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Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 2

January 31, 2008

I bought my first bassline record—a 12" on Heatseeker Records by TS7 called "Flip Flop VIP"—before I really knew what bassline was. I had been keeping a lazy eye on this Agent X-owned label since their debut tune, a dark garage roller called "Decoy," first came out towards the end of UK garage's heyday. Since then, the imprint had released a steady stream of subsequent forms of garage, mostly produced by Agent X themselves. Highlights included grimey bangers like "Killahertz" and "Nasty Bonanza," a collaboration with Nasty Crew. Then, last spring Heatseeker put out TS7's debut EP. The rest, as they say, is erm, not very important right now. More relevantly, this week I heard the news that TS7's remix of "American Boy" by Estelle will be coming out with the single on Atlantic in March—almost exactly a year after I first stumbled across him.

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TS7 came to prominence in the bassline scene with his remix of Agent X's "Perfect Girl", so it's also interesting to hear rumours that the track may be getting a major label re-release. Unfortunately it looks like it will be the uncharacteristically dreadful original, with added verses from grime MC and sometimes-Dizzee-soundalike, Tinie Tempah, that will be released, and not the remix. Agent X have recently made a video for the song, which evokes painful memories of the one that accompanied True Steppers and Dane Bowers feat. Victoria Beckham's vocoded aural monstrosity "Out of Your Mind". Alas, maybe the whole thing won't be so bad if it means some more decent bassline remixes.

Late last winter I finally went to see TS7 at a night up in Leeds called Bass Injection. While buying a bottle of Smirnoff Ice at the bar so as not to look conspicuous (everyone else seemed to be drinking these or bottles of WKD Blue, which they held at arm's length down by their hip and swung about as they danced), I got chatting to the promoter, a middle-aged guy called C Flex. He informed me he had been promoting raves "since before [I] was a pickney." He was obviously putting his stupefyingly vast years of experience to good use, was C Flex, since tonight just happened to be a near faultless all-star bassline lineup. The bill included 1Xtra's DJ Cameo and DJ Q, Mr V, DJ Murkz, Apostle, Witty Boi, Nastee Boi plus too many more to name. Everyone played half hour sets and weirdly they all didn't seem to mind playing lots of the same tunes. I lost count the number of times I heard TS7's remix of "Baby" by Cheeksta, but this didn't seem to affect anyone's enjoyment of the night. There is no warmup in bassline. From the minute I arrived the DJs were drawing for the big, crowd-pleasing tunes. There is also not a lot of variation in the music – most songs seem to have a slightly stripped down intro before launching into a behemothic bass drop. They start in fifth gear and then get faster and more banging until the police come and shut down the rave at the end (police vans often congregate outside big bassline events since they are associated with trouble). After five hours of high-fiving random people on E and dancing with my bottle of Smirnoff Ice, I was pretty exhausted. As I left at 4 AM for the long drive back to London it sounded like the DJ had reached +10 on his CDJs, with two more hours of the night still to go.

It's true what people say about bassline being popular with girls. Every time a big tune would come on, these girls would run to the dancefloor and start waving their gunfingers.

Science, a pretty incidental contestant from Big Brother's sixth series in the UK, was there having fun.

The guys aren't afraid to vogue-out a bit at bassline nights, as demonstrated by this dude on the right.

Here is Amy Winehouse's manager, who lives in Hackney but was up in Leeds for the weekend for his little niece's Christening, he told me.

Posted: January 31, 2008
Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 2