When FM radio emerged in the late ‘60s as a format for “album-oriented” rock music, it was a new, open-ended land of opportunity. The music enthusiasts who were excited enough to want to broadcast their favorite new tunes using the not-yet-popular platform were about to blow open an entire generations’s doors of perception. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and so many others were creating ever-more challenging and experimental music that was presented to, and consumed by the Baby Boomer generation as pop culture. Those same tunes are still played over and over again on FM today as a broken-record-homage to that historic moment.
As the FM format grew and became more commercial during the ‘70s, the experimentation began to wane, and pop music became more homogenized. It wasn’t until the early ‘80s when a new format called music video was ushered in by MTV, that the flood gates of popular music were again opened. The Talking Heads, Run D.M.C. The Beastie Boys, The Cure, Guns & Roses, NIN, Nirvana; MTV was breaking new music in the ‘80s, and influencing FM’s “alternative” format. Then, just like had happened to FM, in the early ‘90s MTV became more commercial and more homogenized, and popular music again began to stagnate.
It was with the emergence of the most disruptive technology to date, the internet, that pop music was once again blown wide open. The musical gate-keepers of the past are were toppled. Now there are thousands, if not millions of taste-makers curating micro-scenes of pop across the world. Artists now become famous on platforms like YouTube, and Facebook.
HTTP // GOLD is a DJ mix of internet-age music that, in my head, is as popular as Pink Floyd or Madonna, only now popularity is less clear since the gate-keepers have so radically shifted and diversified. The other unifying factor is beauty. These are serotonin-inducing, chill-out tracks that could have easily made their home on an AM Gold compilation in a parallel space/time.
Digging back 20 years into the explosive jungle sound which pushed toward dubstep 10 years later, and eventually led to the global bass movement as we know it today, this mix weaves together some those stylistic threads routed in Jamaican, UK, and US dance music culture.
DJ C “Beats Researched” Tracklist:
Ori Shochat x Dango – “Rain”
Dennis Brown – “Rebel With a Cause (Bizzy B Remix)”
Zeds Dead – “Rude Boy”
DJ Krome & Mr. Time – “Ganja Man”
Estelle ft. Janelle Monae – “Do My Thing (JayCeeOh Remix 2.0)”
Conquering Lion – “Code Red”
Amazon II – “Booyaaa! (Open Your Mind)”
DJ Rap – “Intelligent Woman”
Sibot – “Magne Jam”
DJ Krome & Mr. Time – “Studio One Lick”
Ms. Dynamite – “Dy-Na-Mi-Tee (Instrumental)”
Remarc – “R.I.P.”
Si Begg – “Bangin”
DJ C – “Circe”
Prizna f. Demolition Man – “Fire (Urban Shakedown Remix)”
As another year draws to a close I recently had the privilege of DJing the OpenGovChicago holiday party with my brother in decks, John Tolva. In preparation for the gig I recorded this set of classic-futurist-dancehall-pop. Farewell 2013 and all the best in 2014:
Here’s a blend of genres containing already blended genres. From electronic dub, to a series of tracks that wobble back and forth between hip-hop, dancehall and jungle, to pop-undergroud mashups, this mix, featuring tracks by Wildlife, Disrupt, Goulet, Krinjah, Vinyl Blight and more, is all over the map. Just how I like it!
When I heard M.I.A. was performing at the Superbowl halftime show it was almost compelling enough to get me to tune in for that oh-so-overblown of American past-times. I didn’t, partly because I knew if there was anything interesting to see it’d be all over YouTube before you can say YouTube.
Sure enough, the most talked about aspect of the Super Bowl this year — besides Clint Eastwood’s ode to American sticktoitiveness — was M.I.A.’s middle finger. It doesn’t sound very interesting on the surface but if there’s one thing M.I.A.’s really good at, it’s being controversial, and with one tiny little gesture she was able to whirl media spin rooms into a frenzy.
Meanwhile, M.I.A.s new video for her track Bad Girls had already been generating some controversy of its own. Whether it’s for vapid lyrics, or stereotypical Arab imagery, not everyone gives the track or the video a +1. But I tend to agree with this assessment in AlbawabaIn Defence of MIA’s ‘Bad Girl’ Arab-Bashing. Here’s an excerpt:
Bad Girls is surely not something new in the pop-world with Madonna and many before singing vacuous lyrics on ‘material’ feisty or just ‘naughty’ girl types. If ‘bad girls’ on this occasion signifies gun-touting or even, in being strewn over, and in, cars, criminal, girls in a country that prohibits them from driving (while filmed in Morocco it is distinctly meant to represent Saudi Arabia), then the video presents a distinct challenge to the stereotype of Arab subjugated women.”
Anyway, I find it to be a compelling piece of pop with an underlying sense of rebellion that invokes the kind of discussion which brings me back to the heyday of Public Enemy. It’s beautifully crafted in a way that truly paints M.I.A. as a bad girl in the eyes of both the east and the west. What’s your take?
The drawback for me was that I couldn’t easily find an instrumental version of the bangin’ beat by Timbaland protege Danja, so I decided to make one through the magic of editing.
That’s right, folks. Experimental party music is coming to Chicago. Nearly 8 years after DJ Flack and I began Boston’s Beat Research, the franchise is sprouting a brand new limb.
On the first and third Wednesdays of the month I’ll be be throwing down genre-blends with Jesse Kriss, John Tolva and various special guests at Villain’s in Chicago’s South Loop.
The Boston branch has hosted some of the best and brightest DJs and producers of underground bass music in the world, given a number of young luminaries their first gigs, and presented an utterly motley collection of tech-addled live performances. The long list of guests includes DJ Rupture, Kingdom, Eclectic Method, Ghislain Poirier, Vex’d, edIT, and Scuba.
Beat Research has been hard to match for Bostonians seeking out innovative sounds. Now Chicagoans can look forward to their own bi-weekly session for discerning dancers and enthusiastic head-nodders.
When I first heard the TB303 “acid” bass line sound I was blown away by its alien feel. The wobbly portamento tones sliding into each other struck me as an audible illustration of the mailable, bouncy nature of rubber.
I also remember when I first heard Fatboy Slim’s Rockafeller Skank I thought the vocalist was saying “Right about now the funk’s so rubber” and while that was a great way to describe the bouncy guitars in the track, it was an even better way to describe the elastic acid-breaks tracks I had been getting into at the time. So I was disappointed when I figured out the vocalist was not sharing my enthusiasm for rubbery sounds but instead was conjuring “the funk soul brother.”
Those acid sounds which developed in the ’80s Chicago house movement, and continued to evolve throughout the ’90s worldwide, are still a major influence on bouncy tunes today. I’m always a sucker for a good tweaked out acid line and this mix encapsulates some of my favorite rubbery tracks throughout the ages:
A few years ago I was asked to do this remix of Suffocation Keep by The Slip. It was a fun challenge to make an electronic interpretation of their sweeping, melancholic, indie-rock tack, and I really liked the outcome, but alas, it was never released.
I added it on as the last track on my Umami album, but instead of selling it along with the rest of the album I decided to give it away as a free bonus track.