Sunday, July 6, 2014

"just by DNA" - a nuumology masterclass from Elijah & Skilliam

In the current issue of The Wire, in the guise of the regular Invisible Jukebox feature, there's a nuumological masterclass from Butterz boyz Elijah and Skilliam.

First record played to them is Shut Up And Dance, "£20 To Get In", 1989:

Skilliam: Old school.

Elijah: Early 90s I presume.


[Suzanne Vega sample comes in]

Skilliam: Aghhhh! [Laughs in frustration]

Elijah: That sample... I've heard this a lot.

They're from East London.

Elijah: [Instantly] Shut Up And Dance. Serious One - our [Butterz club MC] host - his uncle is one of Shut Up And Dance. There's your connection.

Can you hear elements in this that carry right through to what you do?

Elijah: The voice, the English and Jamaican accents, that's intrinsic to grime and to living here, in East London. That's why I know Shut Up And Dance Music, just by DNA.

Skilliam: Yeah, it's always been just there.

Elijah: You don't need the ID.

Skilliam: It's music that you've grown up with.

Elijah: My sister, she's five years younger, she'll know a Wiley beat but won't be able to tell you it's "Igloo". Exactly the same with me and this.

This is pretty much the start of techno, hiphop and Jamaican music fusing into something very British.

Elijah: [Laughs] That's grime right there.

This exchange reminded me of an Invisible Jukebox with Goldie, probably 1995, and the Wire-man record-tester plays him  a Shut Up And Dance track -- might even have been the same track - and Goldie's response is a metaphor to do with a train. Something like SUAD, they're a carriage at the head of the train, right behind the engine - and me, I'm a carriage further down the line. And the train continues, more carriages will join after me.

Elijah & Skilliam also make some other sage comments during the course of the conversation, which runs from SUAD to Slackk via Ruff Sqwad, Apple and Kele Le Roc.

About outsiders and their takes on hardcore continuum styles. in response to being played Si Begg versus Hairy Butter's "Locked In Locked On", a pastiche of UK garage as it got grimy in the early 2000s, Elijah says:

I could tell it was outside of the culture. It's someone who's taken something and tried to tool it to what they're used to.

About the relationship between the continuum and styles of music outside it that have affinities and sometimes powerfully influence the nuum's development without ever being part of it:

Elijah: For us, radio was our context. If we listen to hiphop, we hear it outside the pirate radio infrastructure, that's one thing. But if we hear dancehall, jungle, garage, house or grime, it's all the same music really, there wasn't some epiphany in the change from one to another."

About the resilience of locality even after the rise of the IDM (Internet Dance Music):

Elijah: ... Some producers lack context. They don't have the experience of how that music works in a club, so they're just guessing. That's why the sick producers more or less come from London. They know how it works in this environment, whereas someone from New Zealand or wherever is watching Boiler Room and guessing. It's harder to pull it off, for the club environment anyway - not just for the creative side. On the creative side just do what you want! I can't think of someone from abroad that's actually had a smash, a club anthem, a track like [SX's] 'Wooo Riddim".

Elijah and Skilliam don't use the word "hardcore continuum" at any point in this conversation,  of course. It's quite likely they're unaware of it. But then  they don't need the concept;  they don't need a term. They live the ongoing reality of it, the decades-deep everyday fact of it.  For them, it's just common sense -  a sense common to a community that's several generations long at this point. (Those family connections, as with Serious One the MC being a SUAD nephew, aren't uncommon at all). It's simply what went down, what happened. The history of their world, parts 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. and counting.

I forgot to mention who conducted the Invisible Jukebox. 

It was Joe Muggs.

1 comment:

Jah Schmidt said...

Just knew that punchline was coming!
Gotta love JM though boy knows his tunes.