Friday, 3 May 2013

I want to hear some hip hop

I wouldn’t recognise the stars of the hip hop world these days – the status and credibility of the artist. I would only hear the sounds of their spittin’, the beats they be rhyming over and the samples peppering the track. I have no idea who’s cool and who isn’t – I have no idea.

There was a time when the hip hop beats were a constant thud in the inner brain y’all. When the latest beats were spun on the ones and twos. This is not the life I lead at the moment. It may be the fact that I have this young family – these innocent and creative minds and I am yet to fill it up with the magic of the gravediggas and NWA. That time might come – it might not. I can’t really say what they’ll listen to and I’m certain I won’t know how they’ll listen. You can’t tell ‘em what to like. It doesn’t work like that – I might have to leave a few Velvet Underground records lying around – but you certainly can’t tell them. It’s safe to say that my parents were not as excited by the latest Sha la la flexidisc from Remember Fun, than I was. I couldn’t see my Dad marvelling at the wonder of Phuture’s Acid Tracks as much as I may have done. We were family – but we had different tastes. It should be like that really – although I hope that my children dig The Beach Boys – you know right through their whole career – not just the hits, hits, hits.

I was talking with a class of mine about the music press – it already sounded antiquated and old in this world were the stars and the gagas tweet to audiences larger than Brazil – who needs a Paul Morley, Julie Burchill, Steve Sutherland or Alex Petridis to tell them what to like or think? You know Morrissey wouldn’t know where to send his letters anymore – saying that he’d probably have a tumbler account. All borrowed shots from the sixties, scraps of poetry from Yeats and few choice words about meat eaters. I might set it up actually. It may get more readers than this.

But it was good to have gatekeepers – you know – it was good that someone was doing some of the filtering – it’s fucking hard to find out anything these days. We’re drowning in sound – not waving. So this brings me back to my dilemma – this age thing maaaan. I have forgotten how to find new sounds and where once I had claimed on here that it was no nostalgia rides – it seems that the modern world may just have got the better of me.

I’m seeking out those old school beats. It’s by the far the simplest thing to do.

I like my hip hop with a touch of honesty and humour rather than misogyny and glamour. I can’t do sunglasses indoors, helicopters and furs, ‘I'm sick of bitches shakin' asses, I'm sick of talkin' about blunts,

Sick of Versace glasses,
Sick of slang,
Sick of half-ass awards shows,
Sick of name brand clothes.
Sick of R&B bitches over bullshit tracks,
Sick of swoll' head rappers
With their sicker-than raps
Clappers and gats

Makin' the whole sick world collapse’

But there was a student I taught back in the Midlands. Quiet. Piercing eyes but utterly enthralled to the underground. You could tell he was a music fan. You could sense it. He was soaking it all up and mixing it all together in his head. I can spot them a mile off – the ones who listen with prejudice. He felt the intensity of music and bands and sounds and styles. It has to be at that age – to catch a fire – to light the fuse. Otherwise you may as well keep on buying the NOW CDs and claiming you like a little dance now and again.

You could tell he’d get into a debate about whether Bulhoone Mindstate was by far a superior long player than Three Feet High and Rising. Which it is by the way – but we can talk about The Daisy Age another day.

Because taking sides – weighing up the odds - thinking about this and that – and hoping it has worth lends itself to critical thinking – acts of choice and not being part of the flock (of seagulls). He still thinks about sounds now – about layering this with that – scratching that needle back and forth, back forth –because out of that student emerged Beatmasta Bill. A Nottingham DJ of distinction – a warrior on the 1210s running the gamut of groove to provide a soundtrack for your waking hours. I’ve never heard him playing in a club – I should have really – but it wasn’t to be – see – I moved down here and these things happen – plus I was his teacher and you know hanging out with the kids – getting down in the street – well that just ain’t fly – I don’t need to tell you why.

But we are both older now and he still spins the records. I remember when he and his brother and another student tore into Bring tha Noise in a school hall. There was that sense of freshness and just trying things out – that’s what you get with Bill -a sense of freshness and trying things out. So it was a pleasure to hook back up with those sounds through fibre optic cables and late night searches. There is a sense of adventure and play in all of his mixes and remixes – a knowing nod to the source and a twist of the (odd) future. There's a wonderful hip hop scene in Nottingham - it gets called UK rap - but its different from city to city. It seems to turn up this eclectic approach to things. The Midlands is like that - it's far from water.  

So listen to the end. It changes – it prompts different reactions.It is good music. It is good music selected by Beatmasta Bill for you to listen to.