By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
If we might trend-spot for a moment: The success of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" following its placement in both Pineapple Express and Slumdog Millionaire has opened America's ears to thrilling international polyrhythms bouncing across the globe. I think we're on the verge of a new international sound, one that leaps continents and oceans in a single YouTube bound, and mutates not only through neighborhoods and cities but also across borders, courtesy of the massive collaborative studio that is the Internet. While Buraka Som Sistema hasn't released an official mix (though its new Black Diamond full-length is pretty wild), this 45-minute set (search for it online) offers what feels like the beginning of a new world. There are hints of techno, drum 'n' bass, kuduro, and everything else beat-related, all mixed into one big-ass thrilling ride.
This CD could stay in your stereo for three weeks straight and you would love every minute of its bumping, funky, streamlined techno. Equal parts smart, funny, angry, thoughtful, and dreamy, Ame's selection of earthy, vibrant beats is tangled with rhythmic variation and some amazing spoken-word selections, all remaining at that easy, smooth 124 bpm clip. There's Moondog again, this time offering a monologue. A few tracks later, activist/poet Ras Baraka's "An American Poem" infuses the rhythm with outrage: "My God, where is all the American poetry? Not poems about your attic. Not poems about how your clothes fit, or fucking poems or stale slobber or the night before or the morning after." Exactly. And you can dance to it.
Santi White, who is Santogold, was my favorite musician this year, closely followed by Diplo, whose taste at times so overlaps with mine in the D.I.T.C. way that he feels like a blood brother. For Top Ranking, the Philadelphia DJ transformed Santogold's self-titled debut into a mixtape, laying her a cappella vocals over a wild selection of tracks from the past 30 years, souped up with remarkable reconfigurations and segues: the B-52s' "Mesopotamia" (underrated classic, produced by David Byrne); Black Flag's "Six Pack" bass line sampled, funkified, and rejiggered with wicked Cutty Ranks vocals; the Dixie Cups classic "Iko Iko," infused with a DJ Magic Mike-inspired Miami bass rumble.