Friday, May 1, 2009

Do Me Wrong :: Roll Deep feat. Janee

I'm not one to look into the cultural histories of music. If a song has an interesting beat, or intriguing lyrics, then I'm in--which is why this song caught my attention. It's electronic backdrop mixed in with hip-hop/rap vocals was hot, but it also made me wonder. It turns out that Roll Deep is the poster child of what seems like the latest evolution in music: grime.

Grime is a UK based form of music that grew out of house and trance. Like house and trance, grime relies on electronic sounds, and synths. Unlike house an trance, however, grime has a lower and slower bass line and is popularly produced by London's hip-hop and rap scene.

Now what's striking is the re-appropriation of culture happening here. Kenyon Farrow writes that house music originated in underground scenes of urban black Americans in the '70's. But through the 90's, Russell Simmons, and the other godfathers of modern day hip-hop stripped house of the soul that it was so characterized with, and replaced that with the now popular sounds of rap: intensified beats, bass, and rhymes. That sound was picked up in Europe, which was then restripped and refitted with a crooning female vocalist, and electronic beats and synths, which is what we hear in today's U.S. gay clubs--a space often less visited by our black gay brothers and sisters.

Grime appears to be yet another fold within this history of music. Black rap and hip-hop artists seem to be reclaiming house music to create yet another vein of artistic innovation. Even more interesting is the way this sort of cross-pollination of culture and ideas has spanned across so many identities: from poor urban African Americans, to middle class gay white men, to Western Europeans--identities that have not always socially or politically aligned with each other. It's just so interesting that we can find pleasure in the luxury of music across groups of different people--people who often times hate each other. Well, I suppose that's a different post.

Anyway. I hope you enjoy the song!

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