NOTE: I started this post yesterday so there are some BACK2DAFUTURE moments. It might be helpful to draw some sort of diagram to keep it all straight.
Man, this homepage has really gone to shit! Some of you probably even thought I was dead! LESS-THAN-LIKELY...
Today is the THURSDAY before Halloween which means that in a few hours most American universities will be crawling with GHOULS, GOBLINS and SEXY NURSES!
I don't have a costume yet. For the past two years, I've been a RABBIT in a PINK SHIRT. I think I left my rabbit ears at home...
(I ENDED UP BEING A CRICKET PLAYER/SEBASTIAN FROM BRIDESHEAD REVISITED. ONE GIRL AT THE PARTY SAW ME AND WAS LIKE 'Y'ALL STRAIGHT OUTTA BRIDESHEAD REVISITED', SO I GUESS I DID A DECENT JOB...)
Halloween's not the only holiday this week. Did you know that Ramadan's been poppin' off since October 4th? Don't worry. It's not over yet. You've got until November 3rd to celebrate.
Don't go trick-or-treating at Muslim households until AFTER SUNSET! Would you want some little punk-ass in a Spiderman mask waving a bag of candy in your face when you hadn't eaten all day??
If you're too old and sophisticated for AMERICAN CANDY, you can say "FUCK HALLOWEEN" (to yourself or out loud) and wait ONE DAY later for DIWALI and chow down on some burfee.
That's right, the Hindu festival of lights is Nov. 1st this year, one day after Halloween.
In celebration of DIWALI, let's talk/think about the DIWALI riddim. Diwali is the name of the annual Hindu festival of lights, observed through the rituals of lighting small oil lamps and candles and displays of fireworks, each symbolizing a renewal of life and spirit at the start of the Hindu New Year. Diwali is also the name of one of the most popular Dancehall Reggae rhythms of all time and in musical terms it too represents a new beginning.
You may not know this riddim by name but if you've ever listened to the radio or been to a Dirty Projectors concert you've heard it.
The first big US hit (or at least the first one I heard) to use the DIWALI RIDDIM was Lumidee's "Never Leave You". There was a remix with Busta Rhymes and Fabolous. You remember it right? It was real minimalist with those slightly off-key "uh ohhh"s.LUMIDEE
Then that same rhythm (riddim) started popping up everywhere; Sean Paul's "Get Busy", that Wayne Wonder song with the awesome keyboard part, etc.
Hearing this rhythm all over the place made it seem very MYSTERIOUS to me. Who made it? Was the Lumidee song the original?
These questions are very easily answered in rock music:
- "Jump" is a Van Halen song. It is on "1984".
-Van Halen is/was a band composed of these four dudes.
- Van Halen covered
"Pretty Woman". The original was by Roy Orbison.
-BAM! You're done.
I think this is the reason electronic music/dancehall/rap has always mystified me. There are all sorts of different versions of songs (remixes, extended 12" versions, dub versions, the same beat with a different rapper). It takes some serious detective work to really get to the bottom of the CREATION ladder in rap. Because of the dominance of the ALBUM in ROCKNROLL, there are DEFINITIVE versions of songs. If you wanna go seek out the demo's and alternate takes YOU CAN, but you're not gonna hear those tracks on the radio. Rap also has ALBUMS and thus ALBUM VERSIONS, but there is way more FLUIDITY in regard to issues of AUTHENTICITY, ORIGINALITY and DEFINITIVE-NESS.
Say you hear a RAP/DANCEHALL song on Hot 97:
-The on-air DJ may be manipulating it.
-The version you're hearing could be a remix or some sort of throw-away Jay-Z freestyle on top of the original beat.
-The dude who "produced" the song may not have MADE the beat.
-The dude who MADE the beat may not have COMPOSED all of its elements.
Have you ever checked out the credits of a rap song? There are usually four or five names there and you won't recognize MOST OF THEM. Quick: what's Snoop Dogg's real name? Dr. Dre's? OK, kind of going on a tangent, but do you see what I'm saying? There is more mystery in this music. Maybe it's just because I'm an outsider to these scenes...
EITHER WAY, I LIKE THE MYSTERY.
Anyway, the Lumidee song was NOT the first song to use the DIWALI RIDDIM. In fact, the DIWALI RIDDIM does not originate in ANY ONE SONG. It was birthed as a riddim. It was created by Steven "Lenky" Marsden, a Jamaican producer. In Jamaica, a dude like Lenky doesn't just make the beat and go looking for one
rapper/singer to COMPLETE the SONG. The beat/riddim has a life of its own....because the rhythm sounded unlike anything coming out of Jamaica at that time, Lenky couldn't get any artists to "voice" on it. "Voicing", as related to Jamaican music, is the process of adding an artist's vocal tracks to a prerecorded rhythm; upcoming producers must persuade leading reggae deejays (the Jamaican equivalent of rappers) and singers to voice on their rhythm tracks. "Basically, the Jamaican artists didn't understand it so they weren't willing to voice on it" Lenky continues. "At the time it sounded so different, they wondered what I was doing. I got frustrated so I started voicing little (lesser known) artists like Zumjay and Assassin and I gave it to radio people to play. Then the big names heard it and decided to voice on it."
Greensleeves Records is the big boss when it comes to RIDDIM COMPILATIONS. I think Greensleeves may even own the rights to the Diwali Riddim. Lenky definitely has some sort of formal connection to the label. A lot of the rhythms are credited to specific production companies though. Here's a question: Do these compilations merely reflect the popularity of a certain riddim or do these compilations introduce the riddim and make it popular? I assume both statements are somewhat true...
These albums are compilations of different dancehall stars chanting/rapping/singing over a certain beat. DIWALI was #27 in the Greensleeves Rhythm Album Series
. There are currently 76 titles. You'll probably recognize some of them. SIREN
uses that weird synth sound from KILL BILL. BOLLYWOOD
also known as THE INDIAN uses the same Lata Mangeshkar sample as that Truth Hurts song, "Contagious".
Where do we go from here? Maybe you already knew all this stuff, but if you're like me and find the non-rock world daunting, beautiful and mysterious you might enjoy ISHKUR'S GUIDE TO ELECTRONIC MUSIC.
So, in case you don't remember the DIWALI riddim here are TWO of Beenie Man's takes on it. Both are from the Greensleeves comp.
I don't find either of these to be particularly great. I would say go download Wayne Wonder or Lumidee, but still it's interesting to see how differently Beenie Man interpreted the track on different occasions.Beenie Man - That's RightBeenie Man - War is Over
NOW, why is a Jamaican dancehall track named after a Hindu holiday? Go "DECOLONIZE YR MIND" to find out.
MORE VIBE SCIENCE TO COME. LOTS OF REVELATIONS TO REPORT in FUTURE:
-W.B. YEATS was a VIBE-OLOGIST
-ANDREW WK is a VIBE-BUDDHIST with KEROUAC-IAN tendencies.
- THE LIFE AQUATIC 2-DISC CRITERION COLLECTION SET is SUPER CHEAP on EBAY.