Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Music: Gordon Voidwell

Not to be confused with Gordon Gartrelle, Gordon Voidwell (fka Will Johnson) is a musician probably influenced in some way by the same Cosby Show this blog got it's name from. I don't know that for sure, but I assume so. Yo is that racist? It was such a good show. I mean, that can't be racist.

Gordon Voidwell makes music for cats that used to listen to a lot of underground rap but then got bored with that scene when it started getting... boring. He also makes music for people who aren't rooted in hip-hop, but who want to get down. On certain tracks, he pulls off the difficult task of making political commentary while not jamming it down your throat - using sexy dance beats to undermine that political commentary, but leaving both so you can pick and choose later when his joint's stuck in your head.

When I was a young teenager, music consisted solely of Hot 97, anyone on Def Jux, MF Doom, Juggaknots, J-Live, and that type of thing - never Anticon though. I'd go to Fat Beats every now and then. Percee P would sit outside selling CDs. I idolized mid-90s rap: Boot Camp Clique, Nas, Wu-Tang, etc. But then New York changed...

This is music for people that wanted to dance but couldn't because it was 2000 and New York was still holding on to the glorified age of black hoodies and black timbs that was no longer present. They clinged on to the nostalgia of Nas's Queens and Biggie's Bed Stuy but both of these hoods were changing. The New York of 2000 and onward was not New York of the 1990s. White people moved into town! The police followed them. Jay-Z started rapping about Hermes instead of Nautica. Kids that historically didn't listen to rap or even only listened to underground, started loving Dip Set and not entirely ironically. They liked it because it was FUN. Crunk was happening around the country and the Dips were the closest NY would come to it. While Rap was getting funner and people were leaning and rocking, it wasn't getting any smarter though. It was a very guilty pleasure.

Those are the rap kids that wanted to have fun. This is also music for non-rap people that want to have a good time. Maybe they hate rap/hip-hop songs that include the words "up in the club" because they don't go "clubbing" but still want music that they can dance to - just not in the fictional "club" blacks talk about because maybe that scares them. Maybe their brother got beat up at a "club." They'd prefer their urban dance music to pop off at a "bar" or maybe in the privacy of a Brooklyn apartment one moved to from the Midwest in hopes of following some kind of dream. They try, but they just can't get past the word "club." Beats me!

And so that's what I think. Remember when fools rocked Dapper Dan and danced at rap shows like in the Sugarhill Gang video? Remember when rap was influenced by Disco? Remember that before the NWA was catching on, a dude in California named Egyptian Lover RAN SHIT and did it with 808s and electronic music. Some fools were too hardbody for that and wanted to talk about how life wasn't a party, about how shit was tough in Compton. Some fools wanted to dance their way out of that specific thing - how tough shit was in Compton. Comparisons to Prince are sure to follow, much like they will for Boy Crisis who, while very different and situated in an entirely different scene, are of a similar vein in being rooted in soul and r&b but not purely in a revivalist fashion - aka moving. shit. forward. While on the one hand reclaiming electro-r&b for people of color from bands like Hot Chip, and maybe Boy Crisis though maybe not a la "ethnic band member," Voidwell's equally inspired by that school of music and it shows in his material. If fans of either came to a show for one of them and happened to catch the other, they'd be happy with both. I know I would.

Gordon Voidwell :

Bread (Via ZShare)
White Friends (Via ZShare)

* Also, look out for the DR/GV collaboration joint when that gets done. Yes.
* Also, you may remember Gordon Voidwell/Will Johnson from G Band Free, a "very, very fine band." (Whattup Sam, Whattup Chip, Whattup Jon).

1 comment:

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