You hear some people talking about how hip hop and electronic music are finally coming together. You hear other folks talk about how it was always this way, twenty or thirty years ago… And you hear even fewer folks talking about how hip hop is, fundamentally, a form of electronic music (though it went in a much different direction than the music that we consider to be ‘electronic,’ went in) but here’s something that you don’t hear people talking much about too much…
Prepare for a rant: hip hop is actually a form of trance music; I’ll explain why, now…
Back in the early 1980s (actually, it was the late 1970s…) there was a reformed gang leader, back from a trip from Africa, with lofty and inspiring ideas that certainly went on to help change the face of culture.
He organized hip hop blog parties where folks could hang out and enjoy some good rap music and dancing – and he also defined what hip hop was – a combination of graffiti, breakdancing, MCing, and DJing. It was all about positivity, as the organizer of this movement was trying to help give young kids in the ghetto an alternative to gang life. The man’s name was Afrika Bambaataa.
Now, if you would indulge me, I would like to explain how hip hop and trance music tie together so well…
There was a German band from the 70s, Kraftwerk, who dropped such trancey (…”trancey”..?) gems on the world as “Autobahn,” which goes on and on and on. Or, there’s “We Are the Robots,” which was another fun little number. Africa Bambaataa enjoyed the synthetic European trance pop sounds of the group, and decided to incorporate it into his own tunes, remixing Kraftwerk (and making the beats more interesting) as well as rapping over them, and by doing this, he helped in creating a new musical template.
He helped – though he was not the first to rap over a beat – but the trance link goes even deeper than just Afrika Babaataa sampling Kraftwerk – it goes MUCH deeper…
When DJs took the most danceable section of a disco/funk/r’n’b/pop tune and looped it, they were allowing for the ‘authenticity’ of that 4 second sound (including the tonality, the slightest amounts of reverb, the ‘organic’ variations of melodic and rhythmic quantifications – not to mention any scratches or imperfections in the vinyl recording) to be repeated, over and over… and over and over and over, creating a trance-like groove that was infectious. It was truly a pop-ish post-modern form of trance, in every sense possible.
The DJs realized, early on, that when an MC toasts and boasts over the record, it got the crowd excited… Maybe they realized that playing a hip hop beat on repeat was one thing – and having breakdancers break to it was yet another things – but including vocals made it altogether more whole, in a way (which is something that a lot of edm trance DJs don’t see to realize very often)…
So, when you hear DJs talk about how they’d “stay up for hours, listening to loops,” they’re listening to their own self-constructed trance tunes. Hip hop was, in a very fundamental way, a radical experimentation of sound and culture. Consider this – a whole musical genre was built on the basic premise of taking pre-existing funky tracks and converting them into a trance music structure (while at the same time keeping the original sound entirely intact) – that’s what hip hop music is (or, at least, was… though time has passed and the template is evolving once again, in some ways).
In structure and style, you can call it trance. If you consider the specific sounds of electronic music and edm/trance, hip hop also maintains a lot of the same sounds – the drumboxes, a heavy usage of synthesizers (and, in some cases, like Bambaataa, sampling actual electronic artists).
So, what is my point in all of this? My point is that trance has actually been one of the dominant forms of Western music for about twenty years, it just isn’t recognized as such. It never has been…
And no, not the kind of trance music that’s made exclusively for clubbers/hippies/mushroom-eaters, either. I know that’s the stereotype, but at least one or two of the aforementioned labels probably apply to at least 90% of hardcore enthusiasts of what is considered ‘trance’ (edm-trance) music…
So there you have it… Trance can be created by repetitive funk loops and reciting rhythmic poetry on top.
That’s pretty much it. I feel I don’t need to elaborate much more, as my point has hopefully been understood. I guess the reason I’m writing this is to show that despite what experts say…. (be they the old-guard ‘experts’ at Rolling Stone or VH1 or whomever… or even musicologists in universities who stubbornly refuse to recognize a trend that came along any time after the halfway point of the 20th century…) the experts are often not likely to reconsider their rigidly-held viewpoints, and therefore, are stuck in a bubble of their own creation. Bottom line – everyone is wrong except for me, StrangeFlow.
No, I’m just being sarcastic. Hell, sometimes I’m wrong about music, too! (…uh… occasionally… and on purpose) …
Some people get enraged when you try and label a new form of music – and this is true more often in electronic music culture, as much as anywhere else. I have my own theories on why this is, and obviously, there are good as well as bad implications of having a hundred different styles of music to look through. It can be daunting, to say the least, unless you are an extremely casual observer. But here’s the thing – subgenres are always based on preconceived notions of music style: if one goes back and reconsiders the ‘rules’ of music, the ‘exact’ history of the dynamic between music and culture, they might occasionally stumble upon revelations. Revelations, for example, like the link between hip hop and trance… or the revelation that, by definition, Chicago juke is actually a form of folk music, in addition to a super-fast dance music.
What are these revelations worth? Well, if people start to realize and appreciate a particular influence in a style of music they’re making or listening to, perhaps they’ll view that style of music a little differently… And once they start to view it and think about it differently, they will, invariably, start to go about interacting with it and creating it differently, in the future.
And so, really, what’s wrong with that? Especially considering that the only thing that has changed is one’s perception of an art form… If nothing else, this is just one more consideration / analysis in the ongoing understanding of the link between the artist’s mentality – and their resulting artwork.
Yes, StrangeFlow has taken his trusty aeroplane, the BASSADELIC 1, for another voyage, this time landing in Europe…
This article will attempt to cover a portion of a dance music that many over here in the West may not be quite as familiar with (though I’m sure some of you have).. The thing is, there are many different varieties and forms of music, both electronic and otherwise, that are doing just fine without London or Los Angeles, and in the interest of learning about new music, and possibly gaining inspiration, I thought it would be a great thing to educate myself on some of these interesting genres.
Originally from Finland, suomisaundi translates to, “Finnish sound” in Finnish. It first appeared in the mid 90s, and it’s a breath of fresh air compared to the overly-strict rhythms of goa trance. Though it was originally a Finish form of dance music, it can be found in Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Norway, and areas around the Eastern European side of the globe.
It’s trance music that doesn’t take itself quite as seriously as some forms of bass/dance music, and I think that’s probably a good thing. It’s experimental, trippy, and has been described as downright anarchistic. As I said earlier, I will try to touch ground on this form of music, but by no means should article be viewed as being quite s thoroughly comprehensive as I’d like; afterall, this is just ONE article, and I’m talking about a whole genre of music! So, please bear this in mind.
While you scan this article, here’s a nice little mix to get things rolling…
As well, some notable labels are 6-Dimension Soundz, Exogenic Records and Freakdance Records (the latter two being Finnish, and 6-Dimension Soundz hailing from Japan). Another label is Hippie Killer Productions, who put on a show earlier this year, and the flyer is below. It gives you a small taste of some of the visual aesthetics of the style:
One notable artist/pioneer of the genre, named Texas Faggott, created Thixx’.n’.Dixx, which was a website that contained mp3 downloads from all (or nearly all) of the suomisaundi musicians at the time of it’s debut.
I couldn’t find the site mentioned, but I heard some tunes by Texas Faggott. One of them, posted just below, is called, ‘Psychedelic Virgins.’
His music is some of the more popular in Finnish psytrance, and you can find his music on Beatport.com (just to name one site).
Another label, Antiscarp Records, just recently released a compilation, entitled, “Bread & Circus,” (a reference from hundreds of years ago, when leaders who were attempting to distract their subjects would allow for ‘bread and circuses,’ or, good food (bread was considered good back then) and entertainment, to keep their people from rising up and changing things). Anyway, the compilation features artists from all over, and I’ve posted a few of the tracks below..
Another interesting artist is PeLinPaLa.
Below is one of his tunes, called, ‘Funk Da Mental Superstar Mamafucka.’ You can hear some real funk in it, as well as a complete lack of concern for staying to the strict template of the epic build-up style known TOO well to artists of trance, techno, house, even dubstep, (and, unfortunately, some of the bigger glitch hop tunes these days)… I almost want to start calling this “FUN TRANCE,” because it really makes Goa trance DJs seem like a bunch of fascists! Ha.
Alright, now it’s time for some Squaremeat. This one’s real fun! It’s ‘Pure Cofein (Francoises_FUTUREmix).’
I enjoy this style because, although I have enjoyed trance music in the past, and I’ve been to Goa a couple times and seen how trance music IS LITERALLY EVERYWHERE (which is very fun) I did grow somewhat tired of the monotonous and overly-structured and predictable nature of a lot of it. It’s no secret that psychedlic trance serves as a great soundtrack to taking psychedlic drugs (not saying it HAS to, but it HAS and still DOES, often) but it makes sense that a music designed by or for LSD/MDMA/DMT/Psilocybin experiences would go a little off-course and explore itself, musicially, whilst at the same time provide the listener something enjoyable and fun to dance to.
Not to push the point too much harder, but really, overly-repetitive trance (as compared to some of this stuff) takes on the inverse path that suomisaundi does, artistically; that is to say that a constant and entrancing rhythm that builds or drops can be great for inducing a psychedelic pulse (and helping to keep the brain waves in the beta frequency?) but this Finnish stuff sounds like music by people who have actually explored some of these altered mindsets – and come back with a new sound – a sound that isn’t as predictable or irritating – but rather, a sound full of energy, life, humor, and excitement!
…& cheers to that, I say!
So, to end this voyage, I leave you with a clip of a rave that took place in a Russian Forest, with Killahbass on the decks, from 2007…
If you liked this article and want to see StrangeFlow travel to other exotic locations, leave a comment about what other interesting forms of music you’d like to see blogged!
BTW, I realize the photo at the top of the page might make it appear as though StrangeFlow landed in Africa. I know that Finland, Russia, New Zealand, Norway, and every other country I mentioned are not exactly African countries.. Actually, StrangeFlow was able to parachute halfway across the globe, which is pretty good, considering he was dropped above Africa, eh?