Tuesday, December 23, 2014

mouth music # 42

#7 in FACT's 50 Best Albums of 2014    

Feels like the first time in living memory that a dancehall album featured in any hip magazine's end-of-year list

In recent years, the thought had crossed my mind now and then: when did people stop paying attention to Jamaica?  

Last time dancehall felt like an intense focus for outside-island ears was the early 2000s, with Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, et al... that flurry of riddim albums... the Billboard crossover of Sean Paul

But since then....  well, on the rare occasions I checked in, didn't seem like anything seismic had happened....  the genre seemed more or less static. 

How could that be, though? That incredible run - from the 60s through the 70s, 80s, 90s -  of new rhythmic, production and vocal ideas (not to mention huge personalities, entertainer originals)  - could it really just come to a halt? How could such a formidable sceniotic engine sputter, run out of juice?

Not sure I can hear anything really seismic (on the scale of  a Bogle, a Playground,an Egyptian) on Where We Come From...

What it makes me think of oddly enough is Rustie's Glass Swords -  Melodyne-shiny, Splenda-rific, Pixar-sculpted.... glitzy with trance-gloss, ditzy with detail... omnivore dance that lifts nifty ideas and tricks from everywhere and everywhen. 

Digi-maximalist dancehall 

The semi-deracinated provenance of the beats (international outsourcing = new norm for big or would-be-big stars) accounts perhaps for the denatured sheen and slickness 

Besides being a pleasing sound  - grain + gritlessness - the processing of the voice captures and expresses a process, an ideology even: the  local + embodied morphing into the global + informational.  

Perhaps the aspiration is a roots tinged / rootical-tangy version of the alternately Esperanto plaintive and EuroVegas party-up cosmopop purveyed by the likes of Bruno, Ne-Yo, Derulo...  

(see also Pitbull's Globalization)

("been around the world, don't speak the language/but your booty don't need explaining")