Saturday, 29 March 2008

March/ April 08 - 3 Bar Fiya Column

Originally posted on

Whilst in the midst of interviewing the rusty spooned technoid infusionist 2562 in anticipation of his debut album on Tectonic, to a rather sick soundtrack (the LP sampler of Dread Techno and Enforcers - more hypnotically twisted, pulsating riddims folks!), I have been inundated with so much quality bass heavy music it’s frankly mind-boggling. Who needs the wank-glam of Miami and sweat pit of SXSW! It’s all about my internet party…hmmnn.

So, let's delve into the dark moist pit of sonic tendrils sitting in my box right now.

Stamping an Air Force One footprint firmly on the dubstep world right now is Cotti. A number of shhh bootlegs shhh, including the huge I Don’t Give A Dub has catapulted this ex grime producer into the limelight. Soul Jazz have just put out three more of his tracks on a white featuring the excellent The Search. But, it has been his collob with Doctor and Jammer that have pushed him ahead of the crowd. Calm Down ft Doctor is next level, brush ya shoulder off badness, which shows the rest of the scene that dubstep doesn’t have to be bootleg accapella rip offs.

Caspa and Rusko are busy bees. Caspa’s Ave It Vol 2 is out on limited TP at the moment, the usual blend of tomfoolery and face scrunching beats, for those that have missed, cop the finished vinyl for the top quality artwork. Wing man Rusko has just featured a mix on Mary Anne Hobbs Radio One show called Cockney Knee’s Up, featuring a slew of new riddims including the party killer Soundguy Is My Target ft Lutan Fyah (although there was word of a possible alternative vocal with Roddy Azlan, so keep em peeled).

I’ve got my mits on some brand new 12th Planet bits, including the Howard Marks toasting special Untitled 65, which aside from the celebrity endorsement is a killer slice of Future Soca dubstep. Big up to Ez E and all the Subconscious crew.

West London imprint Art Recordings are continuing to push new artists with the excellent Fused Forces and their forthcoming Safety Catch Ep with three standout tracks laced with rootical spices –Total Dub, Creation Dub and Rainforest – do the do for me.

Not sure what it is they are putting in the moonshine in Finland, but bwoy! Things are popping off. Tes La Rok’s Noppa Records is pushing some lovely sounds, none better than the superb Desto and his low slung beauty Cold, a mass of ambient flourishes and rumbling basslines. Tes is also moving away form his former aggy, ‘pint glass in the face style’ sounds, in favour of a more deep medi vibe. A good thing in my opinion. Clouds’s monumental Under the Dancing Feet is out this week on US label Argon, the biggest female vocal dubstep track yet, I can’t believe this isn’t getting playlisted on Radio One! You lazy tax payola gits!!!

A quick run through of other key releases causing heat on dubstep dancefloors, forums and radio shows right now: Vista’s Lounge Dub is a filtered mutant blend, like a NY house jazz band smacked out on gunpowder and LSD, forthcoming on 3.5 Records. Emalkay’s new 12” My Story on Boka is a rollicking beast, with a rather naughty sample that works marvellously. Moody Boyz and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry have crossed echo units for a dubstep reworking of Lee’s new material hunt this one down along with the rather bouncy remix of Erykah Badu’s promotional 7” of Honey, sweet. A quick shameless plug for 2nd Drop Records and the new single features Twisted (Dutty Dubz) and Sully Shanks on opposing sides with some rather wicked label artwork by Brum illustrator Phill Blake , go cop dat, err, as they say. The terminator like Hotflush, who keep churning out release after release every month deliver Scuba’s frankly amazing album A Mutual Antipathy out in a few days as well as the next 12” from Romania’s finest/ only dubstep export TRG who teams up with the US’s Dub-U for the crunchy Loosing Marbles which features another cerebral 2562 remix. Bad like Spam!

If the thought of dubstep anywhere but Mass, Corsica and Plastic People is like a vegetarian eating in one of London’s finest Aberdeen Steak Houses, then you may want to avoid Why Not? at Ministry of Sound on Friday 11th April for, and I quote, “Over 40 of dubstep’s finest”, you name it they’re playing. Not a pair of coke splattered sunglasses in sight….probably. Those in East Anglia, don’t forget to check out Mala (DMZ) playing at DOA , at the Mustard Lounge for a lesson in dubstep progression!. Further south is Bournemouth’s Bloc Control hosting Distance, Scuba and Scientist which is a killer line up! Northways, Futureproof fly over 2562 on 11th April for throbbing dread techno fun. Get involved!

A quick burfday shout to the lovely Kid Cazual – Happy Burfday bro! The freedom pass is only months away!

Left to right - tired Markle, Kid Cazual

Peas, Markle

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Interview with Benga the Afro Warrior


I meet afro topped production maverick Beni ‘Benga’ Adejumo in the lobby of a bitterly cold East Croydon station on a commuter packed Tuesday evening. He’s freezing his tits off. His stylish blue coat, colour coded with his sparkling BAPE trainers, is as thin as a plastic bag, “I had a photo shoot for Xlr8tr Magazine this afternoon with Skream, then recorded an interview and mix with Gilles Peterson for his Radio One show,” says the 21-year old Benga. “It’s been a long day. I’m freezing!” Thankfully, style over substance is not a quality prevalent on his eagerly awaited 2nd long player, Diary of an Afro Warrior; a cornucopia of disfigured melody and probing electronic hedonism.

Yet, before we delve into the wirey, sonic undergrowth of the album, we should really take a minute to observe the journey that matured and formed this musical prodigy. Before tinkling with midi keyboards, the Coulsdon, South London resident, was twinkling on the football pitch. Playing for Arsenal YTS, the young 12-year-old grew up in a footballing family, yet the inevitable choice between kicking ball and music was always clear, “my brother at that time was mad, saying things like, “You gotta stop doing one, music or football.” So, I picked music, coz I felt it more, I enjoyed it more. I could sit for days and days making music,” says Benga.

It was a combination of juvenile cheek and perfect timing that saw him get his first break. Experimenting at primary school with a stolen tape recorder, he began his first foray into working with music, “I would get this little tape recorder, hold it up to my stereo system and record and stop.” Recalls Benga, “Then put another tune on and create a dodgy mix.” The young innovator was soon buying drum and bass and garage records from Big Apple Records, even without his own pair of decks (when a friend got his first set up, Benga nailed the technique in just two weeks). Still just 12, his tender years marked him out from the rest. “They said to me, “Hey, you’re too young to be buying records, you’re wasting your money pal.” I was like, “I bet I can mix better than you.” They were like, “c’mon then.” So I clashed Hatcha (much laughter),” quips Benga. So impressed with his skills, Hatcha and then owner, John Kennedy, began to watch him DJ regularly, “I was playing some place down the road called Blue Anchor and John came in and said I can’t believe you’re tearing down the crowd and you’re only 12!” says Benga.

Playing alongside Hatcha introduced him to dubplate culture and the dark garage sounds of El-B, Benny Ill and Ghost. This was the catalyst for his own foray into production, “Hatcha would tear it up, he had so many tunes I couldn’t get, and that pissed me off. So the only way to get tunes like that was to make them myself,” recounts Benga. “I tried to imitate it, but where my sound wasn’t strong enough, the same with Skream, we’d come with some next level on it.” A style that producer Arthur Smith aka Artwork (who also worked at Big Apple) was keen to encourage, helping shape the acidic, proto dubstep textures that would soon see fruition on Big Apple Records as Skank in 2002.

Fast forward to January 2008, and I’m sitting opposite an accomplished and confident producer. A brief two year hiatus from 2004-2006 allowed Benga to indulge in some more lucrative music ventures, developing his production skills exponentially, that ultimately developed the sound and character we hear in his dubstep music today.

Yet techniques are merely tools of the trade. It is the vibrant creativity that impresses on Diary of an Afro Warrior; from the warm Detroit techno of Emotions, to the jazz licks of opener Zero M2 and B4 The Dual in contrast with the sheer uncontrollable electro filth of 26 Basslines and E Trips. What is more astounding is that Benga has never bought a Carl Craig 12” or listened to Pharaoh Saunders’ jazz and is not a massive music collector. “I’m not really the kind of sit down and listen to a certain type of music person. I just listen to whatever’s around,” says Benga. “I remember Arthur went out and bought me a bunch of CD’s, there was loads of old stuff. He bought me Chic, Stevie Wonder and loads of other old school things. That’s about it really, that’s the only time I’ve listen to whole albums.”

It’s clear that days spent hanging out his window with an aerial tuning into whatever pirate radio station was in range, had a profound effect on the young producer; absorbing jungle, hardcore and garage or “proper bangin, mad shit!” as he enthusiastically remembers, crackling through the airwaves. Whilst many producers heavily reference the past, overtly highlighting heroes, inspirations & icons, Benga is the opposite. Instead, like a super absorbent sponge, he seems to have unconsciously soaked up the musical energies buzzing through everyday life, all infusing and mutating within him, channelled back out through his own unique, organic compositions. “Arthur used to say, “You’re really natural at it. You kinda of listened to music when you were younger and get the influences now”; it all comes out when I’m making music,” states Benga.

In comparison with his first long player, 2006’s Newstep released on his own Benga Beats imprint - more a compilation of songs than a coherently structured long player – Diary of and Afro Warrior suggest a more experimental and expansive Benga, “I learnt a lot when I was making pop and house music, but I turn it on and off. It’s knowing how to use it in dubstep,” says Benga. The CD album is leaden with 14 tracks; club bangers, Night, Crunked Up and 28 Basslines, mix genially with more lyrical gambits, including the ambidextrous Loose Synths and off kilter wonk of 3 Minutes. Pleasure and Go Tell Them, proffer quirky vocals snippets, both manic and mysterious, perfect genre bending oddities. The house inflected Someone20 further challenges the dubstep envelope, clocking in around 120 bpm, yet retaining all the paraphernalia of a true Benga creation.

For those with a vinyl dependency, you’ll be in for an altogether different experience. Culling all but four of the CD tracks, yet adding five new ones, the triple plate vinyl LP is made simply and eloquently for the dance. “When you go to the vinyl it’s different, that’s for clubs. I genuinely believe that when I make tunes for clubs, it’s just dancefloor” states Benga. Gone are the accessible motifs, in come subsonic, angular creations like Twister, Metallic and Out of Phaze, more than enough to scare off the uninitiated, but plenty to make the hardcore drool.

Not many dancefloors have avoided the irresistibly catchy hook of Night, even in the Middle East, “Skream was playing in Israel and he phoned me up and said “listen to this”: a whole bus was singing the main riff of Night – do do do do do do dooo dooo doo doo do – it was mad!” Built with fellow producer Coki (one half of Digital Mystikz and the only collaboration on the album), it was a conscious upping of both producer’s games that led to its creation, “It was our third tune. We made World War 7 together, another tune called Full Throttle. They were mediocre. I’m not saying they were shit, but average tunes. We should be able to come up with something new. We kept coming up with melodies and riffs, but kept turning them down; it’s weird how the simplest thing worked so well,” recounts Benga.

Skream maybe Dubstep’s pin up boy, but Benga is fast stamping his indelible mark into the collective consciousness. Smashing seven shades of bass out of Pete Tong’s Essential Mix in early February, Benga also has recorded slots with a host of Radio One tastemakers; Gilles Peterson, Annie Mac and Rob Da Bank, and even receiving peak daytime spins from Jo Whiley, highlighting more than anything the reach and appeal of his music. Yet, these are rare chances to hear Benga on the radio, and for good reason. “People can over rinse it. When I’m playing out things are still fresh, I’ve a lot of tunes in my bag that I don’t think a lot of people have heard. So when I’m playing you think, “do I wanna come out?” It makes your mind up for you, simple,” says Benga.

If you do catch one of Benga’s electrifying DJ sets – a punishing dubplate journey through the outer reaches of dubstep, a fusion of techno, grime, jazz and electro, imploding into a hyper energetic wall of sound and sub – you’ll see his hair first and trainers second. Is he addicted to BAPE trainers? “Badly, baaadly,” he chuckles back. The reason resonates heavily with his music and desire to maintain individuality; “BAPE’s are exclusive, with only one pair in your size in Europe. You’d never come across the same person wearing the same ones. I’ve been ringing up BAPE every day this week because they have four new pairs out and I’m gonna buy every single one of them,” Benga confesses.

If you do draw your eyes away from his sub £160 trainers for a second, you;ll also notice a few familiar faces in the dance. Skream, Hijak, Walsh and other scene luminaries frequently support each other at gigs. Yet it has been Benga’s close friendship with Skream that has helped get both of them where they are today. “He is one of the ones who pushes my limits and I think I do the same to him,” admits Benga, “It’s no competition. It’s more the fact that I make a tune that’s big and he’ll want to make a tune better than that. It’s only healthy for us. It helps to keep you sane and grounded. Living in that world too much, you’ll start thinking you’re a super star.”

Diary of an Afro Warrior is out on Tempa in March 2008. For more info check –

This interview is printed in the March issue of ATM Magazine

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Well excited about this! Liverpool gonna get smashed!!!

Big up Thomas everytime.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Rye Rye - Shake It To The Ground

Love the beats...the dancing is jokes...just watch for the breakdown towards the end too...electro/ techno breakbeats....sick!!

Monday, 10 March 2008

March Top Ten

Me and Desto @ DMZ 3rd Birthday

March Top Ten
In no particular order:

Cotti ft Doctor - Calm Down (Forthcoming Bassface)
Rusko ft Lutan Fiya - Soundguy is My Target (Unreleased)
Clouds & Deadkhid - Sitting & Watching (Unreleased)
Mundo - Monterry (forthcoming Dub Assembly)
Clouds - Under The Dancing Feet Tes La Rok Remix (Forthcoming Argon)
TRG - They Know (Forthcoming Immerse)
Lee Perry vs Moody Boyz (Forthcoming ?)
Quest - The Seafront (Deep Medi)
Desto - Cold (Forthcoming Noppa)
Relocate - Too Moody To Swing (Unreleased)

Non Dubstep speesh:
J Dilla - Signs (Stones Throw)