this ode to pseudo-date rape is questionable on numerous levels - from insipid production to lyrical content. To discourage anyone from thinking that Bassfiles reserves scorn for US artists only, this month’s greatest heap is to be piled on a truly foul offering that has crawled from London’s sewers. DJ Ironik, (grime’s first crooner?) has dragged Chipmunk into the awful mess that is ‘Tiny Dancer’ (Asylum/Atlantic/Warner). Major label support once again seems to a poisoned chalice, facilitating one of the most ridiculous collabs in urban music history since Bone Thugs n Harmony locked horns with Phil Collins. Anyway, if you can’t guess who the guest star is on this tune, check the video here, unless you’re offended by semi-nude women. In which case, don’t watch it.
Showing that you can still be grime, but move off grime beats and collaborate effectively with artists from outside the scene is Lethal Bizzle, who apparently has an album out soon. The lead single ‘Go Hard’ features garage/funky vocalist Donaeo, who smashed it up with the massive ‘Party Hard’ late last year. ‘Go Hard’ is a tough bars-and-harmony combo over a stripped down ‘Funky Drummer’ loop and big raw bassline.
In terms of funky releases, Tadow’s ‘Hornz’ is looking likely to be given the full vinyl release treatment soon as the MP3 has just become available on ukfunky.com. Tadow is definitely a funky producer to watch, and this is typical of his understated style: a catchy but not in-your-face horn riff, solid percussion and rolling bass. A track to begin a night rather than end it, but very solid. No sign yet for a release date for ‘In the Morning’ by Fuzzy Logic ft. Egypt, which is a nice upbeat vocal number with a steppy electro bassline. It’s getting plenty of well deserved play, see for yourself:
Dancehall is continuing to defy its numerous different haters. First off the Jamaican government has recently banned all songs that refer explicitly to sex and violence from TV and radio. Bleeping out is not acceptable. So whilst there are restrictions on US material, it’s a major blow to the dancehall genre, which frankly does a very brisk trade in gun and punny lyrics.
It’s the latter theme that Movado takes up on his brand new cut ‘Neva Believe U’, on his producer / manager’s eponymous label ‘Daseca’. Movado’s naturally mournful voice sits beautifully over a beat that owes more to Miami than Kingston. Some people were writing off dancehall this time last year, but it never fails to maintain energy and innovate. Movado’s rival Aidonia is releasing ‘Grab Har Nuh’ on the soca-tinged Cobba Cobba riddim, a track built on stabbing percussion and the odd steel drum lick. It seems that soca is having a massive influence of late, not only is it an obvious component of funky, more and more dancehall artists have been jumping on the sound. Most surprising of all was Lil’ John (of crunk fame) producing a soca riddim of his own. Teaming up with scene legend Machel Montano and reggaeton/hip-hop star Pitbull, he released ‘Floor is on Fire’ in good time for Carnival.
The urban album to watch for this month is a particularly welcome release. Since the Newham Generals signed to Dizzee’s Dirty Stank label three years ago many wondered if ‘Generally Speaking’ was ever going to come out - now it’s here April 6. With Dizzee’s contacts and acumen, the label is promoting its artists with a slickness and gloss that’s rare enough in the grime scene, without compromising particularly on the grit. Leaked tracks off the album: ‘Violence’, ‘Bell dem Slags’, ‘Heads get Mangled’ and deftly mix purist grime sensibilities and wider musical influences, bound together by vicious humour, tough lyrics and guest spots from the likes of Dizzee and Jammer. It looks likely that this will have been worth the wait.
By Johnny Ilan