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Splice Today: Your Guide to Blaqstarr’s Contributions to /\/\/\Y/\

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Until recently, Blaqstarr’s been pretty quiet–save for “Choke Hold” and “Temperature’s Rising”, two dusted kinda-Club tracks that only popped up on YouTube (one has since been removed) and the only interesting thing on Talib Kweli’s tight-pants rap attempt, Idle Warship. Then this Spring, now signed to M.I.A’s NEET label (also home to Baltimore’s Rye Rye), Blaqstarr released “Oh My Darling”, a strange, brooding dance song with Club music informing it rather than acting as its be-all and end-all.

And for those worried he’d gone relatively “pop”, they should be reminded that there wasn’t even necessarily a father to his Club sound—along with Say Wut, he completely shifted the style of Baltimore Club—but still, he also dropped a brilliant “raw version” of “Oh My Darling” that sends Frank Ski’s “Doo Doo Brown” through distorted guitar and grabs liberally from Scottie B’s classic “Niggaz Fightin” before it becomes a fog of echoing vocals and shuffling drums. It was par for the course for Blaqstarr, taking a weird R & B record and turning it into a stuttering Club epic—the only difference was, the weird R & B record was his too.

And he produced the best songs on the new M.I.A record. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest Blaq’s influence on /\/\/\Y/\ goes beyond the songs he had a clear hand in. The whole record sounds like Blaqstarr’s weird insular dance music–I think it’s why some people say the record’s “half-baked” or whatever.

Perhaps, the only genuinely lasting byproduct of the early to mid-2000s out-of-town embrace of Baltimore Club music is Blaqstarr’s slow-growing success outside his city. Though it’s not the leap from local hero to the next Timbaland so many Club producers seem to seek—it’s not even DJ Class’ temporarily raised profile with last year’s “I’m the Shit”–Blaqstarr is the best example of Baltimore Club producer leaving the city and doing something. I took a look at his contributions to the new M.I.A over at Splice Today:

On M.I.A’s last album Kala, Baltimore’s Blaqstarr produced “The Turn” and allowed producer Switch to turn Club classic “Hands Up Thumbs Down” into “World Town”. Now, Blaqstarr’s behind the two best tracks on /\/\/\Y/\ (“XXXO” and “It Iz What It Iz”) as well as every bonus track on the “deluxe edition.” While the 1000th think piece on M.I.A’s latest shows up in your RSS feed, I thought I’d narrow the focus a bit and look at the contributions of a Baltimore Club game-changer.

Written by Brandon

July 15th, 2010 at 8:52 pm

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  1. “XXXO” becoming a hit anywhere on the level of Paper Planes is something I doubt willl happen, but that does not mean the Remix with Jay-Z hasn’t gotten play on Hot 97 and does not mean it is not aiming for that popularity. The song is catchy, very easy to sing along with, but the actual production sounds a step beyond what most radio stations are playing currently (hearing this between “Ridin Solo”, “California Gurls”, or any Drake song would be pretty jarring difference) but then again I would have said the same about “Paper Planes”.

    I still need to actually listen to “/\/\/
    Y/\”, and it good to actually see something close to weekly posts again on the blog.


    16 Jul 10 at 12:06 am

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