Sunday, May 01, 2005

Euro-Screw

Slow Motion

Houston may be 2005’s hottest underground hip-hop spot, and, internal bickering aside, the Swisha House camp may be holding down the cutting-edge side of rap production, but the chopped and screwed phenomenon continues to make waves far beyond its Screwston home ranch with Big Dada’s French frontline being the latest to take it down a notch, courtesy of a deejay from Geneva called DJ Raze...

HOW DID YOU END UP GETTING THE JOB OF SCREWING THE TTC ALBUM?

“Actually, it was a request from my man Tekilatex of TTC. We both love chopped and screwed music and he was feeling my ‘The Screwed Up Remixes’ mixtape series.”

WHAT OTHER CHOPPED AND SCREWED PROJECTS HAD YOU WORKED ON BEFORE?

“I made my first chopped and screwed mixtape over two ears ago and a new one this past summer, along with a best of DJ Screw compilation for the anniversary of his passing. This was my first time screwing a full album though.”

HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE PROJECT THEN?

“This one was a challenge for me ‘cos it’s not the usual type of stuff you chop and screw. It deals with different kinds of vibes from the synthetic dirty south sound to Miami bass stuff and some pop rock craziness. I have to take some time to find the right vibe for each track and also get creative with the project - you know, add blends, scratches, interludes and stuff to make it become a whole new experience. And I re-arranged each track separately – I didn’t screw the whole thing all at once.”

HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH THE TRACK ‘CODEINE’ (WHICH IS ALREADY DESIGNED TO BE PLAYED AT DIFFERENT SPEEDS)?!

“Yeah, that song’s funny! I had already used the screwed version of it for a mixtape (the version you hear when you play the song at 33rpm on the 12” release). For the screwed TTC album then I slowed it down a little more and added some chops.”

HOW POPULAR IS CHOPPED AND SCREWED MUSIC IN EUROPE THEN?

“I think here it’s kind of a whole new thing but it’s getting known and appreciated more. I know some cats in Geneva that have been into it since like 1996! Back then I wasn’t taking that whole style seriously but years later I realised how deep that shit is. Some people don’t like it at all and believe you have to be under the influence to feel it but that’s not really the case. You just have to listen closely.”

Crunk - What Is It?



Speak Ya Clout

Last year in HHC’s sometimes sister title Kings we quipped how it wouldn’t be long before football pundits started talking about the likes of a Roy Keane or a Patrick Viera – any no holds barred hardman really – as being somewhat crunk in the tackle. Sadly, that off-handed usage of the word is far more accurate, appropriate and, well, simply ‘right’ than the way in which crunk has been grossly misused, molested and banded about by those outputs pertaining to speak to the masses.

Not only has it been affixed as an adjective to a whole smorgasboard of songs that are not even remotely crunk in any way or under any particular influence whatsoever, but its definition has been slandered as an amalgamation of crazy and drunk (it’s popular dreadlocked talisman himself has claimed this compound as poppycock) and the spectacularly spastic and ill-informed line “crunk makes bling look intellectual” has appeared in a daily free newspaper; a line which crumbles on so many levels that you suspect it’s meant as an ironic and highly hip-hop-self-referential aside. Except it appeared in Metro, an organ not especially known for its ironic and highly hip-hop-self-referential asides.

The whole kit’n’crunk kaboodle largely stems from a misunderstanding of Lil Jon’s role in the crunk evolution. What Mr Smith did so successfully was to, first, introduce an established slang term to a wider audience via the chorus of ‘Who U Wit?’ and, secondly, to label a certain sound – his sound – as being crunk. And that’s it. Everything else is speculation for the sake of filling up pages of magazines, newspapers and airtime.

Long before all this the new c-word had been used in hip-hop slanguage, from down south mainstays to breakout boys Outkast’s very first album. Using the term ‘getting crunk’ though is a world away from applying it to describe actual music. After all, no one would still bother to attempt to call, say, Madlib’s latest productions ‘jazz rap’ even though they may sample jazz records and, to the ear, come across as being somewhat jazzy at times - it’s a distinction that’s far from clever but seemingly still not simple enough for some to follow.

Again, the whole Hypnotized Minds camp may make exceedingly rowdy music at times, but Juicy J and friends are far closer to self-labelled thugs tearing the club up than Lil Jon’s coined crunk music. (Additionally, the sound of North Memphis’ finest has been often likened to a modern day incarnation of the Stax in-house sound, which paints a far more complex picture than just lumping it all in as ‘crunk’.)

Of course though, the twist in all this crunkology is that for all the column inch intellectualising and interweb message board amateur analysis it’s spawned (this lil’ ol’ diatribe included), crunk certainly favours a gut reaction feeling based on instinct over any sort of analytical justification. It’s the ultimate in hip-hop music to get physical to, not to journalistically masturbate over. So get buck, motherfucker, get buck ya bitch!

(Originally appeared in Hip-Hop Connection magazine in April 2005.)

Featuring Lil Jon & Big Boi

Brooke Valentine feat. Lil Jon & Big Boi
‘Girlfight’
(Virgin)

According to Dan Greenpeace this is huge in the stip clubs of Atlanta, so you can pretty much imagine the theme before even pressing play. What it is in fact is another Lil Jon electro-infused club knocker, but with particularly lacklustre vocals. Even an appearance from Big Boi, does little to elevate its predictability. She looks fit though. Rob Pursey

Donkey!



Federation
‘Donkey’
(Virgin)

People continue to sleep on the Rick Rock produced Federation who dropped one of last years most original LPs. ‘Donkey’ refers to a woman’s hind legs and ass (of course!?) and the beats come complete with ‘hee-haws’ and club ready bass and hand-claps. Totally ridiculous and at the same time totally addictive. Rob Pursey

Geto Boys 'Yes Yes Y'All' Review

Geto BOys
‘Yes Yes Y’all’
(Rap A Lot)

An incredible comeback set off by this single which manages to sound both retro and futuristic simultaneously. Not a damn thing has changed for the best ever line-up of the group, with Scarface holding it down whilst Willie D rails against the critics and "faggot scene" award shows. As is often the case, Bushwick attempts to steal the show with some hilarious lyrics about The Beatles, R Kelly and Little Richard, but only manages a tie with the knock of Scarface’s classic beat. Rob Pursey

Nolia Clap!



UTP/Hot Wright
‘Nolia Clap (Remix)’ b/w ‘Dope Man’
(Rap A Lot/Asylum)

Last year saw Juvenile’s ‘Nolia Clap’ creep up as the ultimate sleeper hit, running mixtapes across the US and adding the street element to the south’s incredible radio dominance. Far from played out, its music is barely changed but is now party to a posse cut of epic proportions with the unbeatable line up of Z-Ro, Bun-B, Slim Thug, TI and lesser knowns Earl Hayze and Hot Wright. If that wasn’t enough, the latter of the list gets his chance to shine solo on the ‘Dopeman’ remake on the flip. However, this is no lame retread but a homage with an identity all of its own, that with the right promotion could blow itself. All of this adds up to the fact that Rap-A-Lot, one of hip-hop’s truly classic labels is going to blow away the competition this year. Rob Pursey

Paul Wall & Chamillionaire 'Controversy Sells' Review



Paul Wall & Chamillionaire
‘Controversy Sells’
(Paid in Full)
4/5

If internet buzz is the new buzz beyond mixtape buzz, then Paul Wall and Chamillionaire sound like a swarm approaching. Shame then that just as the latter has signed to Universal their partnership should end in a bitter dispute over, you guessed it, cash. This hasn't stopped Paul Wall putting out their unfinished LP, while beef and threats for Chamillionaire are chronciled via interludes. The quality of their classic 'Get Ya Mind Correct' is still in evidence, especially on cuts such as 'Here I Am' and 'I Got Game', and the LP sounds far from bodged together. Rob Pursey