Decade in Review : Beats0
Checking out, checking in...
It always seems a tad silly to try and condense history - music or otherwise - into neat building blocks that start at 10 and end with zero but doubtless our need to list, categorise, compare and contrast means it was probably ever thus.
Likewise, we are always going to lean more to the end of the decade than the start and while one always thinks they live through interesting/turbulent times the changes in consumption of music over the last 10 years are surely the most radical since the invention of the phonograph. Moving from physical to digital; from active consumption via a purchase to a more passive participation by the sheer omnipresence of music - it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed!
Genres have started to mean less and morph more - why would a DJ stay on one beat for the night?
Inboxes that bulge daily with mixes, podcasts, mp3s and mailouts; and the transition from gradual (mid-decade) to rapid (the present) digitisation of the last 25 to 30 years of music means our memory and capacity to reference the past has increased rapidly. Once the preserve of the collector/archivist, a library of music is freely available for all – nostalgia and classics now belong to everyone rather than just those who witnessed it first time around. Genres have started to mean less and morph more - why would a DJ stay on one beat for the night? Those iPods have got us all used to jutting frequencies and tempos.
Hip-hop fast veers towards irrelevance partly through lack of effort (it’s always been about the hustle and if there’s not much to hustle for, why bother?) but also through over-familiarity. It’s ‘old’ music now – moving into its fourth decade, and looking rather flabby and out of sorts. Regional music, usually based around a silly dance and a drug of choice (crunk/hyphy/jerk) are of interest mostly to hipsters and bloggers running out of ideas fairly quickly.
Hip-hop seems to be reaching its “disco moment” of over-saturation
Indie rap fell off some time ago – it is almost wholly self referential. The major label stuff – think Kanye West, Jay Z – is, for me at any rate, almost impossible to listen to. Hip-hop was always about escapism and while we don’t necessarily need shared experience to enjoy it (40-year-old multi millionaires who babble on about their business acumen, count Bono amongst their best mates and probably haven’t unearthed any new music to listen to in years) we could be talking about any number of 60s/70s rock dinosaurs.
Hip-hop seems to be reaching its “disco moment” of over-saturation. Hopefully some exciting newness will come via the crashing of all these new beat styles. When that happens can someone twitter me?
Jaylib ‘Champion Sound’ [Stones Throw]
Epic 2003 collab from Jay Dee and Madlib. It’s fashionable to dismiss backpack rap as inferior to regional hood rap but this is as sonically inventive as anything from New Orleans.
J Dilla ‘Donuts’ [Stones Throw]
2006 instrumental opus from Dilla, who ends the LP with a flip of Motherlode’s ‘When I Die’. This beautiful record is so amazingly well structured. Thirty-one tracks - one for each year of his life.
Madvillan ‘Madvillany’ [Stones Throw]
MF Doom oozes hip hop quotables and Madlib – a year on from ‘Champion Sound’ and in between his two Quasimoto LPs - took the beats in some different directions.
The Clipse ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ [Star Trek]
’Peel money rolls ‘til our thumbs get the paper cuts’ - a short LP from 2006 of stunning proportions. Eleven tracks of drug talk with some dark Neptunes production which I don’t think they ever topped. Every hipster had to have one!
Hudson Mohawke ‘Butter’ [Warp]
The Glaswegian boy wonder bringing us nicely into the next decade..
Next : Olan gives us his five best tracks and more..
Baby ft.The Clipse ‘What Happened To That Boy?’ [Universal]
Brrrrrr... incredible Southern slang/trendo thug-ish from the Birdman with a monster Neptunes beat.
Flying Lotus ‘Parisian Goldfish’ [Warp]
A one-man beat machine in the Madlib mode, this was a highlight from the LP, with the smashing synths sitting heavier than his usual Cali ambience.
Rustie ‘Jagz the Smack’ [Stuff]
Squelchy Glasgae bizness with a nod to Jus Blaze.
Roots Manuva ‘One Hope (Witness)’ [Big Dada]
Last great UK hip hop 12” before the ever-inventive Brits got bored with it and it splintered into UKG, dubstep and on…
Joy Orbison ‘Hyph Mngo’ [Hot Flush]
UK funky/dubstep/future soul? Starting a new decade, the UK is setting the pace once again.
Next : Olan's Hero and Villain of the Decade
He started off the decade with Quasimoto and has been all over the place since then, from broken beat to jazz – he exists in his own sphere. Conclusive proof that a massive weed habit is no impediment to productivity – Stones Throw and the rest of us can’t keep up. Roll on Madvillan 2!
Louis Walsh and Ronan Keating
You’d have thought these fuckers would have disappeared by now! Absolutely horrific individuals. Louis is like the Irish Jonathan King with his sparring partner on some Cliff Richard ish. You could almost see them rubbing their hands with glee when the wee lad died. Next stop tour, LP etc…