General Jimmy

Writer / DJ / PR Manager / Fat Bastard

Archive for the category “Music”

Tim Westwood Interview

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1998. David Batty missed a penalty, Titanic is the first ever film to gross a billion dollars, Hugo Chavez wins his first election in Venezuela and The Lighthouse Family are still a thing. In amongst these epochal moments for the history of a year where I took my GCSEs I discover that there is somewhere else other than MTV and prowling the import Cd section of HMV to find new hip hop – BBC Radio One.

I was completely oblivious to the presence of Tim Westwood on the nation’s biggest radio station for the best part of my first two years of obsession with hip hop, only discovering it by chance when I stayed in long enough to hear the end of  (I think) Pete Tong’s show one Saturday night. There was basically an explosion, a rapper I had no idea of going “It’s Saturday, It’s Saturday, and what is this, it’s Timmy” before some genuinely legit (to my 16-year-old ears) patois launched into some absolute fire. From then on I was hooked.

It wasn’t always great listening – I can remember an episdoe with Noreaga the same year which confirmed my belief (at the time, since changed) he was horrendous – but it was one of the best ways to discover new music. It also helped me get better and deciphering music I’d heard about trying to figure out who it was (Tim wasn’t always the greatest at saying track names), so I’d read about music in The Source (also discovered in 1998) and then wait till Tim would play it.

One of these tracks was ‘My Name is’, the killer combo of Tim and The Source hyping me up to Eminem months before he released the track. Slim Shady was my first genuine real-time discovery of an emcee (something I’ve talked about on here before), having got only gotten properly into both Biggie and Tupac after they died and being far too young to experience Wu Tang, Snoop and countless others. Westwood was the only British bridge I had to these ridiculously exciting and exotic sounds from over the Atlantic, so to this day I’m hugely indebted for everything he helped me discover music too. People harp on about John Peel, Tim Dog was considerably more worthwhile to me.

So it was a genuine moment when I got to interview him as part of my day job at Skiddle. There are no real revelations in there, just a chat between two white blokes completely enamoured with this brilliant form of music. Read the Tim Westwood Skiddle interview.

The Dance Tunnel departs

Clubs closing is a natural part of the dance music ecosystem. The cold truth is the scene actually needs it; re-invention and freshness are two things that prevent stagnation, and sometimes some of the most special places in time are best preserved as a memory rather than afforded the chance to go bad. Although it is definitely rather nice when you do get the chance to properly say goodbye, as I did when Nation in Liverpool ended.

That said, it’s pretty shit when gentrification and the authorities end something before its time. I’d never been to Dalston disco Dance Tunnel, but I’d heard much about it and it’s just the latest in a spate of closing in the capital that have seen similair spots like Plastic People shut down. A fellow dance journalist Manu Ekanayake wrote a particularly prescient piece about the need for London to get a nightlife mayor, and sooner or later you’ve got to hope that the powers that be recognise the huge role clubs have in keeping people safe and developing our cultural values.

Classic boss Luke Solomon shared a mix he did at the venue back in January earlier this year, with one of the men behind it Dan Beaumont and bass and house siren Hannah Holland with a few simple words, eight of them simply stating “this one will be remembered as being important”.  This is a man who knows a thing or two about clubs, and the trio’s four hour mix is a truly special ensemble of boot shaking house grooves.

Kydus, Midland + more reviewed on DMC

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I’ve had a glut of reviews published over on DMC, a bit later than when I originally wrote them due to some email issues. Click on the links below for them

MIDLAND ‘FINAL CREDITS / VIGILANTE’ (REGRADED) 5/5

KYDUS ‘MOMENTUM’ (UNI) 5/5

SAME FREQUENCY ‘SAME DIFFERENCE’ EP (LOVECRIMES) 3/5

 

DJ Love: Laurent Garnier (article on Skiddle)

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I’ve loved Laurent Garnier as a DJ for most of my adult life, experiencing a life changing set of his a few weeks after my 20th birthday in Jan 2002. The 18 months prior to it I’d been absorbing clubbing to the intense levels anyone does when they’re faced with an abundance of temptation they’ve never had, and after a hectic NYE I’d vowed abstinence from a certain raving fuel. The Cream reopening, with Pete Tong and prog house tyrant of the time Lucien Foort playing the courtyard, was the first test of an ardent hedonist who devoured a plethora of trance and hard dance.

Lucien and Pete were average that night, but it was the man int he Annexe who had only pricked up a small amount of curiosity prior that blew me away. I didn’t even drink, sucked up by the vortex of his otherworldly brilliance. It proved to me I didn’t need to be peeling my face off the wall to enjoy partying, and that this dance music thing had longevity beyond my weekend escapism.

Anyway, suffice to say the abstinence lasted barely a few months but the musical shift had throughly started. It’s the starting point for an article I’ve wrote on Skiddle called DJ Love: Laurent Garnier which highlights a few of my experiences with my favourite DJ of all time over the years. I’ve not referenced the actual review, what with it coming from a competitor of ours at Skiddle in Pulse, but the night he played all night at the WHP looms large. It’s also the last time I saw Garnier, a near four year absence which I’m frantically trying to put right now.

Ropy Ayers ‘Everybody loves the Sunshine’

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“The whole thing sits in this woozy netherworld where jazz, funk and soul collide, never really fitting any of the standard troupes for each and all the better for it.”

Every time the man behind the best vibes in music, in every sense, comes back to the UK we usually bring back my article on Skiddle about his breakthrough UK releases. I am of course talking about Roy Ayers, and the jazz musician heads to Nottingham’s Southbank on Sunday 24th July which, fingers crossed, will follow a day of “folks getting down in the sunshine”. Classic stuff.

Saying Goodbye to Nation

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“We’ll never see a club quite like this again, and in the interests of evolution and progress we probably don’t need one. But for one more time Nation was again the hot ticket, the ultimate Saturday night.”

Everyone has their first club they fall in love with. My first experience happened in with a hatrick of dalliances at lost Midlands club Mezzanine, and I even squeezed an appearance at Godskitchen which was an overall favourite during my two year love affair with trance and hard dance right at the start of my raving career. But no club gripped me quite like Cream did the first few times I spent there, as I arrived in Liverpool as a wide eyed teenager in Autumn 2000.

It was a weird time to be going to the club. Although those first few Saturdays spent in there in 2000 and early 2001 were mesmerising, the club’s music policy had moved away from the thunderous trance of recent times for a more progressive template, and it was starting to lose its lustre. I can remember working a shift with someone at my part time job who had poured scorn on me for going, saying “everyone in Liverpool got bored of necking tablets at Nation years ago” (newsflash, I don’t think people will ever get bored of necking anything in this city). But that first year of going it was still regularly packed, and fucking amazing week after week.

Cream’s drop off coincided with my own shifting musical tastes, and slowly the nights at Bugged Out! were more appealing. That said I was still proper shocked when it shut, this seemingly impregnable fortress of party time suddenly shutting despite me seeing a packed courtyard go nuts to a lengthy Mauro Picotto set only a few weeks before the announcement. the news was everywhere, across uni it was all a lot of people were talking about, either smirking indie wankers or die hard ravers. Little did they both know they’d be raving together within a year once the 2ManyDJs effect took a hold…

Saturday 17th October I got to relive that magic (read my Skiddle review of the Cream finale event), and it was literally amazing. The venue was the same sweaty, creaky and dark warehouse it always was, once again bossed by supreme sound, fantastic DJs and a superb crowd, albeit one that was well older than it was back in the day. Seb Fontaine stole the show for me, but listening to Paul Oakenfold crank out the classics was still utterly joyous, and the whole thing was pretty much perfect start to finish.

As sad as it made me, and even more so looking back these past few days, Saturday was a really special and lucky thing for everyone involved. My love affair with Cream was one of a few truly special life affirming moments in dance music, from the way electroclash tore the rulebook up a few years later to being part of a partying family around my own small clubnight a few years later. I’ve tasted Balearic heaven a few times and overseas raves too, but very few of these are things that can ever be repeated, particularly with enough of the people that made it special – my own personal friends form the Cream era were sadly not there at the weekend.

But so many people got the chance to relive an experience so special just one more time. They’ve got another bite of the cherry on Boxing Day as well. Just like clubs like Cream don’t come along that often in our lifetime, neither too do these gilt edged gifts. Everyone grows up and moves on but these fleeting opportunities need to be grasped; I’m just glad I got the chance again.

 

Craig David’s Born to Do it

Historically I’d never been that much of a fan of Craig David beyond his singles. I’ve always been hugely into turn of the century R&B and the Artful Dodger’s pop garage vibes but the two meeting didn’t appeal that much, but I revisited his debut album for Skiddle.

It’s much better than I remember, and has aged remarkably well – making his revival all the more well timed. The man himself even started following me on twitter as a consequence of it – re-result.

Read the Skiddle article here.

BIGGIE SMALLS: THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

A fantastic kickstarter campaign has just started to publish some unseen photos of Biggie Smalls as part of an exhibition. The photos were took by a then aspiring photographer David Mcintyre for Interview Magazine, with the negatives lost up until recently (full story on the video below). They’ve since been found, but David has eschewed the usual push up on social media for exposure route to put them on in an exhibition, but after encountering a lack of funding took to the good old internet to get it.  Fund the campaign here.

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You can read what I thought about BIG’s classic debut Ready To Die, the album these photos originally promoted, here.

New reviews on DMC

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Here’s a round up of some of the reviews I’ve done on DMC in the past few weeks

Maurice Aymard & Sasse Backwards EP

Dave Seaman – ‘Justified Replacement of Lulu’ – (Remixes)

Kendrick Lamar and Rapsody ’27 bars of Genius’ (Getintothis article)

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To Pimp a Butterly is rapidly becoming the most discussed album of the year, Kendrick Lamar’s mammoth opus igniting the literary love from all corners. I’ve absolutely loved it to death (you can vist my review here) but the early release did stunt me a little from a writing perspective. I’d penned close to 1500 words of a eulogy to Lamar for Getintothis about whether he could follow on from good kid MAADD CITY which I was due to polish into a final article the week commencing only to get a etxt saying the album was out early on Spotify. As I excitedly listened to the brilliant new album part of me was proper gutted that this meant the end for my words, which it turned out, were prophetic. Only me and my laptop knew this though…

Even though some of that went into the review I wrote, I still felt like I needed to really shine a light on a different component of the album, and the more and more I listened to it the more and more I was drawn to Rapsody’s verse. It was so beguiling because it was understated dopeness, not the instant standout verse on the album but still one that just became more and more interesting the more I listened to it, one of the many layers and textures to the release that had still not been truly picked up (to my knowledge at least) by critics.

So I started writing about it, and mindful of already missing out on getting my point across I tried to come at a different angle as possible. It’s weird really that I could wrench 2000 words about a single verse on an album so jam packed full of ideas, but everything from the lyrics up to the decision to even enlist her spoke volumes about the concept of the LP and how it fits in the lexicon of great hip hop releases. The fact a woman was the only person who properly guest rapped on the album differs from hip hop; every solo guest of real punch has always been a man, which says so much about the dominance of men in the genre despite a plethora of great female rappers.

The reception was by far and away the best I’ve ever had for an article, 9th Wonder retweeting it on a  few occasions, Rapsody herself tweeting at me saying she was honoured (below) and sharing on her Facebook (above). It’s also something I’ve not seen mentioned elsewhere, although once I’d written the piece I read this interview on Complex where she talked about how a lot of the thematic similarities were a coincidence. Normally that kind of assertion reaks of bullshit but I thoroughly believe her, and it blows my mind about the verse even more.

Read the piece here.

 

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