Single Spinning Three Rappers, One Dubstepper, A Critical DJ, And Mr. <em>I Get Wet</em> Meeting Mr. John McLaughlin

Jess Harvell | March 6, 2008 12:30 pm

Whether they’re petroleum-based or digital downloads, singles remain pop’s most fascinating format. Twice a week in Single Spin, a singles-focused twist on Second Spin, we’ll take a look at a song, sound, scene, or star that we think deserves more than two lines and a Rapidshare link–whether it’s CMT country, underground dance, unfriendly noise, or anything else served up one tune at a time. Today we listen to the latest grim banger from a Philadelphia hip-hop institution, a decidedly less grim groove from not-so-sunny London, a music critic delivering a mournful techno remix, and something totally, unexpectedly, ridiculously astounding: Andrew WK’s new mash note to a TV roundtable legend (!), which comes complete with MP3 so you can download and boggle along.

The Roots Feat. Dice Raw, DJ Jazzy Jeff, And Peedi Crakk – “Get Busy” (Def Jam) Judging by the pre-release leakage from Rising Down, the Roots’ rhythm tracks are now pushing for all their life against a suffocating layer of static and an smothering low-end closing in from the bottom. (Without booklet credits, I don’t want to call that noise a “bassline” only to once again find out it’s Mr. Tuba Gooding, Jr.) Philly breakout-who’s-yet-to-break Peedi Crakk leapfrogged across a string of Roc-A-Fella tracks earlier in the decade that treated his sing-song flow like a sound effects record, groomed like so many Dash/Carter pet projects to wind up routed to the mixtape circuit and growing a chip on both shoulders. (Perhaps he missed the 2007 memo that all Philly rappers needed a Swizz beat to see any sort of chart love.) Surveying his rough decade alongside some hometown all-stars, he’s less manic on the mic, but perhaps that’s fitting given the track in question. The big beats on Peedi’s old collabos hopped, skipped, and jumped; “Get Busy” trudges two slushy miles up Broad Street in big black boots because SEPTA stopped running at the first sign of crappy weather. Cold fronting against the windswept scratching from a guy who used to run afoul of Philip Banks and the band’s immobilizing groove, Peedi flips up his hood, his middle finger, and offers lawyers and label heads the following unsolicited advice: “Fuck the Internet / Buy a baseball bat / Break a bootlegger leg.”

Trance Rap Antidote [Cocaine Blunts]

D1 – “I’m Loving” (Tempa) Like an Anglo-Caribbean cousin to the snarling Eastern Seaboard ish of “Get Busy,” British producer D1 usually comes moanin’ at midnight with the darker-than-the-rest sub-bass and thudding beats of dubstep; Tempa is one of the South London labels that initially mapped the increasingly confining parameters for the latest post-rave sub-genre barely distinguishable to American ears. But D1’s always been a little softer than his pitch-black brethren, clinging to memories of clubbing fun during dubstep’s long ban on anything that smacks of Chic-approved good times; whether “I’m Loving,” much more suited to the daylight hours than anything I’ve recently heard from a dubstep producer, is merely the man following his particular muse or a concerted effort to rethink the genre’s gloomy boom, it’s quite welcome. D1’s intercontinental syncopation is cooked from the kind of skipping Detroit techno hi-hats beloved by U.K. broken beat producers and the palsied carnival bounce of Trinidadian soca; add a fresh coat of bright synths and a sweet soul vocal hook and you’ve got something more suited to chilling at a beach house than skulking through the drizzle-soaked concrete-and-steel landscape suggested by crit-darling Burial and a grown and sexy twist on adolescent bassline heads reattaching house to the garage.

D1 [MySpace] D1 – “I’m Loving [Boomkat sound samples]

Guillaume And The Coutu Dumonts – “Les Gans (Philip Sherburne Remix)” (Musique Risquée) Music critic pal conflicts of interest abound, but I’d be fibbing if I didn’t say this remix was my fave rave from this round of Single Spinning. Simple in the heart-tugging way good melodic, minimal techno should be, something often easy forget about given the genre’s current glut: a fragile Brian Wilson chime and a Perlon-esque shaker-and-pop pattern opens to let in bass and synth before the track drifts from good to great on gliding, sad-eyed horn charts more Cinematic Orchestra than Ricardo Villalobos. Comparisons to anything remotely trip-hop are tricky given the tendency for potential listeners burnt on blunted beat comps to instantly recoil, and Sherburne’s remix has too much snap to sink into the background. But more build-up or come-down than set climax, this would indeed fit on one of the early, excellent (no, really) Future Sounds Of Jazz comps quite nicely. (Don’t snort, minimal snobs; the maestro Villalobos himself appeared on one of the series’ later installments.)

Philip Sherburne Productions [MySpace]

Andrew WK – “McLaughlin Groove” (Fair Game) When I was a small boy, my grandfather (may he R.I.P.) subjected his Catholic grandchildren to endless Sunday mornings spent not in church but around the TV for secular worship of various network news idols sermonizing from the magazine or roundtable mount. The only one of these windbags who could have possibly entertained a pair of grade schoolers cranky because they couldn’t even enjoy whatever off-brand cartoons were being aired on UHF was John McLaughlin, whose bellowing, bellicose interruptions and radiant smugness were like watching one of your jerky prepubescent peers be plucked from the recess yard and plopped in a leather chair between Washingtonian insiders, instilling in us both a love for news and a love for shouting. Under the aegis of public radio arts’n’news show Fair Game, our beloved Andrew WK has recorded this cranked-up, karaoke-ready throwback to his I Get Wet-era sound in awed appreciation of that special “McLaughlin Groove,” and while there’s no reasonable explanation for two of my favorite loudmouths to have come together, I can only hope this hints at a possible duets record between strapping young Andrew and the aging Mr. McLaughlin right quick, before AWK has to posthumously put it together in an icky Alicia/Frankie style.

Andrew WK – McLaughlin Groove [MP3] Fair Game [Official Site]