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Archive for the ‘DJ Speedy’ Category

DJ Speedy & Blaqstarr: On Some Other Shit


-Gucci Mane “Shittin Onum” (produced by DJ Speedy)

So, don’t buy Murder Was the Case because Gucci told you not to but do buy it because it’s like, one of three, physical rap releases this year worth 12 bucks. And you get to hear a bunch of great Zaytoven and DJ Speedy beats unmixed, especially Speedy’s “Hot Damn”, now called “Shittin’ Onum”, playing as it was made to be heard: With every single insane beat flicker and snippet of sound, in CD quality.

Muddied and mixed, “Hot Damn” was another contribution to the mainstream Southern rap production avant-garde, a tangle of voices, sound effects, all fighting and tumbling into one another. “Shittin’ Onum” though, with every detail clear and separate, sounds like the logical extension of what, arguably, every producer of this decade’s been chasing: Timbaland’s mid-to-late 90s work. This is the first (sorry) Post-Timbaland beat. If Gucci’s claim in the Warner Brothers press release (linked above) is true, and this song is two years old, then it’s even more interesting because Speedy was doing this at the height of Rap & B producers reaching for the stars.

Since 05′ or so, every producer’s found their big House synths and subtle, oddball samples and they’ve been chasing Timbo’s sound, only they’ve namely been chasing a fatigued, coasting Timbo, one that left the stop-start of funk and inspired avant-sampling behind for a fun, but relatively pleasant Pop-Rave sound. What’s moving through “Shittin Onum” though, the use of buzzing flies as side-percussion, the way a shorter fly-buzz sample interacts with a piece of lilting funk guitar, is flipping baby voices brilliant. The weirdness of it is incidental or secondary to it just being ridiculously dope. Speedy even uses voice (the comedian samples) as music, but he takes it further turning fly-buzz into syncopation too.

What Timbaland abandoned–more because he had to move on, he’d perfected a style–is a sense of stop-and-start that was crucial to the actual funk racing through “Are You That Somebody” or “Pony”. Newer Timbaland (which is what producers ultimately ape because it’s easier than the early stuff) still has that Southern sense of open-space and an interest in something a little odd or staccatto, but there’s constant sound, the track is never silent, it never truly halts or pauses, so there’s always a sea of ugly synths pulsing. It’s a kind of production cowardice that always half-hides the song’s seams. Not so on this DJ Speedy track which is brave enough to get silent, to fully stop and immediately kick-back in, rooting the track in classic, jagged, angular funk, not the round cohesion of most electro-beats.

Sasha Frere-Jones says we’re in a disco era (I’d agree) and in that sense, the Timbaland of the 90s, where “Shittin Onum” has its roots, would logically be funk: A little more seedy, a little uglier, less fun…but really fun too.

-Blaqstarr “Temperature’s Rising”

In Baltimore, Blaqstarr is the biggest and most tangible influence on the youngest Club producers–the kids that rock high school parties and the kids still in high school cannot get enough of Blaqstarr’s twisted variation on Club. This is presumably true in other areas too, but there’s something especially, awesomely bizarre about Baltimore’s 10th graders fiending for this kind of oppressive music.

That’s to say, there’s a better chance that people rocking-off in Philly have some precedent, they know who Lee “Scratch” Perry or Sun Ra are and so this sort of lines-up with their aesthetics–in Baltimore, this shit is bonkers and they just kinda accept it. That’s why regionalism is a beautiful thing…the avant-garde’s just accepted by all if they grow up around it. DJ Screw’s an obvious analogue here, or Hyphy, or even how everyone in Baltimore, no matter who they vote for in the elections, has seen at least one fucking bizarre 70s John Waters movie.

But these new Blaqstarr songs–presumably from his upcoming album–aren’t Club and couldn’t be mistaken for Baltimore Club music. Yet, they make perfect sense coming from Blaqstarr because they’re an, if not logical, not unexpected continuation of his tripped-out, sloppy, 12-shots and a couple painkillers-in sound. And after a big celebration of DJ Speedy’s actual open space on a record, there are these smoked-out clouds of too much everything–neither stop-start funk or gelled-together dance pop, more like Lee Scratch Perry’s ghost swiped a crate of Baltimore Club records and took them back to Black Ark.

Each verse of “Temperature’s Rising” begins with a stutter or clipped version of the verse’s first line like, underneath it all, this is still a Club track somehow, but Blaq finally breaks through for a raunchy kinda verse before it’s all sucked-up in popping drums and a really eerie hum that seems to run parallel to the slightly happier aspects of the dusted sex jam. “Choke Hold” is almost danceable, though just as chaotic. There’s a killer dance track here, but Blaqstarr’s dissembled it entirely into pieces of Jock Jams synths, M.I.A chants, “I’m the Ish” homage, shopping carts crashing drums, and weeded-out threats and philosophy. That Baltimore Club’s biggest crossover hope is bouncing from studio to studio assembling these lumbering slabs of chaos would be disheartening if they didn’t sound so good.

-Blaqstarr “Choke Hold”

Written by Brandon

May 22nd, 2009 at 9:26 pm