linkthink re: hip-hop, reggae, the US, jamaica, and anything else wayne wants to wax on


watch how the people versioning

when he's not sending me links to the latest debates in the gleaner, or doing prison-based social work down under, pete murder tone is building some wicked riddims.

employing the latest digital music-making technology but retaining the tried-and-true real-time mixing techniques of dub reggae, pete's been posting some choice cuts over at versionist.com, one of the better online creative/collaborative music-exchange sites i've come across. versionist makes it easy to upload one's creations and to listen to others' works, and it fosters some nice constructive criticism as well as, on the forum, some occasionally heated debates, especially those involving a certain boston jerk. i'm glad to see this thing up and running, and blossoming. it will surely lead to some great music, and a recently posted collabo proves that the site is already bearing fruit.

back in mid-november, pete posted a riddim called forever jammy$, in a nod to producer king jammy, one of the great innovators of the mid/late-80s, post-sleng-teng, "digital" dancehall sound. (i should note, however, to clear the distance between homage and xerox [and this is definitely a case of the former], pete is wisely re-titling the riddim "forever '89"). a deft revival of the late 80s sound, complete with sparse, crunchy keys, bubbly snares, and a chintzy clave (not to mention some occasional delay and reverb for a lil' dub vibe), pete's riddim is spot-on. his track-long mix transforms a simple loop into a suggestive song-form, subtly shifting layers like a true reggae maxi-minimalist. with its strong reception in the versionist community, pete's track caught the ear of london-based producer kris of psalms 1 sound, who decided to voice none other than mikey murka, old-school-UK deejay and singer, pon the riddim.

mikey murka came to my attention last year when i picked up the solid compilation, watch how the people dancing, which documents the unity sound from late 80s london and features a number of BIG chunes by mr. murka. i couldn't resist picking up the comp, as it held the tantalizing promise of "spotlighting the late 80s transition in London's reggae scene when electronic and hip hop elements first appeard which would later spark the ragga, breakbeat, and jungle music movements." and though i don't contest that claim--at least one of the tracks, for instance, features demon rockers of ragga twins fame--i don't really hear hip-hop or electronic/rave elements in these sounds. mostly, i hear wayne smith's/king jammy's sleng teng. which is fine. i love that low-tech, early "digital" sound, complete with the beeping casio click track. and as the various riddims on this comp show, it's a flexible flex. (incidentally, the comp features nuff versions, too, usually following the voiced tune. definitely pick this one up to hear how london's reggae artists picked up and ran with the casio-reggae sound.)

anyway, pete clearly captured this vibe, and his tuff track inspired mikey to record a nice lovers tune, beside you (<--click here to listen; i'm told that this is a short mp3-version of the tune, and the full version will be ready soon). i hear that mikey came up with the vocal pretty much ad hoc, real dancehall style. off-the-top lover's rock, you-see-me?

considering the recent and not-so-recent success of other unity artists--e.g., the ragga twins, navigator, peter bouncer, selah collins and errol bellot--it's good to hear mikey murka back on the mic. keep the version dem coming, y'ear?


ho ho ho, yo

i've always had a soft spot for christmas music, though i can only stand it from thanksgiving to christmas--no exceptions. there are some real classics in this repertory, and my favorites are pretty predictable (esp. according to my middle-class, 3rd-gen-american bakground): nat king cole, frank sinatra, vince guaraldi, elvis, johnny mathis, bing crosby, and various novelties and oddities (especially this one)--more or less in that order.

i've been itching to remix this christmas canon for a while now, but this year just wasn't the year for a wayne&wax x-mas album. still, i want to share a few variations (both novel and odd) that i produced on the ol' jingle bells theme last year. hope you enjoy:

reggae bells
techno bells
bagpipe bells
ringtone bells

a sexy christmas to all! and to all a good night!


mo' no no ho mo

more words in the gleaner, and online, over reggae's hot-button issue:

columnist john maxwell drops some un-common sense, at least for jamaican public discourse, including the charge that "Religion has become THE growth industry in Jamaica." ot stuff.

and frankie paul admits to crack-smoking but not battyman-behavior. not that i don't believe him or anything, but it's interesting where the stigmas stick.

also, raggacore.com weighs in on the issue with an FAQ.

(thanks again to peter m.)


wo oh oh, the israelites (for real)

watch out yid vicious, hasidic new wave, and, my favorite, naftule's dream:
there's a hipper heeb in town.

making a connection between rasta and israel that even desmond dekker couldn't top is the remarkably agile lubovitch DJ, matisyahu (<--click here to watch a video clip). you have to see the man in performance to believe it. real righteous, you-see-me? and check out that flip-tongue stylee. what a raggamensch. who knew?

representing jamaica, israel, and, of course, white plains.

shalom, seen?


blogcore! you know the score

two of my favorite junglist-eclecticist sonic-theorists recently started blogs of their own:

kid kameleon, who not only drops heavy records but also heavy drum'n'bass history, promises to regale us with hot links and musical musings. he's off to a good start with a double-download megamix, created for tigerbeat6/shockout, from across the dub/dancehall/ragga-jungle/totally-weird-shit-that-works spectrum. spanning 91 tracks in over 94 minutes, kid k connects all kinds of dots. (and throws in yours truly's "a it dat" [the DJ C mix, of course] to boot.) here's to future dots, thoughts, and shocks.

and dj /rupture, who's special gunpowder i've been pumping on-the-regular, joins the fray with his barcelona-based, globe-trotting perspective. i've been enjoying /rupture's ecumenical-political, gold-teef-tiefin', mine-swept sweets for a minute, so i'll definitely be checking to see what kind of musical-textual mash-ups jace has in store for the blogosphere massive.


the counteraction continues

a well-written, well-reasoned piece arguing against jamaican homophobia appeared in the gleaner yesterday. (thx again to pete m., faithful troller of jamaican media, for the link)

in a similar vein: a killer post about killer cam.


mashup the 11th

(listen to mashup the 11th.)

despite ringing like a facile cliche, i decided to go with "mashup the 11th" for the title of this post and this track because it's such a multivalent phrase. of course, it refers most obviously to my creation of a "mash-up" (i.e., a track juxtaposing fairly long samples from other tracks--but you knew that already) that takes as its source materials various tracks that address the subject of 9/11. in this case all of the tracks happen to be from reggae/hip-hop sources (surprise, surprise): elephant man's the bombing and the martial arts riddim that it rides, aesop rock's ny electric, mr. lif's home of the brave, and immortal technique's righteous 911 freestyle.

so in a simple sense i'm mashing up the 11th in that i'm mashing up these songs. but, with its reproduction of bush's maddening quasi-biblical rendering (in order to secretly communicate--wink,wink--with all you religious crazies out there) of "september THE eleventh" (where does the the come from anyway? the king james bible?), "mashup the 11th" also refers to the way that bush, et al., mashed-up the 11th by responding in such a terrible way--a point underscored by 9/11 widows having to protest to get some forward movement on the 9/11 commission's recommendations. (and let's not forget that bush opposed the commission's creation and then appointed henry "warcrimes" kissinger to head it.) the bush response to the 11th has played right into bin laden's hands, creating a boon for al qaeda recruitment, while the indefinite, unwinnable "war on terror" promises to fail as profoundly as the "war on drugs" has, but not before it reduces civil liberties to soviet proportions and brings down the US economy (which was precisely bin laden's aim).

i was inspired to create this track, first and foremost, by immortal technique's freestyle (which, obviously, isn't really a freestyle--more like an acapella rant [note his hype-man finishing lines, for instance]). immortal technique drops crazy knowledge on this track, kicking ass and naming names. there is an intensity in his voice that communicates the urgency of his critique. rhyming "cellphone" with "wellstone" and dropping michael-moore conspiracy theory, technique fleshes out the details that lurk behind more populist, hip-hop-propelled accusations such as fellow rapper jadakiss's "bush knocked down the towers." no surprise that immortal technique employed the jada quote in a second topical track, the banger bin laden, with mos def (which puts eminem's mosh to shame on the same damn mixtape). beyond dropping more (counter)knowledge, technique goes so far as to express solidarity with iraqi insurgents: bin laden didn't blow up the projects, but bush leveled falluja. immortal technique feels more solidarity with those who defend their homes in iraq than with southern american racists who use new york's loss to justify their jingoism.

making the 'freestyle' work against steady beats was a bit of a challenge. because the original performance was done live, the lines don't necessarily follow a steady meter. often the second half of a rhyming couplet is stretched out for effect, which makes it hard to simply squish it into a bar. i've done my best to "warp" the vocals so that they fit the beats, but sometimes this means forsaking a certain flow in favor of making words audible and rhymes land on strong beats. i think it works, though it does occasionally mean that technique floats over the meter in a way that his original performance does not. (but what would be the purpose of reproducing the original anyway?) for most of the song, the martial arts riddim occupies the left-center, while a scratch-filled loop from aesop rock's sinewy "ny electric" (which seems to ask: what says "new york" like orientalist dancehall?) moves in and out of the right-center of the stereofield. i chopped up the drums from mr. lif's "home of the brave" (which, curiously, also employs a dancehall rhythm) to give the track some center-field punch, and i occasionally add a big 808 kick on the downbeat just to keep things crunk. in the midst of all of this, i add some sirens here and there and chop up the loops from time to time to create some variety. (listen to mashup the 11th.)

this piece complements my previous political mash-up, it's bigger than whitey on the moon, and i plan to include them both on an upcoming mix that includes a remake of my track america (<--this version's now a couple years old). as i said in a previous post, artists don't want to be restricted to making topical shit, but we will if we have to.

so, anyway, i hope that what i've done here is simply to create another compelling way to listen to immortal technique's well-informed critique and righteous indignation. the original stands on its own, but i couldn't resist juxtaposing all of these powerful responses together. although i find the guy to be a bit over the top on certain tracks, these topical knowledge-droppable efforts deserve to be heard. for real, immortal technique is not fooling around. several interviews i've read with him recently demonstrate this. check out what he has to say about the military and religion as forms of colonial control, not to mention the struggle for political direction in the latino community, which, contrary to all the condi-rice incrementalists out there, does not put a good foot forward in alberto gonzales.

just a lil' laptop agitprop, knamean? thanks for listening. and big up to all the artists who inspired this remix: immortal technique, ele and king of kings (aka, scatta and eva), aes rock, and mr. lif. keep up the pressure.


public venting assistance

the following screed comes from a friend who wishes, ambivalently, to remain semi-anonymous. for sharing his heat and light with regards to what will surely be an under-reported and under-analyzed event, i want to thank to alex, who, in his own words, doesn't want to be a brave American Jew just for questioning the absolute rectitude of the Israelis and absolute evil of the Palestinians, or a bad American or Jew for questioning the ways in which we (Americans, Israelis, Jews) respond to all of those we brand "terrorists."

here's alex's email:

Excuse me, but I need to vent for a moment, and have selected you as the
recipients. Please forgive me. Don't know if you have seen this story in
the news today, but it has rather upset me, and I think it deserves some
discussion (and denunciation):

Judge Awards $156 Million in Terror Death
A federal magistrate judge on Wednesday ordered three Islamic charities
and a man accused of raising money for the Palestinian militant group
Hamas to pay $156 million to the parents of an American teenager killed
eight years ago by terrorists in the West Bank.

(Here's another article on this.)

So, where to start? There are the obvious absurdities of the U.S. legal
system going on here (didn't the Republicans say something about
excessive damages awards?), and of our litigious society, and people's
voracious desire for someone to be punished, for some vengeance, in
response to a surely senseless death (much could be said here about our
use of money, and court decisions, as subsitutes for meaningful societal
means of dealing with death, lack of ritual, allowance for mourning,

But what truly upsets me is the arrogance, American arrogance, on
display here, and the double-standard, the unfair treatment, in U.S.
Middle East Policy. I think almost anyone should find this decision
offensive, no matter which side of the conflict one lines up on.

Why should the parents of one American boy, killed 8 years ago, be awarded
$156 million, when so many others, Israeli, Palesitinian, many other
nationalities, have died over the years? Is not this monetary award
to two American parents somewhat insulting to all the thousands of
others who have lost their lives, and received nothing like this?
From an Israeli, or pro-Israel, perspective, what about all the Israeli
citizens and soldiers? Why the American special treatment? What about
all of the other Israeli parents, who aren't so lucky as to have U.S.
citizenship (the Boim's are U.S. citizens who live in Israel, and have for

What of all of the aid-workers, journalists, activists, U.N. employees,
and other internationals who have been killed over the years of the

Moreover, what of all of the innocent Palestinian's who have died?
Should not the U.S. government, the major backer of the Israeli military,
be equally responsible in a U.S. court for financial damages to the
parents of some Palesitinian-American killed in the West Bank by stray (or
not so stray) Israeli bullets or missiles? Who is compensating the
Palestinians? And who holding the U.S. accountable for funding the
massive military operations of the Israeli government?

Then, of course, there's the whole issue of Hamas, as the major public
works and charity organization in the occupied territories, which also has
a prominent military wing. We prosecute groups for giving money to Hamas
because of their military activities, but also end up prosecuting
people for giving money to a group that provides basic services to
thousands of Palestinians who have almost no public resources, no economy,
no hope. No other aid organization is as effective, or as widespread, or
as popular in the territories as Hamas. Should we fault people for
wanting to give aid to the most effective aid organization trying to help
Palestinians? Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to excuse Hamas'
terrorist activities, just to say that it's not clear-cut that the U.S.
charities involved had malicious intent to destroy the state of Israel,
wanted to support terrorist activities by giving money to Hamas. Does
everyone who gives money to the State of Israel want to fund operations in
Nablus and Rafah?

Can we sue an average citizen for paying taxes to the U.S. Govt, thereby
supporting an organization which has been directly responsible over the
years for thousands of innocent deaths, including assasinations, rocket
attacks, etc.?

The precedent here is troubling, to say the least, and the whole thing
disgusting, on so many levels. The defense lawyer refused to take part in
the trail, claiming he did not have enough time to prepare a defense.

At least, this may not be over, as the family's lawyer expects the case to
make it to the Supreme Court. That could be interesting.

Anyway, this was just troubling me, I couldn't get it off my mind, so I
thought I'd share with some other smart folks and see if any of you had
different thoughts (or similar). Please pardon my venting, and rambling.
I should get a blog.

yes, alex, you should.


broken dollar dreams

been daydreaming recently about a possible ironic outcome of bush and his cronies' plan to fill their coffers through war-machine global dominance and domestic tax policies that essentially amount to looting.

maybe, just maybe, if the dollar crashes and the global economy with it, these neocons will bring about their own worst fear and shoot capitalism in the foot.

i don't think any of us know what would happen if the world economy crashed. i mean, i guess dick cheney would still have his land in wyoming and plenty of secret servicemen to guard it, but would he still be rich? (which raises another question: does anybody know whether any of these goons is converting their wealth to chinese treasury bonds?)

anyway, i know it's implausible. but a boy can dream, can't he?


post package picture prickly prickly perfect

props to boomkat for having the gall to put a bomb on their mailing label and for shipping the new lenka clayton record over the atlantic to me in what seems like record time.

i'm happy that it arrived just in time for my gig at river gods tonight. i plan to let it spin while i mix a bunch of dub, jungle, and out-there techno. i'm trading sets with theorist of everything ben walker this evening. should be fun. come catch us from 9-1.

more upcoming events here.


comforting or worrisome?

as a youngun who grew up under reagan and didn't really grasp the problems of the day, i can't tell whether to be comforted or worried by the recurring perception that this latest grave political turn--symbolized best by the re-election of dubya--is nothing new.

last week while watching the stellar series angels in america, i was struck by the despondent mid-80s new yorkers who couldn't believe reagan had been elected to a second term and who were scared by prophecies of a "republican lock" on the government. their gloom has proven to be somewhat premature, which gives me hope. (of course, if you think that clinton may as well be a republican with his welfare-cutting, retard-executing, centrist bullshit, then you may not be so comforted.)

in a piece in this week's voice, i saw the same observation made again, this time harking back to an earlier era: "The '70s has provided ample amounts of gritty chic and ironic glamour to '00s pop culture: Witness the big-screen resurrections of Charlie's Angels and Starsky & Hutch, hairstyles largely intact. But independent filmmakers are digging past gags to investigate the politics of a bygone America that looks increasingly like our own, complete with Middle East conflicts, massive protests, political terrorism, and the re-election of a Republican president during a messy, morally questionable war."

sounds terribly familiar. and yet, that time passed too. but i can't decide whether i should be hopeful that the country can indeed swing back in the other direction or haunted by the nietzschean eternal recurrence of it all. especially when the "swings" in my direction are, like a slowing pendulum, ever closer to the "center." it seems likely that bush will fuck things up so badly that the deep problems of his approach will become obvious. of course, i thought that shit was obvious already.