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?


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