Emynd over mat­ter

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos - Casey Sanchez The New Mex­i­can

For more than 20 years, hip-hop has led a par­al­lel life in Chicago dance halls, Bal­ti­more night­clubs, and South Florida street par­ties, where it has de­vel­oped weird, hyper-re­gional quirks. Shorn of its celebrity, money, and staged feuds, this type of hip-hop is bass-heavy club mu­sic that aban­dons lyrical nar­ra­tives and song struc­ture for scan­dalous, shout-out slo­gans and mad­cap dance-floor beats that re­call the do-it-your­self sonic in­no­va­tion of early disco and soul mu­sic.

Here in Santa Fe, Corazón is pre­sent­ing a rare chance for New Mex­i­cans to shake to the drive-time jams that tear up the rush hours in rap’s ur­ban ar­chi­pel­ago. On Satur­day, June 5, the Guadalupe district club plays host to Emynd, a Philadel­phia DJ who has pro­duced records and remixes for Gucci Mane, Young Money, and Bey­oncé. On­stage, he spins the sort of ur­ban dance records that are largely un­avail­able in stores or even the in­ter­net. He’s part of a larger na­tional trend in which South­ern crunk rap­pers and in­die dance DJs have been team­ing up to pro­duce cross­over hits that are as strange and dar­ing to rap fans as they are to in­die-rock fol­low­ers.

“I came up like a hip-hop DJ, but I played more dance mu­sic as I played out more and more,” Emynd said in an in­ter­view with Pasatiempo. Emynd ap­pears at Corazón as part of the club’s monthly dance party, Bodonkadonk. May­nard Del Mar, the dance night’s pro­moter and lead DJ, said he plays Emynd along with other artists try­ing to fuse re­gional hip-hop club mu­sic gen­res. “I play it at Bodonkadonk ev­ery month,” Del Mar said. “I think a lot of peo­ple know it in hip-hop cul­ture, but not ex­actly. I think a lot of peo­ple in in­die cul­ture know it, but not ex­actly. It’s a cross­over event.”

The type of hip-hop club mu­sic that Emynd plays and pro­duces orig­i­nated in black and Latino night­clubs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Un­like a lot of com­mer­cial hip-hop be­ing pro­duced at that time, it was rarely the sub­ject of al­bums and never made its way onto MTV, cir­cu­lat­ing only through mix tapes and un­der­ground par­ties. In New Or­leans, they call it bounce, a hy­per­sex­u­al­ized call-and-re­sponse mu­sic com­posed of Mardi Gras In­dian chants and dance shout-outs (think of the Ying Yang Twins de­mand­ing you to “shake that thing like a salt shaker”). In Mi­ami, peo­ple gy­rate to booty bass, an up-tempo elec­tro-funk style made in­fa­mous by 2 Live Crew. Hous­ton club­bers nod their heads to “chop and screwed,” which are hip-hop songs remixed into slowed-down, bass-heavy tracks that mimic the syrupy ef­fects of recre­ation­ally im­bibed pre­scrip­tion cough medicine, a pop­u­lar prac­tice in the South­ern rap scene. In Chicago, club­bers twist their feet to juke, a fre­netic form of house mu­sic whose 170 beats-per-minute hand claps ride atop warp-speed bass lines. Bal­ti­more Club, a genre re­cently given a na­tional plat­form by un­der­ground rock DJs and HBO’s The Wire, is an ag­gres­sively joy­ous party mu­sic made up of 8/4 break beats and melodic swaths of 1960s Mo­town R & B.

An Emynd show threads all these gen­res to­gether in a beat-matched hodge­podge. Given his roots in Philly’s DJ cul­ture, Emynd plays a heavy help­ing of “club,” the city’s party mu­sic im­ported from nearby Bal­ti­more. “I’m sort of known as a Bal­ti­more club pro­ducer even though I do make a lot of hip-hop and house,” Emynd said. “These songs aren’t seen as ex­per­i­men­tal dance mu­sic in Philly. They are just built into the cul­ture; there [are] cer­tain clas­sics peo­ple know as songs they grew up on. There’s some­thing uniquely lik­able about it. I can play any­where and peo­ple like it be­cause of the nat­u­ral sense of rhythm and its ag­gres­sive­ness. There’s some­thing about it that’s in­fec­tious.”

In­die dance DJs such as Di­plo, Dre Skull, and Steve Aoki have pop­u­lar­ized this mash-up of var­i­ous niche ur­ban club mu­sic gen­res that crit­ics de­ri­sively call hip­ster-hop or blog house. Such la­bels over­look the mu­sic’s work­ing-class ori­gins. While it’s true that Chicago juke and New Or­leans bounce mu­sic have been ob­ses­sively tracked by a sub­cul­ture of largely white, mid­dle­class blog­gers, most peo­ple mak­ing this mu­sic are young, ur­ban African Amer­i­cans who re­lease their ma­te­rial through lo­cal chan­nels.

Un­like hip-hop, this new street mu­sic is not yet a ve­hi­cle for na­tional fame. In­stead, it re­calls rap’s ori­gins as a cathar­tic party mu­sic for a largely work­ing-class cul­ture, fus­ing hip-hop’s street bravado with dance mu­sic’s elec­tronic quirks. In­ter­net boom aside, it re­mains fiercely lo­cal. “It’s still re­ally dif­fi­cult to get your hands on good New Or­leans bounce, juke, or go-go,” Emynd said. “I’m re­ally into bounce, and it’s very dif­fi­cult for me to find. And I’ve got fairly good con­nec­tions.”


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