Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 13

April 24, 2008

Watching Kano progress as an MC reminds me in some ways of a time-lapse video of a decaying apple I once saw at the Tate Modern. (Note: the video I linked to is not the same one, but I do believe it portrays equally as vivid an image, nonetheless.) In case that is too complex a metaphor for some readers, what I'm saying is he's getting worse. And very quickly. At the start of the week his new mixtape, MC No. 1, arrived in the post. It makes for painful listening. There are pointless versions of stuff like "My Name Is" and "Crank Dat"; his slowed-down flow sounds lazy, and he does this weird screechy ad-lib thing that makes him sound like Scooby-Doo.

Last week on an episode of My Super Sweet 16 UK an aspiring WAG (that is the wife or girlfriend of a soccer football player, Americans) called Lauren had a special guest performer at her birthday. Rumours among her party of annoyingly rich but infinitely tasteless young guests were that Kanye West was to be the act performing on this most special of nights. It soon transpired that the surprise performer was in fact Kano, who was greeted with a wave of apathy by the horrified and underwhelmed guests. Listening to the opening bars of Kanye West's "Stronger" on MC No. 1 and then hearing Kano, not Kanye, come in I could genuinely sympathise with how those poor children must have felt. Check out some of the tracks from the mixtape on his MySpace page.

To see how badly he has lost it, check this old video clip of Kano in his heyday on what looks like Deja Vu FM. Notice Marcus Nasty in the white hat (who I will be talking more about next week) lurking in the background.

Ghetto f. Devlin, "Buss 1"

Ghetto has long existed in the shadow of Kano, but on recent form it's hard to see how that was ever the case. His new mixtape, Freedom Of Speech, is almost faultless from start to finish. I ignored it for months because his previous effort, Ghetto Gospel, was an awful, shitty hip-hop-filled mess. But Freedom is genuinely great. At points on the above track (produced by Lewi White) Ghetto reminds me of Busta Rhymes at his best.

I realise this is supposed to be a column on grime and bassline and other such things from the UK, but this week I'm breaking the rules slightly. Earlier this month, the seventh annual UK Cup Clash—a gathering of the biggest reggae selectors from around the world—took place at the Stratford Rex. I couldn't make it, but thanks to 1Xtra no one needs to miss out on what happened. Download part one of the show here and part two here.

Highlights include Ricky Trooper from Killimanjaro repeatedly calling host Robbo Ranx a "pussy" and then offering to fight him outside after being eliminated from the competition, and the boundless knowledge expounded by David Rodigan before playing each record. If you insist on a tenuous grime link, Tony Matterhorn played a dub by Bashy, but it was that awful "Black Boys" song, which is so horrendous it pretty much doesn't count. Also, this very column was kind of named after Jamaican soundsystem Bass Odyssey, who took on David Rodigan in the final.

Finally, to tie up this week's column, check this really good mix of dancehall, garage, bassline and grime by my friend Blaise. Full tracklist here.

Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 13