In 1998 Mo’ Wax issued an album by a Detroit artist called Urban Tribe. Titled ‘The Collapse of Modern Culture’ the album’s overall is prescient of what would happen over the coming decade between hip hop and electronic music.
I was first reminded of Collapse… by a friend earlier this year and upon listening to it properly for the first time I became obsessed with it for a while. There’s something in the music that incredibly well suited to just being in a city and then there’s also how it blurs the line between hip hop, house and techno in an almost effortless way. And being that I’m in Detroit for ten days it’s been on my mind again. That and the fact that I’m trying to arrange a chat with the man behind the music, DJ Stingray.
In the process of researching the forthcoming chat I came across this unedited transcript of Stingray’s talk to The Wire magazine in 2010. The in depth conversation covers the extent of Stingray’s career, including his work with Drexciya, and as luck would have it the Urban Tribe album. Alongside explaining the input of various Detroit techno pioneers to the album’s creation, Stingray talks on the music’s hybrid vibe and speed.
D: Let’s talk about the music of the Urban Tribe stuff. It’s often a slower tempo. Is that deliberate?
S: Yes, up until a certain point, it’s deliberate. My last two albums on Rephlex was an experiment, probably should have been DJ Stingray projects. But, yes, it was deliberate and that was the mentality that I had at the time, because at that time I was listening to a lot of rap, and a group called African Headcharge, produced by Adrian Sherwood. And I was listening to that, and a lot of slower Industrial stuff, so I was trying to capture that mood and hiphop and the same time, as well as infuse it with elements of electronic music. And you have a lot, in my opinion experimental stuff going on at the time, and drum n bass was pretty big as well. But I didn’t want to just ape that style, and I didn’t want to be just disrespectful and copy that style. So I tried to infuse a lot of elements, hiphop, industrial, that kind of thing, and even believe it or not R&B. Because I was going to a lot of strip clubs too.