A few weeks ago I was invited to sit in on a dub set to be played by Dub For Light for Tony Conquerrah’s Shanty Town radio show on BBOX Radio. Not just a usual DJ or a selector set, but an actual live performance, with songs being mixed right in the studio in real time. I am a huge fan of dub, but have never had the pleasure of seeing it created live before. Naturally I accepted gladly.
Dub For Light is just one man, but he wields a wicked army of equipment. He arrived to the studio with what he called his ‘small’ set-up, an array of mixers, samplers, pedals and other things with knobs and buttons that I couldn’t identify. He assembled his complicated schema of wiring, said a few words of introduction, turned on one of his buttons and then then room suddenly pulsed with bass. For the next half-hour he was hunched over the controls like a mad scientist, tweaking knobs and fiddling dials with wild abandon, cackling maniacally as sparks flew between his fingers and flickered in his hair. Waves of deep chunky dub poured forth from his hands, sound filling the room like air gushing into a vacuum, engulfing us completely in pure awe, shaking the building to the very foundations. The ghosts of all the dub greats, the Kings and the Princes and the Super Apes, even the ones who aren’t dead, appeared in a beatific glow and smiled and nodded approvingly, exactly like old the old Jedi Masters did at the end of Return Of The Jedi.
I am exaggerating somewhat for dramatic effect, but it really was a phenomenal performance. Tony and I tried to figure out Dub For Light’s method, how much of was planned and how much was improvised, and were pleasantly stumped. Each song was distinct and carried at least a suggestion of individual shape, but there was also a feeling of an ongoing riff, an off the cuff quality that persisted through the entire set. The man himself kindly shed some light on this, his brief explanation is included with the recording.
Ultimately, how Dub For Light did it may not matter as much as the effect he produced. Tony and I really were somewhat awestruck, that part is 100% true. Our heads nodded to the percussion, our stomachs rumbled with the bass, and when the man hit the effects pedal the floor really did drop away beneath our feet. It was awesome. The full set is below, enjoy.
More from Dub For Light: https://www.facebook.com/dubforlight
More from Shanty Town on BBOX Radio: http://www.bboxradio.com/shanty-town/
I have seen a lot of people on Twitter looking for this footage, so here it is.
It felt like it may also be fitting to include a somewhat different, more forceful perspective from another rapper who’s music and general outlook I also enjoy. So Rast’s song venting his anger about this issue is below.
Beat like Gila is tiptoeing in his Jordans through enchanted forests, raps like Face Vega went mushroom picking in that same forest and spit out the entire contents of his rap brain in one stream of consciousness.
Great new EP from The Guys, showcasing the stylistic and topical versatility they have come to be known for, as well as a welcome undercurrent of social consciousness. The nearly contradictory juxtaposition between the EP’s two best tracks – the glossy celebratory ‘Ferragamo Belts’ and the tense skewing of materialistic rap cliches on ‘Chainz’ – is the key to The Guys’ work. The ability to reconcile very different modes of rap on one project and execute them all well, while also detouring into seemingly random stylistic asides like the killer Bone Thugs homage, may be the group’s best asset.
Had this stuck in my head ever since Wu’s widely ballyhooed appearance on The Daily Show. The Larry Sanders Show isn’t very widely remembered now but it was pretty big in ’98, and as I was an impressionable 18yo Wu-Stan at the time this particular episode stuck with me ever since.
The clip above is only a part of the episode, but it has all the salient points – the network brings on Jon Stewart to guest-host, Stewart turns out to be something of a wildcard and books the Wu, white awkwardness and concerns about scaring the Mid-West audiences ensue. The scene where co-host Hank meets The Clan (actually it’s RZA, Cappa and Killarmy) is a particular highlight.
This was great satire when it aired and remains a valuable time capsule of how rap and rappers were viewed by the mainstream media at the time. Watching it in 2014 also creates some poignant ‘then and now’ moments. The question of ODB’s absence resonates tragically in light of his storied legal troubles and untimely death. The absence of the other members also strikes an inadvertent chord about the group’s later fractured relationship and their notorious inability to get all the members in one room (granted they managed it for last week’s appearance.) On a lighter note, the brief off-hand reference to RZA doing a movie has become weirdly prophetic considering his forays into Hollywood, while the actual movie he was likely referring to in the clip has become a lost holy grail among his fans.
The main difference is of course in the music. In 2014 I am still a huge Wu fan, but even so I would have to admit that by now they have become something like a legacy act. They still make good music here and there, but there is an obvious difference between the medley performed in the clip, a combination of ‘And Justice For All‘ and ‘The Pillage‘, and the single they debuted on The Daily Show. The new song is not bad, the verses are actually rather nice, but the edge that made them a possibly dangerous unknown quantity for the Larry Sanders showrunners has clearly dulled.
I’m not too mad about that, it’s natural. People mellow out with age, they are not the same rappers they were back then, and I’m not the same Wu-Stan either. It’s good to see the group still doing things, good to see Stewart still supporting, and it’s cool that they can still come together at least in some measure. For the rest we will always have ’98.
Finally, the new instrumental full length from DJ Burn One.
My favorite track from the newly released 1st Of The Month Vol 2 EP.
The full album is now available for streaming and purchase via DJBooth.
First single from their new EP Furtive Movements.