Eclectic: A Life With Music
Suggested Audio Candy:
Reel II Reel Untitled
So I got to thinking; I haven’t really revealed my musical preferences to my Grue family as yet. Therefore I have decided that it is time for me to enlighten you to the audio of my childhood and indeed adulthood. Me being me, it will incorporate many different genres from various stages in my mortality as music has played a different role at numerous different junctures.
If you we’re ask me for a favorite genre I would point you towards the title of this piece. I’m open minded, always open to new styles and have music to suit any mood. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Growing up it can be hard stating a preference; image is everything and whilst some music is regarded as ‘the shit’, other less fashionable music is simply regarded as shit.
We’ve all been there, a song comes on the radio which we secretly harbor love for but, due to the uproar and humiliation of revealing such affection for said piece of music, we keep it within as our own guilty pleasure.
My journey started the same way as so many others; I sat in my bedroom listening to whatever pap was bleeding out of my radio, blissfully aware of the world outside and reciting track after track word for word. Hell, I even had the odd sneaky dance in the privacy of my own quarters.
I learned how to put one left foot in front of the other left foot and swayed my head like Stevie whilst probably appearing to have a back-crack stuffed with hemorrhoids in the process. Over time the rhythm started to get me, I’d begin to get more extravagant with my movements and sung my little heart out, with nobody to tell me that I didn’t have the moves. Consequently I didn’t.
My oldest Sister bagged herself her soulmate at around that time and I still recall the moment this Nubian prince entered my room in sheer Horror as I strutted my less-than funky stuff, not aware of the audience. I believe “What the hell is this shit you’re listening to?” or words to that effect relaying his disdain at how this ten-year old beanpole could be so oblivious to just how sad he was.
Over the following few months he would take me to his car, which seemed to change every week, and educate me about ‘real music’. It wasn’t an overnight thing, he had his work cut out with this particular white boy but, credit to him, he stuck with it.
He introduced me to 70s rare grooves, old-school rap and funk the likes of Parliament and Funkadelic. I shit you not, if my hair was thicker, I would’ve bust out an Afro. Unfortunately for this bandy-legged white boy on the cusp of puberty, alas no dice. I got my groove on, grasped my crutch like Cameo and nodded my cranium like a bobble-head as I began to soak that funk up and find my dancing feet for the first time.
It wasn’t long before I decided my own musical mind I began to follow the House Music Scene, particularly Detroit and Chicago where Electronic Rhythms were at their most prevalent. This movement veered off in some pretty otherworldly directions.
Acid House became the warehouse choice and ‘Aciiieed’ the battle-cry, at least commercially. Acid House caused a furor and was vilified by the press. Before you could say ‘trippy’ the government had stuck their oar in and the whole scene dissolved like an effervescent capsule.
House Music Influences: Todd Terry, Bam Bam, Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Marshall Jefferson, Arthur Baker
Favorite Anthems: Bango (To The Batmobile)–The Todd Terry Project, Strings of Life–Rhythim is Rhythim, Get Real–Paul Rutherford, Serpent in the Garden–The Garden of Evil, Open Your Eyes–Marshall Jefferson, A Day In The Life–Black Riot, Ecstacy–Amnesia, Live The Dream–Dream Frequency, You’re Mine–Kevin Saunderson, Rock To The Beat/Back To The Beat–Reese & Santonio
Eric B & Rakim Follow The Leader
Old Skool 80s Rap was my personal audio drug of choice for the most part though, big beats were beginning to prop up the emcees, sampling old breaks from the likes of Lyn Collins and the king JB. I had discovered my inner-blackness, I wanted to ‘Fight The Powers that be’ like Public Enemy and began to watch Spike Lee movies religiously, learning about Black-American History and the adversary they had to face at the hands of the ‘evil white man’.
My love affair with Rap continued into my late teens when something else started to appeal. Those BPMs weren’t enough anymore, Rap was veering away from the breaks and into Gangsta Rap territory and it was just too militant. Whatever happened to those ‘fat gold chains’?
Rap Music Influences: Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J (Pre-90s), Hijack, A Tribe Called Quest, Mantronix, 3rd Bass
Dopest Cuts: Follow The Leader–Eric B & Rakim, 14 Days In May–Overlord X, Strong Island–JVC Force, Fight The Power–Public Enemy, Don’t Scandalize Mine–Sugar Bear, Untitled–Hardnoise, Talkin All That Jazz–Stetsasonic, Mama Said Knock You Out–LL Cool J, My Part of Town–Tuff Crew, Buddy (Native Tongue Decision)(12″ Mix)–De La Soul feat. Jungle Brothers, Monie Love, Queen Latifah & Q-Tip
As the BPMs began to accelerate I learned the art of busting out the shapes. Dingy warehouses played host to the next leg of my musical pilgrimage. Hardcore Breakbeat, as it was crowned, was a natural progression for me. Those slammin’ beats were now sped-up double speed and accompanied by piercing synth-riffs and the occasional Rap sample. ‘Can’t beat the system? Go With The Flow’, ‘No-one can compete ‘cos I heat like a Fireball’ and the like we’re lines I already recognized, only now they were wrapped around vastly accelerated hi-hats, snares and that big bass drum.
I sat right beside large industrial speakers, soaking up enough reverb to power me up for another stint out on the floor. This bandy-legged Bambi had become a man…kinda. I’d turn up week on week in my bandana, Puffa Jacket and fresh pair of British Knights as I became something of a legend within that dense strobes. Turns out I pull shapes well and, accompanied by strobe and some searing lasers, I cut a mesmerizing line through the pollution.
Suddenly I was ushered onto the stage, what an honor. If you got the stage, and some would last less than a minute on that pedestal, before they withered away in shame. You see, the stage was elevated above that thick smoke. There was no longer safety in numbers and nowhere to hide. One wrong move and it could be the loneliest place on Earth, an icy pedestal of sadness. Not for me, I was relentless. I’d found my place in society, my family were all around me grinding their jaws gormlessly but affectionately. Then I burnt out, the music became darker. Drum ‘n’ Bass entered the arena and I knew it was time to gracefully bow out.
Breakbeat Influences: Manix, Sonz of A Loop Da Loop Era, Rhythm Section, Criminal Minds, 4Hero, The Hypnotist, The Prodigy
Blinding Breaks: Dub War–Dance Conspiracy, Drop This-4 Mega, Baptised By Dub–Criminal Minds, Mystery–From The Man Like The Pennywise, N2/Nightmare–Easy Mo, Manic Minds E.P.–Manix, DJs Take Control/Way in my Brain/The Noise (Remix)–SL2, Melba–Danse City, I Get High–Austin, Comin’ On Strong E.P.–Rhythm Section
COMING SOON Verse 2: The Metal Years, The Lost Years, The Rebirth
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
80s Rap in Pictures