Monday, February 02, 2015

garage rap # 3

Everybody remembers "Bouncing Flow", right?

More entertaining than Illmatic. Dearer to me than any Wu-Tang album.

But who knows this one?

Certainly as good as anything The Lox ever did.

(Well except maybe this).

Love the gymnastic / acrobatic flow, especially -

tight when i spit
we drop hits
like shits
in toilets
K2 legit
flip scripts
cause an eclipse
K2 floss with the biggest whips

and the whole set of rhymes - humble, tumble etc - leading up to

when i let go of this mic
it will crumble
... crumble

Like GK Allstars's "Garage Feeling", first heard "Danger" on the Garage Rap Vol. 1 compilation

Which I picked as my #2 album of 2002, not because it's solid gold (far from it) but because of the collision between the intense excitement I felt about the Genre Yet To Be Named Grime and the immense difficulty that an expatriate faced in terms of getting hold of the stuff.

Here's what I said about the comp at the time...

VARIOUS ARTISTS Garage Rap, Vol. 1 (Eastside) 
In 18 months or so, UKG’s gone from having an absolute flood of compilations (circa 2step’s chartpop crossover zenith, with most of the comps redundantly overlapping and stuffed with the same annoyingly obvious choices) to the present situation where there’s almost no comps whatsoever. Exactly the same thing happened with hardcore in 1991-92: just as the singles chart was over-run with rave anthems, there was a deluge of ravesploitation comps with titles like Bangin’ and Rush Hour. When the music went dark and the hits abruptly dried up, suddenly the comps vanished--just at the point when the music was getting really interesting, really twisted, really in need of compiling. UK garage likewise is in dire need of compilations right now because unless you are involved in this music as “a way of life”, unless you are going to the specialist shops (and while London has dozens of them, some conveniently central like Blackmarket and Uptown in D’Arblay Street, and others scattered across Greater London, the rest of the UK/world is fucked, basically—Juno and other mail-order companies notwithstanding), and going on a weekly basis, you’re going to miss some amazing tunes. Tunes that in years to come will be as highly sought after as the darkcore and early jungle tunes that now sell to collectors for anywhere from 15 to 200 quid. 

As far as I’m aware, there’s just two comps dedicated to MC-fronted garage (So Solid’s Fuck It, while excellent, doesn’t count ‘cos it has instrumentals and R&B-flavored 2step songs in its mix) and by far the superior of these two is Garage Rap, Vol. 1Despite its being heavily advertised on the pirates, I had to hunt the fucker down; none of the megastores or Our Price type chains stocked it. Eventually I found one in an urban music store on Ladbroke Grove. This must reflect the fact that (as with darkside in ’93) most people into this music buy it on 12 inch the week it comes out (or just tape specific shows off the pirates), and as yet there’s hardly any scene outsiders who want this music in pre-sifted, dilettante-friendly form. Or at least that is the perception on the part of retailers and the music business. Which is a pretty weird state of affairs only a year after So Solid Crew went #1 in the singles charts and sold nigh on half-a-mill copies of their debut album, but there you go. 

The comp? It’s got GK Allstars’ “Garage Feeling”, my #5 single of 2002. It’s got 2001 classics from Pay As U Go and Wiley & Roll Deep, “Know We” and “Terrible” respectively—both chips off the same block of string-swept, regal grandeur. I’m not sure if I can express exactly why the latter’s couplet “All I know is thugs and criminals/My style is quite explainable” gives me a tingle every time I hear it. It’s got something to do with the way the language and phrasing of all these garridge emcees is being pulled in three directions at once---Jamaica, B-boy America, and then underlying/undercutting everything there’s this inescapable, bathos-heavy Englishness, a dank and shabby smallness of spirit that deflates the self-aggrandisement. It’s the way “quite explainable” immediately cramps the gangsta-ragga swagger. 

Garage Rap also has great tunes like Dem Lott’s “Dem Lott Is Ere Now,” Twisted Souls’s So Solid-cloning “Roll and Ride”, and K2 Family’s “Danger” (killer lines, which again only work in a pinched London accent: “tight when I spit/we drop hits like shits/in toilets”). Overall, like an above-average-but-not-quite-outstanding session on the pirates, this comp has that curious power of all genres based around scenius rather than genius: the cumulative power of its changing-same-yness, where genericity becomes a positive aesthetic force. You love it, can’t get enough of it, want more of the same-only-slight-different.