Tuesday, May 12, 2015

re-e-wind (to the days of New Labour)

FACT with the story that Chuka Umunnawho just announced his candidacy as the Labour Party's next leader,  used to be a UK garage DJ. 

And not only that, but a music journalist, writing for urban music magazine Touch.

Umunna - MP for Streatham and  Labour's Shadow Business Secretary - is standing as a back-to-Blairsics, nu-New Labour, business-friendly / pro-"aspiration" candidate.

 Much of the story originally comes from a piece in The Independent from 2011:

"I love my music. I used to DJ – strictly vinyl – but I haven't 'played out' for ages, which I'm sad about. I briefly had a regular residency in my constituency when I was training to be a solicitor, and at university I used to run a night. You grow up in an area like this and music is a major part of urban youth culture. I went through a phase in my teens when I was majorly into ragga. Then I moved on to jungle. (We didn't call it drum and bass in those days). Hip-hop and soul were constants; I was brought up on soul music. Then I found US house and UK garage in the mid-Nineties, before it became really big." 

"Then I moved on to jungle... Then I found... UK garage"...

 Potentially the first hardcore continuum Prime Minister! He's got my vote, for sure.

Nuum Labour!

(Although slightly alarmed by the detail in The Independent that he doesn't pronounce "garage" as "garridge" but "surprisingly he pronounces it the way you might expect the average MP to – with its second syllable rhyming with 'Farage', rather than, say, 'Beveridge'."

(Lovely touch that - Ukip versus the fellow who laid the groundwork for the Welfare State)

There is also some stuff from a DJ magazine interview by Carl Loben:

"When I first started going out with my friends and enjoying music I was right there at the beginning of the UK garage scene. The brilliant thing about it was that it was a fantastic fusion of all of London's different cultures — it was distinctly London, a very British sound.
"And what also appealed to me about it was that there was no element of us seeking to mimic what people were doing in the US — it was a very British sound, and it just completely captured my imagination.
“I first started writing about it on a freelance basis for Touch Magazine, which was the offshoot of Kiss FM. Then when I was at university, I bought some decks — they were very old skool decks, belt-driven.

"My favourite DJ was probably Karl 'Tuff Enuff' Brown... 
"Producer-wise, I liked a lot of MJ Cole's stuff, Todd Edwards, Grant Nelson..."
It sounds like Umunna didn't care much for 'garage rap' and definitely disliked like grime, so he switched his allegiance to US soulful house 'n garage (presumably why he pronounces it 'garaaaage' not garridge' :

"I felt it was a bit of a shame that everybody got greedy, and it got too aggressive, the whole garage scene, which is why I slightly fell out of love with it. We allowed the MCs to take over, and it went from being quite a kind of happy, uplifting vibe to something that was a bit more aggressive — that I didn’t like" 

That makes me reconsider my plans to vote for him, especially as not super sold on the Nu-NuLab, pro-enterpreneurial slant of his candidacy. 

Although that will play probably well with the UKG generation I should imagine, now entering middle age and quite possibly feeling wistful about the flash-the-cash prosperous Britain days of the first Tony B prime ministership.

The mix-race Umunna certainly looks pure UKG, or should that be impure UKG - he's a photogenic blend of Nigerian, English and Irish, and was raised in South London, the son of a small businessman.


Anonymous said...

This is just dying for a cultural theory essay on "the neo-liberal aesthetics of '90s UK Bass" lol!

iainm73 said...

"Nuuk Labour" - lov it!!