Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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New Music: BBE tribute album explores Bowie’s Black sonic inspirations

Plus: Nubiyan Twist's hard-hitting Afrobeat promises, Beatchild's look back, other fresh tunes to kickstart your week.

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We have a certain dedication here at 48 Hills to tracking down those beats. House, hip-hop, techno, footwork, drill, EDM, IDM, AOR, disco, drum and bass, clown step—that last one was a joke, but you get the picture. San Francisco has always been a haven of sorts for the representation of all types of rhythmic expression. New Beats Who Dis will attempt to feed that hunger for the beats. Enjoy!

SPACE ODDITY, “WE ARE KING”

There is a clip of David Bowie from 1983 giving Mark Goodman—an MTV VJ at that time—the business. The topic centers around the lack of music videos from Black artists featured on the channel; Bowie never loses his cool, just politely lets Goodman wade into his corporate doublespeak. It’s actually unfair to a certain degree. This former terrestrial radio rock DJ has no shot at mansplaining the genre to David Bowie. From Louis Jordan, Big Mama Thornton, right up to Little Richard (one of Bowie’s idols) rock ‘n’ roll always came from across the tracks. The British have always gotten that, far better than Americans.

The BBE Music Bowie tribute album Modern Love (scheduled for release this summer) acknowledges and explores his lesser-known connection to soul, R&B, jazz, funk, and gospel. The prominent jazz influences throughout Bowie’s final album Blackstar were a key inspiration in curating this collection of reimagined Bowie songs with an array of artists such as Jeff Parker, We Are KING, Meshell Ndegeocello, Helado Negro, Khruangbin, Matthew Tavares, L’Rain, Nia Andrews, and more.

Modern Love offers a fresh look at Bowie’s diverse and transcendent career, aiming to highlight the often-overlooked relationship between his back catalog and musical genres traditionally pioneered by artists of color. The project was curated by music executive and DJ Drew McFadden, alongside BBE Music founder Peter Adarkwah. “I felt that the connection between Bowie and R&B, jazz, funk, gospel and all things soulful, had never really been explored before—at least not so much in covers, which tend to lean more towards rock and pop,” says McFadden. “Certainly, there’s been plenty of Bowie covers over the years, but none that have really tapped into what seems to have been a big part of his core musical style and direction.”

We Are KING’s cover of Bowie’s surprise 1972 hit “Space Oddity” is a paean to this wholly singular and somewhat eccentric anthem. Smooth, subtle, and assured, their version remains true to the original, while blending in just enough soul to make it their own. The David Bowie Tribute Album is out May 28th.

BONOBO & TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURAS, “HEARTBREAK” (KERRI CHANDLER REMIX)

Bonobo and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ “Heartbreak” is an ode to one of electronic music’s formative scenes: NYC’s disco revolution of the 1970s and ’80s. It’s a scene that was hugely influential on a young Kerri Chandler and was an important precursor to the house music of which he would go on to be a formative figure. 

The now-legendary American producer and DJ deliver a tough four-to-the-floor remix of the breakbeat-driven original. Kerry Chandler supplies six minutes of bang, foot innit stomp, piano stabs all-day, and grit-to-go.

The reworked track features many of the original core elements and maintains its focus on the iconic sample of Christine Wiltshire’s refrain “I Can’t Take The Heartbreak” from the ‘83 disco anthem “Weekend” by Class Action, delivered over Chandler’s signature swung rhythm and bass. 

DANGEROUS CURVES, SOURCE DIRECT

Spanning two tracks, the new EP coming from esteemed drum and bass producer Source Direct will come out on limited-edition, picture-disk vinyl through Dutch drum & bass label Tempo Records. Dangerous Curves will be the third release in the imprint’s Speed series, following EPs by DJ Krust and DJ Trace in 2020. Filled with expertly chopped breakbeats and deep sub-aquatic resonant bass lines, it’s peak drum and bass material. Formerly a duo, Source Direct is now helmed by Jim Baker following Phil Aslett’s departure in 1998. 

NUBIYAN TWIST, “IF I KNOW” (FEAT. K.O.G.)

Come for hard-hitting Afrobeat horn lines, jazz elements, and dubbed-out production. Stay for the soul meets global styles with top-level musicianship and lyrics. Dare I say it? If “If I Know” (feat K.O.G.) is a taste of what Nubiyan Twist has cooking on their long-player coming in March, we will be talking about them again in December.

BEATCHILD, NOSTALGIA: BEATS OF 2008-2020

It’s been a journey from Slakah the Beatchild, to Beatchild & The Slakadeliqs, and now simply Beatchild. Regardless of his current artistic incarnation, Canadian musician, producer, and songwriter Byram Joseph first arrived on the BBE label back in 2008 with Soul Movement Vol.1, a timeless hip hop fusion record with lush live acoustic instrumentation and guest appearances from Drake, Divine Brown, and Shad, to name a few.

For Nostalgia: Beats of 2008 – 2020, out January 29th, Beatchild has selected his favorite cuts from his first three BBE albums, presenting instrumental versions for the first time alongside previously unreleased bonus tracks recorded over the last 12 years. These instrumentals let Beatchild’s natural musical aesthetic breathe, reframing his warm, uncluttered productions and letting his smooth, blunted, soulful beats speak for themselves.

John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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