08 September 2010
The Hypnagogic Haze of Southern Hiphop
Listening to the "Chopped & Screwed" albums of Chamillionaire's The Sound Of Revenge and David Banner's Mississippi can be a joy in the tropical heat of where I come from: blasting the slowed-down, stretched and hypnotizing beats and acrobatics of the words by these rap acts while driving through the hot tarmac roads, windows wound down allowing the scorching breeze to cruise through the inside of the moving car while the music interacts with the surrounding sounds and traffic is simply hazy and groggy.
The origin of the "Chopped & Screwed" sounds came from a home-based DJ based in Houston before he passed in November 2000. Calling himself DJ Screw, his home-brew sonic alchemy and the subsequently released mixtapes (mix CDs too) became the next point of progression in the evolution of the creativity of Southern Hiphop in the 1990s. Allegedly influenced by syrup and the weed, the music of DJ Screw and the "Chopped & Screwed" albums can be considered as the manifestations of post-Cold War psycho-lysergia and bodily lethargy. Oozing with dreaded beat deconstructions, their musics are both a copped-out as well as an up-yours to the increasingly paranoid world of neo-liberalism championed by the Bush administration, the supposedly indestructible financial powerhouses (well at least that was the perception of the world and the companies before September 2008) and the hegemonic transnational corporations.
So is music today a form of copping out and myopic up-yours too? Hypnagogic Pop and its attendant musical allies in Hauntology are seemingly a-political; whereas the need for political activism is more pertinent than ever, is H-Pop merely just lull us into a state of resignation? Or perhaps providing us with a platform to really, tapping into the past and re-imagining a future which today seems so foreclosed and doomed?
By the way, a perfect soundtrack to mull over the above:
Dagger Swords - Dagger Paths (An excellent hip-hop inspired English underground sonic hypnosis) on an excellent record label, Olde English Singing Bee.