Music History: Dub

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One of my favorite things about music is the way that music evolves with time.  As time passes music genres influence each other, sometimes changing the genre into something completely different.  This is interesting to observe with dub music.

In order to understand dub history, we must understand some of socioeconomic aspects that impacted Jamaican society in the early 70s.  During this time period Jamaicans were not able to spend their money on records, they did not have the financial means to do so. Thus when record producers made records, they were taking their chances.  Thus they found a solution, play the records in dancehalls in order to observe the audience’s reception. This practice would open the doors for a new Jamaican genre, dub.

One of the dub pioneers was Rudolph Redwood. He would produce instrumental versions of tracks, and thus dancehall DJs would add their own singing or rhymes over the music.  This was given the name “toasting,” which would eventually give rise to dancehall music. Using these sorts of instrumental tracks in this manner was commonplace in the Jamaican music industry.  

The focus of dub were the instrumentals, not the singers.  Sound engineers would remove or rearrange instrumentals, they would never add.   These sound engineers are the ones who laid the groundwork so many genres that would follow.  If it were not for dub we would not have so many genres: jungle, house, garage, grime, and essentially any music driven by technology. Dub sound engineers were the first  to utilize sound boards as musical instruments.

This was just a brief synopsis of the history.  If you want to read more, be sure to check out the sources. Stay tuned for future posts about all different varieties of Jamaican music,  rocksteady, ska, and reggae and dub-a-dub.

This playlist will give you the dub essentials, from the master himself, King Tubby, to others like his apprentice, Scientist.  Sit back and relax and let this dub playlist lead you into summer.

Listen to the playlist here. 

  1. “Inna Mi Yard”- King Tubby
  2. “Root Man Party ” – Don Carlos
  3. “Your Teeth in My Neck” – Scientist
  4. “Overseas Posse” – Toya
  5. “Love and Unity” – Michael Prophet
  6. “Act of Affection” – Wailing Souls
  7. “A Who” – Michigan and Smiley
  8. “Seek King Ras Tafari” – Jah Melodie
  9. “Mount Zion Medley” – Morgan Heritage
  10. “Janet Sinclair”- Little John and Billy Boyo
  11. “Fattie Boom Boom” – Ranking Dread
  12. “Work On Mr. Farmer” – Edi Fitzroy

Sources:

Bush , John. “THE DREAD LIBRARY.” Debate Central – Since 1994, debate.uvm.edu/dreadlibrary/bush.htm
Gil

l, Pablo. “Reggae – Origins Of Dub.” UDiscoverMusic, 10 May 2018, http://www.udiscovermusic.com/in-depth-features/reggae-origins-of-dub/.

REVIEW “Letting Go” – Wild Nothing

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Genre: dreampop, shoegaze, post-punk revival

Jack Tatum’s stylistically driven work caught everyone’s attention in 2009 when he started his own music project under the name Wild Nothing.  In 2009 bands like The Pains of Being Pure At Heart were dominating the scene with the fuzzy shoegaze and sweet pop undercurrents.  Tatum came in with his own unique brand of this, but he made himself distinct in  the scene with his mellow glittery synths and buttery vocals.

The  new single “Letting Go,”  highlights the care Tatum has taken in crafting his unique brand of work influenced by the sounds of synth-pop, alternative dance, dance-rock, post-punk, and new wave–all frameworks spawned out of the 80s and early 90s.  Tatum acknowledges that the tradition and pays homage to these artists with his up beat melody driven track.

As melancholy lyrics describe a jilted lover dreaming of happiness, and attempting to overcome his despair of being betrayed by a lover.

I want to be happier now
I want to be more than closed
Surreal, the way you made me out
The way you crashed me down

Yet, “Letting Go,” isn’t the typical break up ballad.  The lyrics describe a monumental life changing heart break, but the upbeat guitar melodies emote an hope for happiness in the future.

It is a fine line artists tread, should they shy away from traditional frameworks for their genre? Some reject the groundworks for fear of being repetitive and cliche.  Instead Tatum embraces the aspects of what made legends like Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, New Order so unique and memorable.  These are the types of bands that are still part of the shoegaze/ dream pop consciousness, they are what defines tradition, and Tatum respects that.  Tatum acknowledges that tradition is important when crafting music that will remain relevant and venerated in the future.  He elaborates,

“I wanted it to sound like a classic studio record, as close as I could get it there. It just boils down to me wanting to fit into some larger narrative, musically, in terms of these artists I love… I think about how my music will age. Ideas of ‘timeless’ are going to be different—so if Indigo is not timeless then it’s at least ‘out of time.’”

I’m looking forward to listening the rest of the album and seeing where I can place Wild Nothing in the larger musical narrative.  It will be interesting to hear what Tatum’s interpretation of “timeless” entails.  We will have to wait for hazy August for the new album “Indigo” to be released. If “Letting Go, ” is any clue to what is to come, I’m hopeful that Wild Nothing will be a band I’m still listening to in 30 years.

Songs you might like:

  • “Allison” – Slowdive
  • “Pulling Our Weight” – The Radio Dept.
  • “Kaleidoscope” – Ringo Deathstarr
  • “Cherry-coloured Funk” – Cocteau Twins

Artists you might like: New Order, The Radio Dept. , Beach Fossils, Beach House, DIIV, Real Estate, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ringo Deathstarr

Sources:

Kenneally, Cerys. “Wild Nothing Returns with News of Fourth Album Indigo and Lead Single ‘Letting Go.’” The Line of Best Fit, 5 June 2018, www.thelineofbestfit.com/news/latest-news/wild-nothing-new-album-indigo-new-single-letting-go.

 

Seemingly Unknown Artist: Bad Business

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Genre: Yacht Rock

Don’t be fooled by the name “Bad Business,” listening to this funky new group is good news for you if you love Yacht Rock like me. The EP “Day Job Guys,” is a perfect execution of what Yacht Rock should be—rich melodies and sensual saxophones, a perfect amalgam of jazz, pop, and rock. Each track has a melodious funky beat with a sense of urgency, but with a smooth rhythmic pop. By far my favorite track was “Ride Along,” laden with nostalgia, it felt like I was listening to Steely Dan’s “Peg” for the first time.
Bad Business knows their music history, and they honor that legacy with their creativity and attention to detail. Bravo, Bad Business, Walter Becker would be proud.
Songs you might like:

Artists you might like: Ambrosia, Chicago, Hall & Oates , Robbie Dupree, Spandau Ballet

International Artists Spotlight: Spain

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I’ll be visiting in France in a few short weeks and its the closest I’ve ever been to the land of my ancestors, Spain.  That being said, I decided to start another spotlight segment, international artists. I love a lot of international music, this is just a taste.  Stay tuned for a bunch of international segments like this one!

On this playlist you’ll hear a array of genres and influences: synth pop, synth rock, post-punk revival, dream pop, folk pop (with emphasis on the pop) funk synth and more! Even if you don’t speak Spanish you’ll love these melody driven tracks.

Click here to find the playlist on Spotify.

  1. “Girls”- Lost Tapes
  2. “Tu Casa Nueva” – El Ultimo Vecino
  3. “El Extraño Viaje” – Murciano Total
  4. “Tortura en los Bares” Trepát
  5. “Morado” – Sr. Chinarro
  6. “Dejame Entrar” Trajano!
  7. “Mató al Fary” – Anntona
  8. ” Mi Patria en Mis Gayumbos” -Anntona
  9. “Flor de Luz” – Joe Crepuscúlo
  10. “Chill Aqui” – Extraperlo
  11. “Peor Que Las Demas” – La Bien Querida

What do you think of the music scene going on in Spain?

 

The difference between hip hop/rap/ hip-“pop”

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In an era filled with mumble “rappers,” many are searching for substantial rap and hip hop amongst the vast array of hip hop and rap sub genres. Are you searching for substantial hip hop or rap but struggling to find anything? You’ve come to the right place if you find that you like the playlist below. This is my interpretation of what I find to be good rap and hip hop.

“Hip hop” was born out of 1970 block parties in the Bronx.   Hip hop originates from artists like Sugar Hill Gang and Fab Five Freddy.  These artists focus on positive, uplifting messages; these messages encourage the listener to be optimistic for the future. Drums, synths and turntables are staples of hip hop. While hip hop generally remains on the positive side of the spectrum, rap is quite the opposite.  Rap focuses on societal issues, candidly presenting pressing issues and debates to the listener.  Rap takes a more cynical, realistic, and critical tone, bringing awareness to societal qualms. Yet, rap has moves towards mass production, the mainstream media has taken hold of the genre and changed one of its most defining aspects, the lyrics and their delivery.

 We’ve seen how hip hop and rap are very similar in that they each incorporate a certain cadence in their poetic lyrics. I know the question on your mind is, “what about mumble rap?” Mumble rap has done away with this tradition. If you can make a case to me that Lil’ Pump and his creative “Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang” can stand up Tupac, please speak up now. This consumer driven genre’s topics are money, sex, and drugs, and not in the way that socially conscious rappers have.

Mumble rap has taken the hip hop/rap tradition and distorted the complex fabric of  artists that came before them.  I believe they have shown disrespect for that tradition with their words and actions. In an interview with The Guardian, Lil’ Yachty stated “Older hip-hop people, they don’t understand evolution, or just don’t want it. One of the two.” I don’t think that this suburbs born rapper meant this with any malicious intent.  Yet, he insults the older generation of hip hop’s intelligence by staying that they can’t comprehend change.  Lil Yachty has described his music as “bubble trap,” and in that classification and the interview with The Guardian, so he does acknowledge his consumer driven brand.  This is exactly what hip “pop” is, a genre with a tinge hip hop/rap overlaid with the sugary consumer culture lyrics about friendship and partying.  Instead of “bubble trap,” I’ll call this mumble pop and classify it with hip pop.

Clearly hip hop and rap are very similar. The two familiar genres are cohesive, and often difficult to distinguish from one another.  Ultimately the main difference is the culture that is produced from the genre.  Some people believe that hip hop and rap are the same, some people don’t.  I see it as two sides of the same coin.  Mumble rap on the other hand is an outlier that makes me feel uneasy for the future of hip hop and rap.

There are many differing options on the definition of rap and hip hop. Ultimately the debate continues; these labels are elusive, constantly changing, and always contextual.

I think that lyrical legend KRS One puts it best, “Rap is something you do, but hip hop is something you live.”

Do you like mumble rap? Who are your favorite rap and hip hop artists? Comment below.

Here is a mashup of my favorite old and new hip hop and rap tracks:

DISCLAIMER: This playlist is NSFW

  1. “Honest Expression” – Binary Star
  2. “Rapp Snitch Knishes” – MF DOOM ft. Mr. Fantastik
  3. “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” – The Roots
  4. “How Many Mics” – Fugees
  5. “Hip Hop”- Dead Prez
  6. “Bubblegoose – Bakin’ Cake” – Wyclef Jean
  7. “Pump Pump” – Snoop Dogg ft. Lil’ Malik
  8. “Quiet Storm” – Mobb Deep
  9. “Spaz Out”- Jedi Mind Tricks
  10. “Alphabet Aerobics” – Blackalicious (he raps through the alphabet, so good.)
  11. “Trunk Muzik” – Yelawolf
  12. “Like I Am”- Ritz
  13. “HiiiPower”- Kendrick Lamar
  14. “Pink Matter” – Frank Ocean ft. Andre 3000
  15. “Slow it Down” – Little Brother
  16. “My House” – MF Grimm
  17. “Da Rockwilder”- Method Man and Redman
  18. “When I B On Tha Mic” – Rakim
  19. “You Ain’t a Killer”- Big Pun

Find this playlist on Spotify

Sources:

Aroesti, Rachel. “Lil Yachty: ‘Older Hip-Hop People Don’t Understand Evolution – or Don’t Want It’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 18 May 2017, www.theguardian.com/music/2017/may/18/lil-yachty-im-like-the-outcast-of-hip-hop.

Glynn, John. “Rap vs Hip Hop: What Is the Difference?” I Am Hip-Hop Magazine, 2 July 2015, www.iamhiphopmagazine.com/rap-vs-hip-hop-difference/.

Kane, Peter. “’Mumble Rap’ Poorly Represents Hip-Hop’s History and Tradition.” The Daily Cardinal, 8 Feb. 2018, www.dailycardinal.com/article/2018/02/mumble-rap-poorly-represents-hip-hop.

Majestic , Mikee. “Review: KRS One At The Garage – London! (@IAmKRSOne).” I Am Hip-Hop Magazine, 16 Apr. 2015, www.iamhiphopmagazine.com/review-krs-one-at-the-garage/.

Nikita. “Difference between Hip Hop and Pop.” Difference Between-Descriptive Analysis and Comparisons, 13 Aug. 2015, Nikita. “Difference between Hip Hop and Pop.” Difference Between-Descriptive Analysis and Comparisons, 13 Aug. 2015, www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-hip-hop-and-pop.

Seemingly Unknown Artist Spotlight: Young Men Dead

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Genre: electro pop, electronic

With the Adam Ant-esque vocals and drums, this song had me with the first falsetto.  I discovered this song in 2012 and I rediscovered it today amongst the copious playlists I have on Spotify.  Its not one of those typical electro pop power ballads, that intends to evoke the desire to dance−but often doesn’t end up fulfilling its purpose.  Young Men Dead’s “Courageous,” keeps me dancing every single time I hear it.

There is so much good music coming out of Australia right now.  There are so many Australian electro pop/dream pop/electronica etc. musicians that have garnered a decent amount of acclaim.  Most of those artists that have achieved a certain amount of fame, but have substituted mass production over the quality of their songs. But that isn’t Young Men Dead, with a total of 28 monthly listeners and 136 followers on Spotify, these finds are always precious to me.

Who are your favorite Australian musicians and bands? Comment below.

I hope you groove for many years with this song.

Songs you might like: 

Artists you might like: Animal Collective, Twin Shadow, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Black Moth Super Rainbow

Workout Playlist #1 (6/8/2018)

If you workout like me, you know how hard it is to find a good playlist with music that actually gets you pumped to workout and keeps you sustained through the workout.  Here’s one of my go to playlists, filled with songs that get you singing along and allows you to twerk out while you work out.  This playlist is dominated by fast paced:  hip hop, rap, reggaeton, acid rap, electronica, throwbacks, and dancehall.  Just the right combination of hype jams to keep you going. You’re welcome.

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Tracks: 

  1. “Shake Your Bam Bam” – RDX
  2. “Diplo Rhythm” – Diplo
  3. “Back That Azz Up” – Juvenile
  4. “Gummy” – BROCKHAMPTON
  5. “IM DEAD” – Duckwrth
  6. “Wish You Would” – Princess Nokia
  7. “Very On” – Team Dynamite
  8. “The Morning” – Raekwon
  9. “Still Run It” – Lil B
  10. “Mayor que yo”- Tony Tun Tun
  11. “Can’t Get Enough” – Tiombe Lockhart

To access this playlist on Spotify, click the link at the top of the page.

Review: “Face Up” – Washed Out

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Genre: Synth Pop, Dream Pop, Chillwave

With the overarching postmodern thought, it seems that irony taints everything with its cynicism.  Sentiment is something that we are lacking, and something that we crave. Yet most artists today are heavy handed in their use of irony.

In an interview American writer David Foster Wallace talks about the effects of postmodern thought on artists, and his hope that this oppressive trend will come to a close:

“Postmodern irony and cynicism become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what’s wrong, because they’ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.”

Ernest Green breaks free from the bondage of irony and starts a trend of sentimentalism with his new single “Face Up.” We find relief from cynicism in this soothing new track.  Although the song evokes nostalgic sounds, it does not step over the line into a postmodern self-conscious meta pop culture.

The song was produced for the Adult Swim Single Series, an ironic nighttime programming, and yet the song is anything but ironic. This song is not a product of postmodern irreverence, instead the track goes back to the basics with its smooth “Take My Breath Away,” inspired synth and light shoegazy vocals. Ernest Green elaborated on the sentimental nature of this song to Stone Throw Records, “This song was the first thing I wrote post-Mister Mellow and it contains none of the sample-driven craziness or detached irony found in that era. Instead it’s a simple song with a simple sentiment.”

Far removed removed from last year’s “Mister Mellow,” this fresh new single restores my hope for dream pop.  Thank you Ernest, we need more simple songs with simple sentiment.

Watch a “The problem with irony” here to learn more about the issue of irony in pop culture.

Songs you might like:

  • “For Phoebe Still A Baby”- Cocteau Twins
  • “Colored Emotions”-  Night Moves
  • “Pretty Haze” – Summer Heart
  • “Cassie(Won’t You Be My Doll)”- Part Time

Artists you might like: Craft Spells, Moses, Inner Wave, Part Time, TV Girl, Operators, Blouse, Still Corners, Night Moves, El Ultimo Vecino, Von Sell, Drab Majesty, Lost Tapes, Keep Shelly in Athens

Sources:

David Foster Wallace, in interview with Larry McCaffery, in “A Conversation with David Foster Wallace,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Vol. 13 (Summer 1993): 147.

Schoder , Will, director. The Problem with Irony The Problem with Irony, YouTube, 6 Oct. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2doZROwdte4.

Stream. “Washed Out – ‘Face Up’ | Stones Throw Records.” Stones Throw, 11 May 2018, http://www.stonesthrow.com/news/2018/05/washed-out-face-up.