Bmore Gutter Music

Say hello to Aaron Lacrate, a guy who's making moves in the world of hip hop. He's pushing Bmore gutter music quite hard and it's taken off - largely thanks to Spank Rock and their Yoyoyoyo LP.

Hipster DJs such as Diplo, are joining the dots between baile funk, Bmore gutter music, grime and beyond. it's exciting times if you like your music, raw, real and underground. There seems to be some sort of unofficial global ghetto music network, and it's far more fun, underground and authentic than 95% of mainstream hip pop.

What's interesting is how we - the UK - are so quick to embrace, accept and ULTIMATELY BUY any regional rap from America - whether crunk, hyphy, chopped and screwed, and now Bmore Gutter music, but Britain's hip hop buying public seems to ignore grime! It's weird and I don't get it. To me grime is a regionalised interpretation of American hip hop, the same as crunk, hyphy etc... Do we need to be told by America that grime - or our homegrown urban music - is good and it's ok to buy? Well that seems to be the marketing trick that's been used to break MIA, Lady Sovereign and quite possibly Sway to mainstram market when his shizzle with Ludacris, comes correct.

Here's an interview with Aaron Lacrate that appears in London Metro, February 22nd 2007.


Aaron Lacrate

In recent years regional American rap such as crunk (Atlanta), chopped and screwed (Houston) and hyphy (San Francisco’s Bay Area), have staked a claim for a piece of the hip hop pie. The next strain of localised US rap that wants a place at the dining table is Bmore gutter music, from Baltimore.

Spank Rock’s acclaimed debut LP, Yoyoyoyo gave us a taste of Bmore gutter music last year - think 120bpm electro-breakbeat topped with agile, speedy rap and chanting - but it’s the tip of proverbial iceberg. You can experience Bmore gutter music’s primal intensity on Saturday at electro/hip hop/rock’n’roll night, Chalk, where Baltimore native, Aaron Lacrate is DJing. Lacrate is joined by ghetto-electro DJ duo Radioclit, and live performances from Brazilian funk crew Bonde Do Role and Detroit Grand Pubahs’ cheeky electro, booty bass and rap.

Bmore gutter music evolved from ‘Baltimore club music’, but it’s surprise to find out that in turn this drew inspiration from embryonic British rave and hardcore breakbeat. ‘Baltimore club music started with hip house records in the early-1990s - it would mix up Miami bass, the 2 Live Crew, then take a Michael Jackson break and loop it,' explains Lacrate. ‘It was mixing dance records in a hip hop style and running the hardest breaks from records by Shut Up And Dance and The Ragga Twins: it took all this hard breakbeat hip hop, dissected it and added loops and breaks.'

‘These British rave records was what was being played in Baltimore's ghetto street clubs when the city was a horrible place with the highest murder rate in America and high levels of heroin addiction and AIDs infection.’

Baltimore club music traditionalists resent Lacrate evolving the sound, and taking Bmore gutter music to the wider world. However it's a measure of Lacrate’s influence that he's DJ on Lily Allen’s current US tour, added the Bmore gutter vibe to Busta Rhymes’ Touch It last year, and with Mark Ronson and Diplo is one of the hippest, most forward-thinking hip hop DJs around.

In spirit, it seems Bmore gutter music fits into a brave, new world of raw, thrilling rap music, alongside crunk, hyphy, UK grime and Brazilian baile funk. Why have these sounds emerged almost simultaneously?

‘The catalyst has been the excessive commercialisation of hip-hop - it’s now such big business,’ says Lacrate. ‘Hip-hop used to have that underground club energy - the clock is ticking on how much it can be sustained as it’s cashing in on the cache of what hip hop was.’

'Hip hop now is made for ringtones, it's on TV, how can it be raw crazy club music when it's everywhere, on your iPOD, MTV and TV commercials?’ explains Lacrate. ‘That’s why rave’s coming back because there's no crazy underground club sounds - it's bringing back that crazy hard dance music.’

Sat, Chalk, Scala, Pentonville Road N1, 10pm to 5am, £8.50. Tel: 0870 060 0100. www.chalkclub.co.uk Tube: King's Cross


Lips to 2 Da Floor

This is pure jokes. But why? In essence it is funny clips set to/synchronized with a grime track. Is its appeal similar to that of the Taz & Beefy (see post Too Funny) d&b video? In that in our heads, drum & bass/jungle is like grime and is a very SERIOUS and TOUGH, form of street music. Which we don't really associate with laughing, jokes and especially not taking the piss out of itself. So when we see silliness set to these sorts of sounds it's a guaranteed laugh! Or maybe I'm - as ever - over analyzing, and it's as simple as slapstick humour for the myspace/youtube generation. I'm sure Tony Hancock would approve. As would Coldcut for the innate understanding of A-V (synchronizinng images with music or VJing) dynamics.

Hat tip to grime soldier, Ross for the heads up on this


The view from the other side

I had an interesting experience today: seeing how the media works - and TV in particular - from the other end.

A bit of background first. I'm a print journalist of ten years experience, and over that time I have interviewed 100s of people, for stories. I also mentor at LIVE magazine, a project in south london that engages young people aged 13-21 and gets them involved with writing/designing/photography, and gives them social/work/office skills to take into the big bad world.

Anyway, UNICEF have released a report saying kids in the UK have the worst experience of any kids in the western world - our yout dem are top of the league when it comes to drinking, smoking, having sex and bullying, apparently. Even though this report covers a period ending in 1999. So I get into work at 945am, today, and get told a certain world renowned terrestrial TV News organisation will be coming to interview the young people at LIVE regarding this report at 11am. So they did, and broadcast that on the 1'0 Clock news.

Then they decide they want a round table discussion and young people to interview their peers on the report for the 6 o clock news. Except they don't really want the young people to give their real views, but salacious 'personal stories' on sex, drinking. drugs and the like. And of course all young people hang around skate parks, so off we traipse to Stockwell skate park to get some edgy, reality youth shots. Hmmm.

Put it this way it was very interesting to see the media - or TV - turn up with a premeditated angle/view, and extract that from their chosen subjects regardless of what the subjects really feel on the mattter. And then bugger off again. Job done. got what we need. who cares about the young people and their opinions really?

So we spent six hours for about 180 seconds of TV, and interviewed 8-10 people (I wager no more than 3 of the interviews will be used) that does not credit LIVE in any way, and wasted a whole day of magazine work/production. I can totally understand, it's great PR for LIVE. But it's the way that TV uses and abuses that sticks in the throat. Funnily enough the soundman heard my mutterings and was in complete agreement. I do hope, that I'm not so cold, manipulative and pre-meditated when it comes to interviews.

Another aspect of this that got me thinking is: how come it's taken a UNICEF report that is eight years old to focus media attention onto young people's experiences in the UK??? Radio 5, ITV and ALL Of the papers have been all over this today.

Yet young people being shot left, right and centre in Peckham and Brixton McDonalds, there stabbings all over the UK, not to mention gun crime amongst teenagers in Nottingham and Manchester that has been endemic for YEARS, or a recent IPPR report on how young people aren't engaging with older people and learning from them: yet none of these situations provides a valid reason to look at what is going on with young people in the UK today.


too funny

God knows how old this is, but it still makes me laugh

drum & bass needs more jokes like this

winter's arrived

better late than never hey? it looked like we were heading for a two season, year. summer and then just a warm, blustery, rainy other season. at last winter has arrived. even though London's more like the north now, say like Newcastle, with a biting winter arriving in February. the only trouble with snow in London is it takes a matter of minutes before it turns to grey, icey sludge thanks to commuters. I'm lucky enough to have a park behind my flat so can see scenes like this all day (until it melts) and pretend I'm in magical winter wonderland. all the pic needs is santa and his reindeer.



There's a debate going on over at Pickled Politics (www.pickledpolitics.com) around the press coverage of the birmingham, beheading plot arrests over the weekend. the gist of it is, that the press coverage is prejudicial and will affect the court case. basically as pointed out by Peter Wilby in yesterday's MediaGuardian, it is illegal.

Sunny @ Pickled Politics also raises the point that the arrest of two BNP members found with masses of explosive chemicals in October 2006 was not reported on in any detail for fear of prejudicing the trial outcome. Yet our fourth estate (aka the press), with the responsibility of impartiality, has gone all out on reporting unsubstantiated information and splashing it all over the front pages, when there are muslims involved.

What's even more disturbing is that the Home Office apparently briefed journalists. which, if true, makes this state sponsored propaganda and a media witch hunt agains muslims - and ethnic minorities - in the UK. So much for our faith in the 'rule of law' - you know innoncent until proven guilty - as an advanced, civilised society.

The impact of this in reinforcing a climate of fear and demonising all muslims as Al-Qaeda sympathisers and operatives, is impossible to measure. It's a disgrace, and makes me ashamed to be British. Will we hear about this in our papers? Probably, but only because a storm is brewing with human rights groups such as Liberty and proper journalists such as Peter Wilby, highlighting this situation


Tonight's The Night

London clubland is back in effect. After a minor lull in January, London's nightcrawlers and promoters are rested and rearing to go. It's always the way: there are two great nights tonight (Saturday), which to do full justice to, would require being split in two: first up is Ninja Tune's new night, You Don't Know at Big Chill House. This is exciting for me because I have a huge amount of respect for Ninja Tune as a label - independent, underground and essential - and also because a close friend Raj Pannu is headlining the bill.

Raj is a HUGELY talented DJ and all round music agitator, capable of coming up with thought provoking, entertaining A-V performances, scratching up hip hop and sesame street records like QBert or rocking a four hour deep house/techno set. i don't say this lightly, as someone who has been obsessed by DJing and clubs, since the late 1980s, but Raj is THE most talented DJ I have ever seen. And to top it all he is one of the most humble, decent people you are likely to meet.

Meanwhile, the ICA hosts Dirty Canvas, London's only grime-supporting night, tonight. As I discussed with BIG BWOY producer, Terror Danjah any emerging sound and underground music needs a club to ferment ideas and disseminate the gospel of the music. grime doesn't have this, bar Dirty Canvas, and is struggling as a result. In short the Met Police, venues and club promoters need to understand this is not GUNMAN music, and stop equating race with crime. Eight years after the MacPherson Inquiry into Stephen Lawrence's tragic death, the Met Police seem to me to be as institutionally racist, as ever.

Anyways, that's enough ranting from me

Here's an interview with Terror Danjah (Aftershock), that appeared in Metro (London), last Thursday


Dirty Canvas

You could be forgiven for thinking grime the distinctive, bristling strain of homegrown hip-hop that emerged from East London in the early noughties, has disappeared into thin air: club nights playing grime are scarce, major labels appear to be avoiding it, and the press seems to have forgotten that a couple of years ago they were declaring it as British music's ‘next big thing’.

However, grime hasn't vanished, it's simply returned to its underground roots and is developing, as a key component of a wider urban music movement and talent conveyor belt that has already delivered artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Kano, Sadie Ama and Sway.

And Saturday’s Dirty Canvas provides a great opportunity to see the next wave of up and coming talent as it hosts a showcase from the record label most synonymous with grime, Aftershock.

‘Aftershock's been running since 2003 and we showcase artists from the urban scene: at first we were associated with grime but we have branched out into dancehall, UK garage and R'n'B,’ explains 27-year-old Terror Danjah, the label's co-founder and leading producer. ‘We put out one of Sadie Ama's first singles with Kano, So Sure in 2005 and it crossed into all avenues – it was played by DJs like Ronnie Herel and Trevor Nelson, who wouldn't usually play my records, and got her where she is now.’

‘That's why I believe our label can push this music to the mainstream and make people understand it, because we're not just coming out with the grimey sound but diverse artists that appeal to most people,’ continues Danjah. ‘I want to produce R'n'B, dancehall and even indie and rock, and cross it over to the kids who understand our music.’

And the next step towards achieving this goal is the release of Aftershock's compilation album, Shock To The System (March 19), featuring Bruza, Gemma Fox and Tinnie Tempah; friends such as Kano, Wiley, Sadie and Shola Ama, the Ragga Twins, Gappy Ranks and D Double E. It reflects Aftershock isn’t just about grime and takes in funky house, drum’n’bass and UK flavoured R’n’B, aka R'n'G (Rhythm’n’Grime).

The entire Aftershock camp, including Bruza, Gemma Fox and Terror Danjah will be providing a sneak preview at Dirty Canvas, alongside the label’s rising stars Tinnie Tempah and Mz Bratt. Many of Aftershock’s illustrious friends, such as Sadie and Shola Ama, Wiley and Sway are expected to appear also.

Danjah, who’s produced for Kano, Sway and Roll Deep, is committed to helping the movement grow and evolve. ‘I will never turn my back on the scene - we need to broaden it to show it's not just kids behind the PCs and PlayStations, and show there's creativity in it,' he states. ‘I'm trying to push Aftershock to be the next 679 Recordings or XL, an independent with a little bit of power.’


Sat, Dirty Canvas, ICA, The Mall SW1, 9pm to 2am, £7.50. Tel: 020 7930 3647. www.ica.org.uk Tube: Charing Cross


Outlandish @ Scala, January 31st

Outlandish are a three man hip hop crew, from Denmark, where they are huge and regularly win MTV Europe Awards and the Danish equivalent of the Brits, not mention reaching No.1 in Germany. Their forthcoming third LP, Closer Than Veins is getting a big push from their label, SonyBMG, in the UK.

Judging by last night's totally rammed gig they will be very successful: bear in mind Outlandish have had no promotion or marketing in the UK, bar some big ups from Bobby & Nihal on Radio 1, Asian Network and a gig at Nihal's Bombay Bronx clubnight.

Yet there were queues from 2pm in the afternoon. And much of the audience - admittedly young - reaction was verging on hysterical. I'll be honest, their sound is a bit too light(think Black Eyed Peas), there's no grit or edge, but what I do find interesting is their voice and perspective.

Although Outlandish are Danish, they have roots in Pakistan (Waqas), Morocco (Isam) and Honduras (Lenny - big up your Dilla tshirt, I want one!) and sing/rap in their mother tongues as well as Danish and English. (If I'm more into them because of their cultural background and etnicity, than their actual sound, does that make me RACIALIST??)

For me the highlight of the gig was the multicultural mix. Girls in hijabs (hair coverings) with MTV dance moves (not the really lewd kind) screaming 'I want to marry you' at the sight of the ultra smooth Isam. The knowledge of lyrics and songs was incredible too. Isam has a beautiful, singular voice, no wonder he melts the heart of any girl he gazes at. Waqas rapping in Hindi/Urdu, before launching into hip hop panto, 'wave your hands in the air' was another highlight thanks to the incongruity of hindi/urdu hip hop. But why should it be surprising? I find myself asking.

There was a definite sense of young muslims, and asians latching onto Outlandish, because they provide a meaningful, positive voice, when muslims especially, are being demonised every day by our dear government and meeja. anyhow I'm off to beat myself up for being a racialist like, Jade Goody.

Big up to Indy @ Radio 1 for sorting the tickets.