Thursday, 6 March 2008

DHHY (Do Hip Hop Yourself) and Icebergs

Once you scratch beneath the surface of what the media calls Hip Hop and Rap you begin to realise that the Soulja Boys and the Flo Ridas are only the tip of the iceberg. Scrap that, they aren’t even part of the same lump of frozen water. There’s a rap iceberg that floats into warmer climes, steadily melting and diminishing as it leaves the colder temperatures. These are today’s ‘hot’ rappers who after their five minutes of fame are in the bargain bin. Then there’s the iceberg that stays at its pole, it doesn’t leave its place of origin and as a result, it’s still an iceberg. These are rappers and crews who stay true to the roots. Unless we see a global warming effect in the Hip Hop world, a sudden mass interest in the real Hip Hop, then things will stay this way, and for the better.

Leaving behind our chilly metaphor now, one way rappers stay cool is by keeping busy. The D.I.Y ethic that was there at the beginning (the block parties, the luminary moves of Sylvia Robinson etc) is present more than ever in local Hip Hop scenes. Every true fan in any given place will be somehow involved in the music their area is making, it’s the real heads that make things happen against all odds. 3 projects have recently come to my attention that I would like to use as evidence for my case.

GTA are a two man crew from Oxford. I don’t know much about the scene there but I keep hearing snippets of information regarding it and it’s beginning to make me curious. Chima Anya of GTA contacted me himself to promote their latest track ‘Wanna Be Myself’. This independent release is accompanied by an independently made video that is entertaining despite it’s simplicity. With it’s sing-a-long hook and carefully crafted but jocular lyrics about individuality, this will go in my itunes playlist called ‘Favourite music of 2008’. Check the part of the video where Chima is rapping to the traffic off a motorway bridge; brilliant!

Beit Nun is a rapper from Macclesfield, who, with a D.I.Y attitude, has produced a very fine end product. He, like Chima, contacted me himself (putting in work, utilising the internet as a promotional tool) and offered to send me a copy of his latest CD which chronicles his best work from 2006 and 2007. The first thing that struck me was the excellent cover art; contemporary and professional. The production and recording is expertly done and Beit Nun and his myriad of guests are competent on the mic, both in delivery and content. This CD is a very polished creation and at only £5, you’d be silly to miss out on an opportunity to hear Hip Hop done North West style (check the accents). Go to his myspace and purchase.

My last piece of proof comes in the form of a many man crew from Dewsbury; Don’t Talk To Strangers. You’ll have heard mention of them before if you’re a regular here and that proves that they are not just one hit wonders when it comes to making an impression. At the latest instalment of Brutal Artistry’s ‘Get Cained (check them for more of that ‘want something doing right, do it yourself’ attitude) I got myself a copy of DTTS’s West Yorkshire mix CD AND their blue 10” vinyl release of their track ‘Disabled Blue’. The most impressive thing is that this independent release is on blue 10” vinyl; it instantly gives it that special something, it makes you want to own it. If this crew had been signed to a label this would never be the case, it would have been a 12” in a generic sleeve, or, just an mp3 download. It’s all about the presentation and the pleasure of ownership of something so beautiful and seemingly unique. The music is good too; excellent wordplay and clear delivery over soulful beats is the order of the day here.

I expected the mix CD to be slightly lacklustre; in my opinion it takes an exceptional artist to make a mix CD listenable. Thankfully, DTTS are a collective who know how not to overdo things and the CD is just excellent, I really mean it, it’s truly proof that the local scene with a D.I.Y. attitude can truly stand up to any big label music. Another positive is that it isn’t actually a mix CD, it’s just a compliation; track after track, no whack interludes and shout outs. With music from Eliphino (Leeds finest beat maestro), Spida Lee, J-Simple, Northern Property (Max from Dirty Diggers and another Yorkshireman) as well as various members and associates of the strong crew that is Don’t Talk To Strangers. Some of the tracks are slightly amateurish but the main dissapointment here is Asaviour's 'This Planet remix'; it's very badly mixed and for a rapper with a foot firmly in the door of UKHH it just doesn't have that quality aspect that most of the other tracks on the CD have. Despite that, wherever you represent, wherever your local scene is, check how we do. This is music to the ears of any rap fan.

So, if you are involved in Hip Hop, keep doing it for yourself sisters, if you aren't involved, get involved! Even being a fan is involvement!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It always feels good to get recognition, thanks for the props, really enjoyed the blog..
Peace n props..
J alpha