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latest comments

left (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): nice one jace. just saw paris is burning myself and…
sebcatlitter (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): from the start of this century white folks in the w…
jace (UNLIDDED EAR): re: soundman mics, they make versions especially fo…
ragudave (UNLIDDED EAR): Those headphones mikes would be great for bootleg…
ragudave (DO NOT SPIT): billthompson.orgm p3shogmanay.m3u The horns an…
mini/komi (GRIME-FIGHTERS, o…): This puts Nelly's new single, 'Over And Over,' feat…
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 …


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

vinyl rescue service


Field recordings! Don't make sense! Consumed as mp3 soundbites! But here we go: This bellringing rip, Puja, comes from the Audiofile Collective's Do Not Spit Here And There: A Noise Primer on the Indian Subcontinent.

    This track, like field recordings in general, requires a different way of listening: things happen, but they don't tug with a song's plotted drama. (Dogs = music, cats = field recordings?) Listening to sound uncoupled from narrative expectations can be refreshing--signals drift in, bump & grind, slip away. Unlearns the way melody lines, beat drops, chorus- verse- bridges, chord changes, etc. condition our ears to expect certain flows and frame the interpretation of music/organized sound. Like that stuff you pour in your ears to make the hardened wax dribble out.



    A webbed mix of insight & haterism is being dropped on a Dissensus grime thread, with DJ Logan Sama in one corner and music critic Simon Reynolds in another. At some point it boils down to fake/real arguments. Which always make me sleepy. Like attending a sociology lecture.

    As a black american male, I´ve got a deep ongoing distrust of “realness”. History and context always matter, absolutely. (My mom calls me nigger and it means nothing. You call me nigger, I fuck you up.) But America perches atop a massive history of black people & culture being propped up as simultaneously more real and more alien. (If I could separate bids for realness from racist misconceptions then, maybe then, I could keep it real with the best of 'em...) Most debates about genuine/inauthentic bypass messy nuances of, er, reality to achieve their points. Behind fake/real dichotomies sit creepy social determinism & wannabe cops of the real, not to mention hackneyed media narratives of “voice from the ghetto.”  
    (Aside: Interesting to think about George W. Bush as a warped negative of the realness press template. Instead of feelgood preset “look at person from the ´hood who used their natural talent to create streetwise yet refined art that speaks to us all”, Dubya offers a perverse inversion: “look at this talentless child of massive privilege who tanked several companies before becoming leader of the most powerful empire the world has ever known.” Grim, not grime.)

     ...Back to british eskimo thug music. "It's just funny to see the self-appointed custodians of the scene getting a bit worried that their preciously accrued subcultural capital is going to be devalued,” explains Reynolds, “ because finally, after several years of faffing about, the scene looks like it finally might make it.” He´s on point. Healthy scenes need to be crowded with poseurs and outsiders and hustlers and haters and innovators and people who bite the innovators so fast they themselves become innovators. Any scene must crack itself open to gain greater relevance.

    Reynolds continues-- “And so it starts, all the bollocks about 'who's real grime', and who should cover it, and how.... you'd rather have the media ignore it so you can complain about being excluded... typical UK undergroundism self-sabotage. except that the people who ARE actually in the scene all want to make it and cross over, they practically talk about nothing else!”

    This touches on a real paradox. Prior to mixtape heat and platinum sales, 50 Cent was only Curtis Jackson, just another black dude with a rough life who´d taken a couple bullets, not a single photoshopped pic in his nonexistent presskit. Unless you´re famous and “real”, unless your realness can tap into marketing and publicity gambits and set the media abuzz, you´re just plain real, which usually means a crap job, taxes, utility bills, substandard heath care, TV, no love or even hate from strangers in the blogosphere regarding your socioeconomic habitat, artistic fables, and/or assault history.

    I think one of most & least “real” places in America (meaning America´s media-saturated self-imagining) is dying rural towns: white trash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, toxic methamphetamine kitchens, toxic boredom, beer addiction, the Zep, who knows? The so-called street cred (aka branding power) of predominantly black urban ghetto culture receives constant reinforcement with ClearChannel/MTV/corporate-backed hiphop fantasies (8 Mile as a movie-length advert for Eminem´s melanin-deficient authenticity), while  images of poor, predominantly white heartland America are largely absent. Hard to think about. Unreal. Despite the raw economic reality for millions of people (many remaining faithful to the Bush camp as said camp return to screw them over and over). Unreal, unmarketable and, like the current ban on images of US soldiers returning in coffins, simply distasteful.

    Grime is strivers´music. One of the elements of grime I find most compelling is its beefed-up bent sincerity. Not “realness” per say, but rather crews clashing, vibing off each other, pushing ish forward with unreal beats and bombastic Jerry Bruckheimer-style “realist” rhymes. [Quick cut to helicopter-on-fire careening into exploding car as ruggedly handsome hero parachutes into speedboat piloted by bikini-clad heroine figure courtesy of a cocaine diet. Dolby-surround orchestra crescendo, hard pan right, quick cut...]

    This is why the DJ ethos--if the beat is hot, play it!--allows for such freedom. Up-from-the-streets real or top-down fabricated inauthentic, you play it if it´s bumpin´. You´ve probably heard about how Afrika Bambaataa would play the Beatles, the Monkees, and Kraftwerk alongside soul, funk jams--and in so doing helped birth hiphop, the genre whose polished, policed halls have sparked the fetishization of “real” more than any other.

    Culture is theft and love multiplied by marketplace hustle.

DJs thrive on functionality. If it works, use it. We cobble together contexts from fragments; the sounds we spin become pieces in the overall vibe of a set, reflected against crowd response,  soundsystem quality or lack of it and how that impacts the mixing, the general arc of the evening. DJing records is like writing a story with other people´s words. The question is never “who owned this word”? or “where did this word grow up?”-- the only thing you need to know is if the words string together into something meaningful.

    While I´m not feelin´ the real/fake thing, I am hugely into the real fake. Paris is Burning! If you haven´t seen this documentary yet, I recommend it. Poor queer transvestite/transgender blacks and latinos in NYC, staging strong fragile dope drag balls. Radically vulnerable men going beyond passing, competing to see who can strut the most convincing Executive Realness. And that´s how it is: broke-ass black gays know better than anyone the subtleties of dress, voice, and poise needed to exude Wall Street executive power or sexy white womanhood. For real.


Hold up. Isn´t Jay-Z gay? and what about Sly & Robbie? I´ve never been to Jamaica but I know enough to know that 'Homophobia in Jamaica' is (at the very least) a hazy swirl of bogeyman shimshams, oceanic misogyny, unlubricated curiosity, overwrought machismo, plus oddball taboos on cunnilingus and THC-gummed moral vision and the emperor of Ethiopia,--despite whatever he has to say about it--is God.

    Tanya Stevens says: “"I have seen this industry go through so many phases of stupidity, I no longer even pay attention.”

She´s quoted in a Village Voice article on the reggae-homophobia clash, and GunYoga weighs in with a provocative link-ful post (that diverted me to the hilarious Black People Love Us).

    Jah Division, title of the Voice piece, also happens to be “Russia´s oldest and best roots reggae band” and white Williamsburgers performing dubbed-out instrumental Joy Division covers, who just dropped a novelty 12” on Social Registry. Talk about d(r)ubbing a dead horse..!


I feel like a spy, wandering the streets and recording in secret.

Gear flush: finally got my greasy fingers on a pair of Soundman OKM binaural microphones, thanks to Nat Slang in Berlin. They go in your ears and look exactly like plain 'earbud' style headphones, but instead of pumping sound, the delicate mics can record everything you hear with realistic stereo separation.

Very useful for city & field recording, audio voyeurism, and realizing that the urban soundscape is unbelievably polluted by car noise. In a certain sense the futurists--Italy´s most stylish fascists-- got what they wanted: chaotic machine clatter constituting public sound, jackhammers in the opera; automobiles are LOUD.

Imagine if cars were silent or as quiet as bikes? More people would get run over, true, but we´d be able to hear the rich subtle soundlife normal buried under muffler roars, squealing brakes, and wheels whoosing on pavement. Right now trying to listen to my city over the din of cars is like listening to music with the vacuum cleaner on.


"How much touring was he doing?" She laughed. "He got to know good drug dealers in every city in Europe. He was a fantastic gourmand. He oozed culture. It was incredible." James twisted around in his chair. "And what do you think of it now? With twenty-twenty hindsight and all? I mean…"
    "I'm so stoned that my eyes could pop out!" Jenn said, and shook with a fit of giggles. Her laugh seemed self-consciously patterned after a crow. "People just use the idea of Greek gods possession as a way to vent their least appropriate impulses. This sort of thing is obvious when you come from a place like I do. There's another way to phrase it, but it would take--"
    "Fewer words?" he butted in.
"Dammit, no. More words. It would take many more words to tell it another way. I use the easiest metaphors on people with dull imaginations. The best way to tell it takes a whole day, starting a sunup and ending the following sunup. That's what you might call the uncompressed version."