Monday, January 14, 2008

BEAT CLASSIC: The Business of Being Born #1

From a critical point of view, one of the most interesting things about a technological change in a particular medium is the kind of free-for-all atmosphere that almost inevitably arises at the point of the change's inception. The rise of electronic music is a particularly good example of this. Electronic music didn't create new genres as much as it began to take apart the idea of what a genre is. When a really, truly new thing comes on the scene, it leaves in its wake a hundred other new things, paths or ideas that never made it all the way, like the slower-swimming sperm that never reach the egg. The Beat Classic compilation, curated by J Saul Kane, documents how, in the early 80s, during the now Edenicized period of hip-hop's infancy, there were really no rules about what hip-hop was or how it should be made. The result is a bunch of really weird songs that at times are just as much techno as they are rap, except that their electronic influence is not really reducible to the canonized Roland 808 streamlined breakdance/electro sound. It's much denser and at times more abstract than that - check out "Shout", which samples the Tears for Fears hit, and "Never Satisfied", which interpolates lyrics from the Stones. This comp changed my historical understanding of hip-hop's origins, and paints a messy, vital, diffuse portrait of the diverse energies behind every revolution.

1 B+ B-Beat Classic
2 Levi 167 Something Fresh To Swing To
3 Fantasy Three It's Your Rock
4 Rock Master Scott And The Dynamic Three It's Life
5 MC Craig G* Shout
6 Steady B Just Call Us Def
7 High Fidelity Three Never Satisfied
8 Disco Four Throwdown
9 Z-3 MC's Triple Threat
10 Ultramagnetic MC's Funky
11 Rammellzee Vs K-Rob Beat Bop


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