Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The funky seduction


For the reasons I’ve outlined in the Mavado post below, namely that dubstep’s dark aethetic has started to feel constrictive and oppressive, I’ve found myself listening to as much funky as I can find recently, as well as the usual vocal grime, dancehall and desi.

Up until now this funky fever has been fuelled by the infectious enthusiasm for the scene I contracted interviewing Supa D, Soulja and Geeneus last year, but if I’m honest while I was curious, I wasn’t gripped by the sounds I was encountering. The Supa D Rinse mix CD will no doubt be looked on as some kind of “first” in the genre but it still doesn’t move me like grime.

But some kind of threshold was crossed for me a few weeks back when a Dissensus user posted a link to a Marcus Nasty set on Déjà Vu.

As the head of the Nasty Crew, Marcus is infamous in grime, but he’s also well known for his funky DJing. Unlike the Supa D mix CD, his set is hosted by two MCs, Shantie and Quincy, which is an essential element of the experience for me. Also there’s loads of rewinds, providing essential dynamic range, in interesting opposition to some of the suggestions Supa and Gee made about the lack of reloads in funky.

While there are the first hints of a few grimey funky tunes (gunky? Haha…) at the end of this mix, for me, the killer cut on this mix is “Do You Mind” by Crazy Cousinz. It comes at the beginning of the second section, the singer, Kyla, unleashing lyrical seduction.

”The whole night…”

The ear strains to this line. What exactly is she saying?

”…the whole night…”

The whole night what?

There’s something Loefah, the master of reduction and minimalism, said in interview a few years ago: "The way I see it, space is just as much of an instrument as a kick or a snare."

“F… the whole night…”

Uh oh. Wait a minute. Did she just say…

“Would you mind if I f… the whole night?”

“Who minds?! Tell the truth!” spits Shantie.

The funky seduction: it’s irresistible.

· Download the Marcus Nasty on Déjà Vu set here. Listen to a clip of "Do You Mind" here or check Crazy Cousinz' latest Rinse show. Mmm bongos: oingy boingy!


worrior said...

Yes, love that song been listening to it over and over on that set. Had no idea who it was so thank you.

Secret Agent Gel said...

I locked to the Cousinz show yesterday cos I've been wanting to hear more of the funky house sound. What I've heard, I don't love a lot of it. But the cousinz toe this line between funky house and sort of "nice" grime that I love. More steppy, more 8bar, more frenetic. Def a good look.

Anonymous said...

I think alot of people are gettin mixed up out here.

if u wanna hear mcs spitting and reloads and stuff go listen to grime. ur not gonna get a better music for it.

me personally i listen to funky coz i like the musical aspect of it and the dance feeling it gives. if im in a mc mood ill listen to boy better know or a grime thing. funky is my holiday from grime and id like it if i could have a break from the mc side of things. last thing i wanna do is hear a shit version of what is already out there.

stick to what u believe in and dont jump on the wagon just coz u see sumone else doing well.

let grime be grime and funky be funky!


Unknown said...

To be fair, I love house but in my honest opinion think it should be left WELL alone by MC's...

Their bars are terrible and ruin decent music - I do think it's a case of jumping on the bandwagon...

joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joe said...

At FWD last night, Feva (Circle) played Karizma - Outta Control. I thought this was pretty sick. (Karizma's MySpace says he's from Baltimore. The tune came out on Defected. Would anyone call it funky?)

Also played a tune called "Ocean View" -- any ideas on the arist? -- and Geeneus - Yellow Tail. Feeling these for sure. :-)

Anyone know of any forums or that where funky set tracklists are posted?


Anonymous said...

Generally id say grime is for mc's and funky should be left alone...

Theres only a few mc's that i dont mind over funky.. Dogtaninon is one of them... he doesnt batter the mike he simply compliments the house.. so it can be done but only with subtlety...
I've listened to the mc's on marcus nastys house shows and although there less subtle than dogtanion, you still get the feeling that the house comes first THEN comes the mc-ing..

Grime is definatly about the mc's where as funky house is all about the music..

Chico (mc/DJ/producer)

Kaps said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yeah generally this whole 'funky' debate has been goin on a while still. Myself personally, I like both grime and funky, but some people are getting it highly twisted about what each respective genre is about, as I don't really think the two warrant a like-for-like comparison.

Grime I am an avid fan of, and have been listening to since its inception in the music scene, and for me it is definitely about the mc's, as the dark, minimal construction of some of the beats are made for guys like Skepta and Co to spill bars on...that is what its all about and thats what makes a grime riddim worthy of 2 or 3 successive pull ups.

Now I've always loved house, but its definitly one of those ones where the tunes should ideally be left alone, unless the MC or host knows what they are doing. the operative word here is 'host'. As geeneus previously pointed out, house music isnt a ting for 4 or 5 mans to be huddled round a mic competing to ride a tune with a 16 bar outburst. Ive seen it an its not pretty. A competent host on a house set should compliment it, not be detrimental. I think only a few 'hosts' out there at the moment are have the capacity to do it well, namely Spidey G and Dogtanian, they have a good ear when to drop the odd verse, and keep the crowd bubbling. We dont need lyrical dexterity from these guys, cos its not about that. they do what they do well.

With the rest of the current crop of bandwagon jumping MC's not understanding the intracacies of how to host a house set, it means I have to look increasingly for 'Mic free Zone' house raves to go to now.

Where as for grime, you get hyped when you hear a certain lyric, that is what makes it and your just waiting for that next trademark phrase from frisco or chipmunk or ghetto etc. With house its when you hear a particular tune, as its a more dance orientated style.

House music, in particular the US soulful stuff has always been my preference, but I totally appreciate the new twist some of the new producers are putting into some of the recent (ish) club bangers. I admit im the first to make up noise when i hear a Mr bean, siegalizer or tadow's Hornz.

however, there is a line. The omni-present influnce of grime and its darker sound is meaning that some of the newer production out there now on a lot of house tunes are making them sound a bit like watered down grime tunes. im all for evolving music and breaking the boundaries, but some things should be left alone. I dont personally like the new stripped down "grunky" hybrid that has been created, and I think this is responsible for a lot of people sitting on the fence when trying to compare these two types of music. its neither here nor there.

"to reload or not to reload?" "MC or no MC" and so on.

There nuttin wrong with a few pacier, more bass-injected house tunes (like the more tribal or electro), to break up a set a little, but i feel some guys out there should listen to the back catalogue of people like Kenny Dope, Masters at Work, DJ gregory and Karizma to see how its done properly, with the tight production and layered sounds.

If I want soulful ill listen to quentin harris or franck roger. I want UK funky ill listen to Supa D, Pioneer. I want a blend of both Ill listen to Perempay and Kismet. (Perempay & Dee have got the REAL uk house production down well though, going by what ive heard from the podcasts, some of the beats Ive heard are killin it, so shouts out to them man). I want sensible club bangers ill listen to geeneus, maybe the odd bit from Invasion or tadow.

For me, grime has always had a set of qualities and an untouchable postion on its pedestal, and I love it for that, I just dont want to see its aspects ruin a totally different type of music that I also happen to love.

Keep funky just that - funky, and grime grimey, and lets love both.
Not some bullshit half-arsed bandwagon in between where no one knows whats what.

Hold tight all the UK mandem in BOTH scenes, keep doin what your doin and making moves, so long as its the correct ones.


Blackdown said...

wow, big up bro, thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed comment. yourchest.

i cant help but feel that some of the funky heads think me and other bloggers dont understand what's going on or are pushing for a grime invasion of funky. it's not that.

it's just that there seems to be lots of hype around funky that a lot of grime fans are rushing too. I'm not encouraging it or trying to stop it - i'm just observing it's happening.

this makes me see a parallel with UK garage, where a US house/garage sound developed it's own UK sound that featured older headz and hosts on the mic, that then got an influx of youngers keen to MC.

so, i'm not *advocating* grime MCs taking over funky at all, but having seen it once, i cant help but point out the parallels from 8 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Yeah blackdown true say, I totally see where your coming from. At the end of the day i just felt I had to get that off my chest....but no doubt the debate will keep raging evermore.

I definitely agree with the parallels you draw attention to with what happened in the garage scene.

Like you, Im not encouraging or disparaging it, I just wanted to kinda put my view across, as it were.

I think an important thing to remember generally is that people are ultimately very fickle, and fickleness means opinions can change like the wind, thus affecting the lifespan or longevity. i work in the design and advertising industry and its exactly the same - one week something is not, then the next a particular style is blown up and everyman and his dog is jumping on it.

I think what is needed is perhaps a more considered and nurtured approach from all those involved in the industry, if we are to keep it alive, and keep it moving but also make it fresh and innovative with a collective effort.
All things have a shelf-life, but how long that is depends on the mentality of those involved.

The fact is that now technology has enabled virtually anyone to make music, where even as little as 5 or 6 years ago it was still quite a selective thing. While this is good for people looking to experiment, learn and create a 'new' sound, it also means that the criteria for any kind of quality control fall by the wayside - namely for every genuinely talented up and coming producer that puts out 1 or 2 good tunes, there is a veritable pile of 15 or 20 tunes that are shit. And unfortunately, its the shit stuff that sometimes gets more attention.

This is where I think more olders and youngers need to get together. I got no problem seeing the talented youngers coming through and showing their stuff, i think its great, but I also think some of the older vets can lend some advice on how to use the aspects of what made their tunes in their era so good, and help the youngers develop and refine the raw talent into something truly great.

You need to think what constitutes a great tune, or a classic. There are old school garage/house vinyls in my box in front of me as i write this that sound as good today as when I bough them in 1994, 95, 96. Ive always listened to old school garage and house, and will continue to until i die, but even though I love grime and funky, its debatable as to how much of that from the last couple of years will stand that test of time.

But a lot of olders seem to turn their nose up at some of the younger generation in the scene because they feel they are self-destructive to the genre, and arent taking the time to think about what constitutes good music, they are just concerned about making the P's and gettin on the next DVD/mixtape. or the youngers dont want the olders to get involved cos they think they will start tryin to stifle the creative direction their production/sounds/lyrics are taking. I think its a 50/50 thing and by the two groups collaborating more, I think the outcome will be things that are definitely more evolutionary than revolutionary, but for the better nonetheless.

However In the same instance, you will also find some of the 'wagon jumpers' unable to make a convincing transition from grime to funky or vice versa, because their experience and knowledge is limited, and this shows in the weak production values, using the same tired tribal beat loop I've heard a thousand times. Or they take the elements from the one guy that actually managed be set a shining example to do it well, then re-fix it into some dogshit. But because they are only bringing what they know (which isnt much) to the table, the end result isnt going to be good, but they still churn it out because they dont want the wagon to leave them stranded without them being able to climb on an rinse for a bit.

It reminds me of that switch when garage got a bit darker and less vocal, the beginnings of '8-bar- and grime where virtually every other tune in the record shop was a re-hash of musical mobs pulse x, or wileys eskimo 'devil' mix.

The hype machine isa dangerous thing, cos while it is good for promotion and generating interest and can help propell a niche into the mainstream, it also encourages a lot of leech-like behaviour.

namely you have a nice healthy music genre, which was self - supportive. then it blows up and gets real popular. then a whole heap of parasites attach themselves to it, rinsing it and bleeding it dry, leaving it looking like a shadow of its former self that no-one gives a fuck about anymore. the leeches are then searching for the next ting to decimate.

I dont want to see this happen to either grime or house/funky, cos in those two things we have some of the most promising sounds to come out of london in a while still.

I got no problem with grime heads moving to funky, I just wish those involved would stop for a sec and be a bit more creative and look to the past present and future for influnces when thinking how to take a sound forward, rather than just getting all up on it, and trying to revert it back to the genre you just came from.

So i can see how some other bloggers may not understand whats happening in the scene or why this debate is so back and forth.

Some people may disagree with what im saying, cos im writing this being someone who is older (28) and seen the majority of the peaks and troughs of this music scenes and others. others people may feel it what im saying, but regardless i just felt we needed a bit of a deeper look into it. theres a thousand other issues all connected to this topic which im sure you guys will all pick up sooner or later.

Again though, I still feel that beacuse funky and grime are like chalk and cheese, as asoon as the two start converging or a hybrid forms, the arguments are going to be rife.

In all honesty its almost if they can be likened to two fighting dogs. Separately, they can be grown and fed to provide many months or years of enjoyement, but put them together and mistreat them then they will either fuck each other up, or they will turn round an bite you back. And that is when you need to have the muthafucker put down!

shitty analogy, but hey.

Bless up