Every week resident FADER selector Eddie STATS runs through dancehall riddims and other artifacts from the ghetto archipelago.
Just like those old “2 Bad DJ” LPs that alternated tunes between artists of a similar vibe, this is a Ghetto Palms split seven dedicated to two of the youngest guns in dancehall. Laden (aka Jim Laden) and Bramma (di bomber) are both protégés of Stephen McGregor—a super-producer who in any sane universe would be too young to have protégés of his own. Both came to my attention with tunes on the Day Break riddim which launched this column. Both stood out on subsequent Big Ship riddims like Day Rave and WorkOut, not to mention other jugglings I’ve featured like Rum Punch and Heatstroke. And both have such a similar whispery singjay vibe that I sometimes get them confused.
On closer inspection, Laden is taller and gumpier and more of a falsetto singer while Bramma (di bomber) is shorter and more solid built—and vocally comes down ever so slightly on the deejay side of the lispy singjay equation. The vocal style they share definitely lends itself to the fast, 2-steppy bashment tracks that are McGregor’s signature but the joints I’m focusing on here are different, and somehow (surprise!) carves out a genre of their own. Rap-tempo stuff that is vocally dancehall but musically sounds like piano and theremin-driven pop--the sound of young Jamaica??
Laden, “Really Like You”
Laden, “Time to Shine”
Laden, “Working Hard”
Download: Ghetto Palms Laden Blend
Bramma, “Guided by the Master”
Download: Bramma, "Guided by the Master"
Bramma, “Clouds Open”
Download: Bramma, "Clouds Open"
Not only have genres splintered into a million tiny pieces in this Ghetto Palms archipelago, but just like the old 24-hour news cycle has tightened into smaller and smaller data packs, so with the cycles of influence in music. It’s like Serani barely has time to get an LP out before there is a whole squad of post-Serani artists. This sound seems to find the common denominator between Serani’s adult/contemporary dancehall, Demarco, Akon and Ricky Blaze plus a little bit of Determine and Club Nouveau dropped in just for randomness.
I don’t know if it’s art but I like it.
For once, though, I don’t have a micro-genre name to set this one off. Pop is obviously a little too broad, even though Laden, Bramma and McGregor seem to have arrived at the same place Kanye did on “Amazing” (or Akon did on "I Can't Wait") from three different directions. “Auto-croon” fits but not exactly—this shit doesn’t sound like T-Pain for instance…nor Zapp nor Daft Punk, as far as that goes. It’s not really dark enough to clump up with the “Gun-drop” of the Daseca/Alliance JA rap sound. I’ll work on it. Meanwhile, send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.