Beats Column – Dec’08/Jan’09
December 8, 2008 § Leave a comment
Published: Music Australia Guide, #61, December 2008/January 2009.
BEATS with Dan Rule
Futuristically Speaking…Never Be Afraid
Floridian all-girl booty-rap come ghetto-funk duo Yo Majesty are a phenomenon. Openly gay, religious and outwardly brazen, Jwl B and her express-rapping partner Shunda K have become signpost artists in hip hop’s cross-gender metamorphous; explosive, boobs-out live sets and all. On Futuristically Speaking, the duo spit verse over a rippling underlay of 80s era, electro-rap beats, musing on any manner of politico-sexual themes. But while their calling cards are abrasion and bounce, their strongest moments on this kinetic, albeit inconsistent set are when they slow things down. The guitar-licked downbeat introspection of Buy Love is a genuinely affecting moment.
Buraka Som Sistema
One of the great by-products of the MySpace era is cultural permeation. In what other era could you imagine a Portuguese-Angolan crew from the slummy outer suburbs of Lisbon being signed to taste-making dance label? Buraka Som Sistema are that crew and they’ve brought the propulsive sound of Angolan kuduro to the world on exhilarating debut Black Diamond. Raw, rugged and utterly energetic, Buraka’s kuduro aesthetic resembles a visceral, grime-laden step-up from funk carioca: tumbling percussive patterns bounce off stinging electro beats and hollered vocals (including those of MIA). This is a breathtaking introduction to yet another new world.
Scott Burns isn’t afraid to bring the funk on his long-awaited debut. From the bass-led bounce of opener Safety, Day 1 finds its orientation flow rather than fastidiousness. The accomplished Sydney MC is at his best when he keeps it simple – smooth, fast and loose. The Regal-produced The Frequency is one of the catchier party joints you’ll hear, while the urgent brass stabs of Still Time, contemplative Lottery Ticket and snaking psyche-funk of the Chasm-produced Neighbourhoods make for highlights. Burns tends to get weighed down by stilted beats in parts, but on the whole, Day 1 proves a debut worth waiting for.
(Look Up/Creative Vibes)
If you’re looking to convince someone of Australian hip hop’s growing maturity, you probably shouldn’t appoint Funkoars as your chief example. Adelaide’s kings of debauchery just don’t do lyrically progressive rap. Their third album’s huge, rock and soul-smashed sound underscores a fairly limited thematic directive. Think drunkenness, touring, strippers, insolvency and what seems to be some kind of appendage worship on The Phallic Menace. But with or without the subject matter, the Oars’ beats and production kick it like few others. No doubt, The Hangover will get the party pumping, it just might not be the kind of party you want to attend.
Karl Hector & The Malcouns
Los Angeles label Now-Again has once again opened its treasure trove of rare and raw funk gems with this stunning release. Hailing from German and Southern Saharan pedigree, Karl Hector & The Malcouns take us on an uncanny trip through Afro-flecked rhythms, free jazz, heavy psyche-funk and buzzing synth-scored krautrock. The results are thrilling. Over 19 purely analogue cuts, Sahara Swing warps, stretches and blends funk into an entirely new and happily unhinged language. This is an ensemble with a foot in the past and an eye for the future. They’ve created something classic but in no way retrospective. No mean feat.
BEATS DISPATCH: Halls of fame
Only a few months since Soul Jazz Records released their comprehensive dubstep chronicle Steppa’s Delight: Dubstep Present to Future, the London label have released this brilliant twin-CD retrospective Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture. Released as an accompaniment to a new book of photographs by Beth Lesser, the compilation features a veritable master-class of dancehall greats. Everyone from Yellow Man (with Bam Bam), Eek-a-Mouse (Wa Do Dem), Tenor Saw (Pumpkin Belly) and General Echo (Arleen, Track Shoes) bless these disc. Beyond mere nostalgia, this collection makes for a fascinating historical insight into an often forgotten cultural idiom.