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distant lover (PULL UP OUR PANTS…): I really like reggaeton. yo no se si ustedes, pero …
Joe (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): I don't know how to approach this, but >"The so-ca…
scarboi (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): right on right now I'm living and working in one…
geoff (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): on point re: rural poverty, but your cultural sigs …
pHUSTLE (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): 'if i feel it, i feel it, and if i don't, i don't..…
stan (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): I think the thing about being "real" is: it's real…
nix (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): thought you might appreciate this quote, from a boo…
mmmm-hmmmm (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): Trying these days to keep my mouth shut when I've g…
Chris (FIRE FIRE HYDRANT…): Wiley = angry grandpa. Brings it tho. Love this…
Dub1 (UNLIDDED EAR): JAce,years ago I lived in an urban castle on the co…


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words by jace. some mp3s & annoted photos from time to time.

vinyl rescue service


A proper vinyl rip-- This is soloist Alhaji Bai Konte, from his 1985 Rounder LP. I think this track is called Fayunkunko. Will verify. Will write more in a minute, but the obvious stuff you should know:  he's a Gambian musician, playing a 21-string instrument called the Kora (popular west African harp).   If you've been getting into Joanna Newsom this year, then you should definitely check this out, as she was easily the most interesting person to rock a harp in '04.
    The backcover liner notes to the Konte are pretty great, inked in 1973.



Madrid stencil

Madrid stencil graffiti from plaza de lavapiés january 04.


Three Javier Marías novels.  Multiple books useful because whenever a native English-speaker comes to my place, I lend them one, forget what I gave to whom, and watch my collection dwindle.  Sr. Marías easily wins the prize of Best Living Spanish Author. The man possesses brutal sensitivity to detail. True, he suffers from acute Kundera-itis: Woman as saint/mother or whore/lover, but he writes like a gifted contemporary Henry James who lets tabloid blush warm his existential arabesques. Marías' prose fiends over death, time´s passing, love/lust, violence in all its forms, and little nuances of person that unravel everything. His endless comma-loving clause-filled sentences are intrinsically Spanish, it feels like you're reading Castillian even when translated into English.
     One of the books, A Heart So White, opens with the following two sentences



Watching hotel room CNN (it's been unavoidable for me these past months), I'm continually struck by how much "terrorism" has become a thing, an entity worth talking about, reporting on, etc.  George Orwell didn't expect modern life to be so much woozy fun, but if he was with me in Budapest last week, watching CNN spin in circles over the latest terrorland non-event, an alleged OBL cassette (whose message first surfaces on Al-Jazeera satellite news or a Arab-language website, and is then reproduced endlessly, everywhere, by CNN & friends), then he would have smiled a weary smile and said "I told you so." Terrorism is an international mega-trope. It's the heavy MSG sauce our big media meals come slathered in. With grunts and meaty pushing, Bush-Laden extremism butts its way into the center. I can´t even remember what big media spent its time freaking out about prior to  9/11.

            It´s been said before but not here: if media truly wanted to focus on humanity's hotspots, all the news and psuedo-news about terrorism would be replaced with stories about huge multigenerational terrifying but preventable problems like AIDS in Africa. Or even statically-more-likely dangers such as being stung by a scorpion hiding in your shoe. Because we´re more likely to die that way than in terrorist mayhem. But instead it's quick cuts to the Jakarta Hilton, where a gardener found a rusty, defunct WWII-era grenade in a half-buried old tin can.

PULL UP OUR PANTS: Reggaeton Breakdown

In the Patois Buffer Override sidebar, Sizzle wrote: "I really wish more people would pick up on the dances to go with songs thing outside of the dancehall world. A weird and conflicted example is the Terror Squad's recent Super Hit 'Lean Back' with the hook 'my niggas don't dance we just pull up our pants and do the rockaway, now lean back...' Simultaneously instigating a dance craze and pre-empting the possible rise of others through the espousal of the coolness of non-dancing. Something I strongly disagree with." Me too.

    In the face of too-cool-to-dancedom, this “Lean Back” reggaeton remix, like the genre in general, does what's necessary: blasts away any ambivalence about dancing/non-dancing with a crazy infectious beat. No sé que pasa y lo siento mucho pero este 12" doesn't credit the female MC; the dude is Miami's Pitbull.
    Reggaeton is basically latino party music. But unlike straight-up salsa or merengue or pop, it borrows heavily from hiphop, and the basic beat pattern came from late 80s, early 90s Jamaican reggae riddims. (Like Chaka Demus & Pliers' hit "Murder She Wrote").
    I first heard about reggaeton about 6 years ago from a friend in Puerto Rico, I think he described it as sounding like low-BPM techno with reggae bass. (It's true: If reggaeton had no snares, it would be slow techno, drum kick steady on the four.) I lived in NYC's Lower East Side for a minute in 2002 and reggaeton was the default soundtrack for my Puerto Rican neighbor's late-nite llello reveries and mid-morning ex- arguments, so basically I heard way more than I needed to.
    This year was hot because reggaeton began appearing on vinyl, fully entering that slipstream of greasyfingers and mix&scratch mentalities. A lot of hiphop-reggaeton connects became overt, aboveground--- N.O.R.E.'s work, heavyhitter Tego Calderón over rap beats, and, usefully, umpteen dozen reggaeton - hiphop - reggae bootleg 12"s. Pitbull's (thoroughly legal) "Culo" jam best embodies the crosstalk. He rhymes in Spanish & English over Scatta Burrell's "Coolie Dance" riddim from Kingston (via imaginary India I think), with Lil Jon giving his trademark Southern monosyllabic support. YEAH!
    Anyhow this excellent energetic Lean Back remix cuts between 2 reggaeton patterns and the original, using DJish beatscratches, triplet hits, horns stabs, and the occasional Lil Jon sample. You put the record on & peope think you're getting busy behind the decks.
    Taking a few steps atrás, the trend this tune & "Culo" represent---everybody talking to each other, then harmonizing (then cashing checks)---made 2004 nice. It wasn't really a year of hot genres, but one of hot genre slippage. Like every East Coast head looking south--Miami, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica. Like grime looking crunkwards. When I saw Dizzee Rascal, he spat over only two beats that weren't his: southern US hiphop anthems "Tipsy" (J-Kwon)  & "Like A Pimp" (David Banner).

    This hot genre slippage/crosstalk wasn't just confined to vocalists marketed as 'street'; my friend Kid606 recorded with warped ragga heroes Ward 21 & started a label called Shockout where indy beat producers do proper (ie not thefty bootlegs) collabos with reggae vocalists. Some people I know in L.A. are banging out funky intersections between reggaeton, hiphop, and drum&bass--crucially, using the last two genres as spices and the first one as the main dish. That's the most radical element of reggaeton--whereas so much pop dresses itself in fake ethnic trappings (and I love it, ¡viva Timba-tunes!), reggaeton is a the latest development in a long history of Afro-Antillean music, and its outsider, 'exotic' elements stem from mainstream hiphop & reggae. Hiphop posturing and pungent machismo remain intact but the obvious compositional elements of rap music get drowned out or submerged within reggaeton's loud Hispanic Caribbean logic. ¿Sabes lo que te digo? You feel it when music lives local & sees no need to translate itself.

    If I squint hard and go to the right wrong neighborhoods, if I shoot my television and refuse to read the newspaper, America can seem suddenly bilingual, difference-embracing, willingly desegregating, a place where dimwit notions supporting immigrant/native dichotomies and hyphenated identities grow unfamiliar rather than de rigeur.

    Then reality hits me upside the head.