by Will Dunn (aka StrangeFlow, aka 5ifty$ix K)
I went to Mac’s Bar the other night. It’s a club in Lansing, Michigan. I hadn’t been there in about a year, as I was living on the West Coast until very recently. Anyway, on Tuesdays they have a night called, ‘Neon,’ or ‘EDM Night,’ or something like that – I can never quite remember the name. The point is, there was a much different vibe there than the vibe (or… lack of ‘vibe’) that was present a year or so ago. What I mean is, dubstep has died down considerably, and I no longer the blatant and over-the-top display of gratuitously aggressive male energy in the club, or saw bro-off’s in the parking lot after the show ( I seriously saw two crowds of bro’s in the parking lot, fighting over which side of Lansing was the best: East Lansing or South Lansing; at which point, one of the dudes from East Lansing rolled up his pant leg, revealing a ‘517’ tattoo, screaming, “5-1-7 till I die, nigga!” … I think it’s also relevant to point out that everyone involved in that skirmish was White… Yea… Bro’s… Definitely high class people.)
When raves were made effectively illegal in so many places, the electronic music started to invade the clubs. A natural progression. Then, dubstep came in. With relative ease, it was easy for the cast of the Jersey Shore to witness electronic music, in all it’s glory. Or, at least, to witness some good ol’ brostep. Brostep served to the mainstream what rock music hasn’t been able to for years; namely: a new and hardcore sound and energy, a feeling of rebellion, something cutting edge to kill your speakers and subwoofers with. Come on, at least for a little while, that shit was fun.
I’m sure there are still some of these type of “5-1-7 till I Die,” losers going to strictly-“EDM” nights and indoor/above-ground-“rave”-ish affairs, but I think it’s already peaked. Plus, dubstep seemed to be replaced with trap, more or less. And I’ll tell you something: no matter how boring and uninterested I get with trap after 20 minutes, if it killed brostep, it’s a motherfucking hero, and I promise to not bitch about trap music as much as
I could. For awhile.
But I, for one, love hip hop; I’ve seen electronic music and hip hop come together again and again, about once every decade or so. Kind of at the same rate of how often recessions hit; at least once every ten years or so… (I would argue, though, that hip hop and electronic music fusing together is more like the OPPOSITE of a recession)… Now, some folks are trying to push the trap/electronic beats into juke and footwork. And some (myself included) are trying to push that into footwork jungle (or jungle-footwork) which is basically a combination of juke/footwork with jungle/drum’n’bass.
It’s a winning combination, and I have more than an inclination that it could happen soon.
The 90s are coming back – music, fashion, art, and before you know it, probably in a lot of other ways, too. And I say, “AWESOME!” Why? Because I grew up in the 90s, for one thing… I love a lot of the aesthetics of that time period, culturally. Also, though, I’m really fucking sick of the 80s flashback nonsense. REALLY fucking sick of it. Nothing irks me more than a band that comes out with a new song and it sounds like some real 1982-style shit. Now? Now that the flashback’s over, NOW you want to rehash that sound? And you think it’s ‘hip’ or something? My goodness, could you be even less hip? (not a sin by itself, mind you – being ‘less hip,’ can sometimes be quite noble – but re-rehashing the 80s? No, no, no, no, no; please, no.)
Some people think it’s lazy to rehash parts of the 90s, as if recycling trends from a generation or so ago is some psycho post-modern / arbitrarily fashionable and lazy hipster bullshit. Well, that’s one school of thought… Actually, though, it’s nothing new. Recycling an older trend makes sense from a couple of different perspectives; for one thing, it reflects the aesthetics that an entire generation grew up with and became quite comfortable with – going back to that, a couple decades later, can be therapeutic. For another thing, fashion designers and higher ups in the record industry (and everyone else with too much cultural power) understand that this is how people feel about the culture they grew up in, and they know it’ll catch with relative ease, and they exploit that, for better or worse. And, if you need a third reason, it’s tradition: the process just described has been going on for centuries, not just decades. It’s nothing new, really.
But it’s not always strictly corporate. In fact, when I talk about 90s-influenced jungle mixing with footwork and trap music, there’s a bit of the past AND a bit of the future mixed together, and it’s very organically growing into the rave scene, thanks to many prolific and well-meaning producers and promoters who love that sound. And it’s not just the footwork jungle with its ‘retro’-fast breakbeats and 90s acid house high-pitched midi-sounding chord samples taken from a 2 Bad Mice track, there are all sorts of other sounds and ideas from a couple decades ago that are creeping back. What about the chopped an’ screwed sounds penetrating the walls of house music? Again, hip hop meets electronic, and in a very new – and yet, somehow quite retro – way.
So what about Peace, Love, Unity & Respect? The brostep thing has died down a little bit, the loudness wars, arguably, are still being waged, though in a slightly different type of way (again, I can’t say too much against trap, as it did help kill brostep) but trap is slowly starting to fade, as well. A return to an older and more authentic club-kid vibe, might be well on it’s way.
Like the sonic mixtures of old and new in music, now is the time to promote the old ideals of rave culture, whilst at the same time updating them to the present. Young people today are WAY more informed, involved, and engaged with what’s going on in the world today – and with the internet (the most important invention since the printing press) information and ideas can travel faster than ever before in human history.
Peace, love, unity, and respect can travel along the information superhighway (a phrase that, if you’re still using, you’re probably NOT on the ‘information superhighway’) and affect millions of people, instantly. I don’t want to be lame and call it PLUR 2.0, because that phrase sounds kind of lame… But the point is, ours can be a generation that wages peace and love, tolerance and oneness, relevance and education – and yet still rocks the ‘most hardcore-inest’ beats around, with cool 808 cowbells, lush cymbal hits, and obnoxiously high-pitched retro horn stabs that get EVERYONE dancing. Hells fuckin yea.
I guess, in all of this rant and its miscellaneous tangents and roundabout/eventual points, one thing’s for sure – I’m extremely excited about what’s to come in the next few years. It’s easy to get discouraged in a time like ours, with various stressers and misfortunes abound, but I’m hopeful. I want to stay informed, I want to stay engaged, and I want to stay hopeful.