Fluxblog 412: 21st century Jock Jams
Plus new songs from JPEGMAFIA/Danny Brown, Nia Archives, 100 Gecs, and Neggy Gemmy
This week’s playlist is 21st CENTURY JOCK JAMS, a collection of ultra-hype sports arena staples from the past 22 years. This came out of a conversation I had about the original Jock Jams collections from the 90s, and thinking about how this aesthetic has evolved in this century. It’s very fun and useful as a workout mix! [Spotify | Apple | YouTube]
There are two aspects of “Lean Beef Patty” that I find striking and surprising – the first being the way JPEGMAFIA’s track has this very abrasive and frenetic IDM-ish sound that’s pretty close to the more accessible end of the Autechre catalog, and then how low he and Danny Brown’s voices are in the mix relative to the beats and keyboards. By the time Brown shows up on the track the keyboards are so loud he’s nearly drowned out, as though his voice is a secondary element in the composition like on a shoegaze record. This is a wild thing to do with a larger than life rapper like Brown, but then again you’d need someone with a bold voice like his to stand up to the chaotic volume and density of JPEGMAFIA’s track.
Buy it from Amazon.
One thing I find very appealing about the resurgence of drum and bass ultra-fast beat programming is that in many cases the music being made has a very chill vibe, so bursts of frantic percussion either serve as a sharp contrast with everything else in the arrangement or an element that becomes chill despite itself. It makes sense to me as I’ve always felt this sort of percussion in an ASMR way, it sparks a sort of pleasing tingling sensation in my brain. It’s also like finding calm within chaos – the beats may come at breakneck speed, but there’s still a steadiness within it.
Nia Archives’ music seems like the result of a mission to seamlessly and cleverly work drum and bass programming into different types of songs, like a contestant on a cooking show tasked with being creative in their use of ingredients with seemingly limited utility. “Sunrise Beat Ur Head Against Tha Wall” does both of the things I described above – bursts of percussion drop in out of nowhere but the dynamic shift isn’t too jarring because they end up feeling just as meditative as the considerably more relaxed piano part or the warm, soothing quality of her voice. The contrasts are extreme, but the overall sensation is much closer to equilibrium than chaos.
Buy it from Amazon.
A lot of 100 Gecs sounds to me like two people pulling together random fond memories of the 2000s and synthesizing it all into something that’s simultaneously rooted in the past and sounds further into the future than most people are living right now. “757” is a wild impressionistic blur of rap lyrics and pop-punk hooks, all scrambled up like Max Tundra and played back at a nighcore tempo. It’s playful and silly and deliberately annoying, but also so well-crafted that listening to it once more or less dooms you to hearing the main hook repeating in the back of your brain for days on end. It sounds like musical amphetamine but it’s about weed, it revels in trashiness but there’s a real sophistication to what they’re doing.
Buy it from Amazon.
“Black Ferrari” is such a well composed dance pop song that it took me a while to even grasp the fun production trick Neggy Gemmy pulls off by switching the beat up from standard modern pop to house to industrial and back around again. The transition from essentially an early 00s Kylie Minogue vibe to more of a mid-90s Prodigy sound is especially thrilling to me, it’s like a brilliant DJ set move written into the arrangement of the song. The transition from ecstatic to tense deepens the mood, but then the switch back to house ends up feeling ten times more ecstatic.
Buy it from Bandcamp.
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• Jem Asward of Variety wrote an obit for Jim Gordon, one of the greatest session drummers of all time. You have 100% definitely heard his playing – a few career highlights include “You’re So Vain,” “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number,” “Layla,” “What Is Life,” and “Apache,” which has been sampled in countless rap classics – but his struggle with mental illness was so severe that he murdered his own mother during a psychotic break.