Shop Around Ö part 50
At the risk of coming across a little Nik Cohn Tricksta-ish I have to say that my radio seems to be permanently tuned in again to shall we say the rather less official radio stations in the London area. In a sinus-plagued haze this week I had good old Dťjŗ Vu on, and maybe heard Rihanna, Teedra Moses, Teairra Mari, and Faith Evans within thirty minutes of one another. Pop music doesnít get much better than that.

I like the unofficial stations at the moment because thereís a tremendous energy to push Londonís own urban sounds. The DJs enthusiastically talking up their own Kano, Kleshnekoff, Kevin Mark Trail, and so on. The airwaves thick with UK hip hop, UK bashment, our own grime and garage. And itís got to be said a lot of it sounds good to me.

Tuning in one evening a couple of weeks back I heard a South London ríníb singer/songwriter Sherrisa Stewart being interviewed about the release of her debut Donít Hesitate set, and the accompanying songs sounded so incredibly soulful and alive, that I thought yeah we should be supporting this. And I did, getting hold of a copy via her labelís website (Green Dragon Media), and playing it to death ever since. In many ways this very homegrown record captures a special sense of London like lovers rock and the sweetest sounds of Janet Kay and Carrol Thompson did once upon a time. I love the ríníb thing when it works this well. I donít know if itís a cool thing but that Kevin Mark Trail song 'D Thames' is a beautiful London song like Light of The World once might have sung.
The UK hip hop thing is a little more exposed, and maybe with good reason. One other song I caught while lying on my bed the other afternoon hating the world was an absolute classic UK hip hop cut. It seemed to be by Swizz or Swiff, and totally knocked me sideways, the rapper almost in tears on the track, with its tough but hurting anti-gangsta stance, like the sort of hip hop I love. Like Brand Nubianís 'One For All', which Nik Cohn would probably dismiss me as a total wuss for loving. Anyway, the name sort of escaped me, until I was flicking through the promo CDs in our local charity shop, and there was a CD-R of Swissí Pain Ďní Musiq. Enlightenment dawned on me, and sure enough the track that knocked me out was on there in the epic form of 'Cry'. The set itself may not be as media-friendly as say Sway, but itís again worth supporting. And the great 'Come Over Here' features Baby Blue, who should be a star by now herself.

I love the music coming out of London the best when it gets messed up, with the lines getting blurred, with someone like Estelleís vocals riding whatever rhythm. Of late the Damian Marley 'Jam Rock' track has rightly been huge, and the ďmurderĒ refrain sneaking into everything, recalling the moments when reggae, hip hop, and the rudiments of electronica were being thrown together into an explosive mix that had not yet codified into jungle or drumíníbass. The sounds of Shut Up and Dance and the Ragga Twins, and especially Rebel MC still sound wonderfully invigorating, like say the most primal punk howl.

Another promo I picked up recently was the Born Again collection on Congo Natty of Rebel MC tracks from the early Ď90s which sound incredible, and blend perfectly with the Smith & Mighty and Rockers Hi-Fi sounds Iíve been playing so much recently. If these donít get you dancing around the room, perfecting your Prince Far-I impersonation, and your absurdist moonstomp, then youíve lost your soul somewhere along the way.

© 2005 John Carney