It was only a matter of time before it happened: the first correction to the talks I’ve been giving on the ABBC subject/idea. From the beginning I was always keen to underline that the talks were essentially a work in progress, having been born out of a rather spontaneous decision to revisit the subject with words instead of music and also because it is such a vast subject that unless I lock myself away and work on it for months on end I can’t quite account for everything I might have missed, omitted and so on. Plus I just don’t feel like it would be as much fun if it wasn’t a work in progress. There’s only so much you can fit into a standardised narrative structure, where as doing this as a work in progress with the internet and this blog as my notebook is much more interesting to me, the way thoughts can be revisited, added to and even sometimes changed or picked up again.
So anyways the first correction. This applies to the first few versions of the talk I gave – London in October, Berlin in January and Limerick in February. In that version of the talk (let’s call it 1.0) I have a slide and section on London and what I argue was a lack of any solid scene in the city around the whole beats revival circa 06-09. There’s actually two sides to the London story in that version of the talk. One is that while London put forward interesting and influential producers within boom bap’s evolution – e.g. Paul White, Bullion – the city doesn’t act as a focal point for the then growing ‘scene’ as L.A does in the US or Montreal does in Canada. In fact in the UK the focal point ends up being much more on Glasgow – via the LuckyMe collective – is the argument I put forward. Despite this London has a scene of sorts, just one that isn’t as obvious as in those other cities. I also put forward the case that CDR – the Plastic People night where producers can come and air/hear their work on the legendary system – acts as a sort of focal point, a la Sketchbook in L.A though it’s not all hip hop and more varied. The second argument I make for London’s importance in boom bap’s evolution is the crossing over of the two nuums I mentioned here which includes Kode 9, Flying Lotus and Loefah among others. More on that particular point soon as well, there’s plenty new ideas and things I want to explore further on that specific point.
Back to the first point and this idea that London didn’t really have a ‘cohesive’ scene around the beats revival in the mid to late 00s. I originally came up with said point/argument primarily because I was actually out of London for most of that time. I was living in Japan (and Italy for a bit of it) so I experienced what happened in London between 06-08 at a distance, talking to friends, browsing the internet, reading/talking on forums etc… When I returned in 09 I caught the tail end of it, and it’s only recently that I’ve actually properly started thinking about what actually happened in London at that time and its importance. I’m hoping to do a few chats with some people in the near future to add to it. So my bias was essentially one of not having been involved in what was happening at the time.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been dutifully reminded that CDR was actually not the only focal point for the ‘scene’ in London, and in fact it could be argued was only one of three main physical focal points in the form of club nights. The first one I was reminded of by Jim was Deviation: Benji B’s long standing London club night which was originally tied to his BBC 1xtra radio show of the same name where he featured many of the artists that would become pivotal in the latter parts of the decade my talk focuses on, especially people like Flying Lotus whose rise to fame in 07/08 led to the proper coalescence of a ‘scene’ around boom bap’s evolutions. Deviation acted as a focal point in London by not only bringing to the stage/DJ booth influential acts – some still bubbling and others already established – but also by giving many of the producers and artists who were living in and around London a place to hang out, meet, share ideas and experience the music together. Much like CDR but without the ‘play and hear your own tunes bit’, or at least for some anyways. The Deviation night started in late 07 and with the talk being based on the idea of boom bap’s evolution from 99 to 09 I’d say that it definitely had a good two solid years as an important influential and focal point in London.
Deviation’s omission from my first few talks is a pretty big mistake as with both his night and radio show – and his subsequent move to BBC Radio 1 in place of Mary Ann Hobbs – Benji B has actually been quite a key figure in the evolution of boom bap and hip hop’s various production aesthetics in the UK. Being a DJ first and foremost I guess I probably omitted him more because I focused a lot on producers and labels in the first few months of research/thinking. Not only did he push a lot of the producers and styles that form part of boom bap’s evolution as I see it with his radio show and nights, he’s also influential in that he’s always married these selection with the UK’s – and London’s – own dance music mutations, such as dubstep and UK Funky. So yeah my hand is up on that one.
The second omission I was reminded of by chatting with Kelpe at the weekend before we headed to the Earnest Endeavours launch party for Kutmah’s Brownswood compilation, Worldwide Family vol.2. As we got talking about the guys behind Earnest Endeavours – the Patchwork Pirates, a trio of London DJs, promoters and overall multifaceted music peoples – we reminisced about their first set of parties under the name Thugs N Hugs which occurred around 08-09 in London’s Shoreditch area. And that’s when I realised that actually Thugs N Hugs was another one of those focal points at the time, with the Patchwork Pirates bringing to London a party that was linked to and in line with what people like L.E.T in L.A., Turbocrunk in Montreal and LuckyMe in Glasgow were doing – all three of which Patchwork Pirates are/were affiliated or working with in some shape or form. Many of the artists who played those parties in L.A, Glasgow and Montreal were brought to London to play Thugs N Hugs. They put on people like Fulgeance, Hovatron, Lazersword, Nosaj Thing and more at a time when there wasn’t really anyone else in London giving these artists a stage to showcase their music.
So a sorry to the Patchwork Pirates guys too for the omission. It’s also even more timely I should make this correction considering that their recent rebirth as Earnest Endeavours – which acts as a label, night and collective – is a direct continuation of what they started with Thugs N Hugs and is starting to be a really interesting place in London. In fact I think that what they’re doing now with EE is once more crossing over with what’s been happening in places like L.A since 08/09 to the present and it also ties into an idea that Kode 9 brought up in our recent chat and which I’ll delve into more detail soon.
So there you have it. A bit of a long winded correction but one that was definitely needed. I’ll be updating the talk accordingly for the next time I do it and I’ll be speaking to some of those guys too to get a bit of additional input into how things came together, why etc…