Yup, another week where I’ve slipped behind schedule. From Midweek Beats + Pieces to End of Week Beats + Pieces. That said, it is December, and when you get to the twelve month of the year, people really start checking out early. Anyway, before I check out completely, here’s another newsletter. This week’s photographs were shot on Portra 800 film with an Olympus MJU II camera, before being developed and scanned by Wellington Photographic Supplies.
WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING:
I profiled Lucia Ablett, aka Emcee Lucia for Audio Culture. In 2003, Ablett became the first woman in Aotearoa New Zealand to release a hip-hop album. This is her story, but it’s also the story of Wellington and Auckland’s 90s hip-hop scenes, and how things changed in the early 2000s. Many threads and strands dovetailing together here.
It isn’t live yet, but I’ve also written up a feature on pioneering New Zealand Swingbeat/New Jack Swing group Semi MCs for Audio Culture. In the 90s, they released two cult 12”s, ‘Set Your Body Free’ and ‘Trust Me’. That should be online early next week. Before the end of the year, I plan to wrap this Aotearoa Hip-Hop feature series up with profiles of Kos 163 and DJ Shan (Dunedin).
Speaking of which, the Aotearoa Hip-Hop Instagram page is ticking along nicely. If you’d like to see some great archival scene photos from the 90s, check it out here. And if you haven’t listened yet, the podcast series is also going up on Spotify and Apple Music on a week-by-week, episode-by-episode basis.
One more bit of foreshadowing: I’m going to be on Radio New Zealand’s Music 101 show, talking about Arooj Aftab’s resplendent Vulture Prince album. More details soon.
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING:
On Tuesday the 7th of December, the great Black American writer, musician, and producer Greg Tate passed away, aged 64. In 2016, Hua Hsu wrote a splendid article for The New Yorker about how Tate’s writing convinced him that criticism could be art. Now seems like as good a time as any to revisit it.
In equally sad news, this week also brought us the death of the legendary Jamaican bassist Robbie Shakespeare, one half of Sly & Robbie. If you like reggae music, part of why you like it because of the work these guys did as a rhythm section. Here’s David Katz on Shakespeare for The Guardian.
Bonus: 95bFM’s DJ Stinky Jim has uploaded a special he put together on Sly & Robbie in 1997 on his Mixcloud page. As well as music, it features interviews with them. Listen here.
Dr Aleisha Ward has been writing about early New Zealand jazz radio DJs on her blog. Read the latest installment in her series here.
Revered by James Baldwin and David Bowie, Jim Morrison and Gore Vidal, the City of Night visionary has long shattered literary boundaries and sexual taboos with style and brilliance. In his 90th year, L.A.’s finest living writer discusses his heroes and inspirations, the anti-gay and anti-Mexican prejudices he’s weathered and the wisdom accrued over a miraculous life. Jeff Weiss interviews John Rechy for theLAnd.
In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi have put together a guide to British folk-rock stalwart John Martyn’s Deep Cuts, B Sides and Rarities. It’s well-worth checking out.
Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson has written a brief but fascinating story about the man who popularized The Beatles in Savai’i, Samoa. I’d love to see this adapted into some sort of documentary.
WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO:
Juke Bounce Werk Presents, JBDUBZ Vol. 9 (Juke Bounce Werk)
42 dancefloor weapons from a selection of emerging and established producers from across the globe. Juke, footwork, house, jungle, breaks, 160. Get in and get familiar.
Headboggle, Digital Digital Analog (Ratskin Records)
P-funk meets cinematic synthesiser jazz? Honestly, I don’t know much about Headboggle yet, but Digital Digital Analog has been getting a lot of spins here over the last week. It’s a vibe.
L’Rain, Fatigue (Mexican Summer)
All I have to say here is three words, “Believe the hype.”