Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tribute to the MC ZULU

I was at Resonate 3 a couple weekends ago and it was perfect.

See, I'm a slightly-old-school Chicago party person-- I first fell in love with electronic music in '99 at an outdoor rave in Wisconsin (see my Tribute to MC Brace...). My favorite moments are ALWAYS when I see some live rhyme fire.

I've seen some of the best under optimal conditions-- raving with Freaky Flow & MC Flipside (from Toronto), KRS-One, and Jamalski (from NY) back at the turn of the Millenium (Live on the Decks in 2000); checking out the mic specialists at Bass By The Pound's Seminar when it was at the Bigwig (UK's Skibadee, GQ, Fearless, Rage, Rhymetyme) and Red Dog (MC? from the West Coast). Kool Keith at Metro and out in the Las Vegas desert (Vegoose), Damian Marley in the Las Vegas desert. Eyedea and Abilities, El-P, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, and other jux mercenaries at the Metro. Learning that a Lil Jon concert at The Rave in Milwaukee was more like a rock concert-- but with a bunch of bonafide local hip-hop youngsters as opening acts. I remember meeting local jungle MCs like Subzero, Kid Entropy, and others at The Liar's Club and Rapture and other clubs around Chi-town.

But recently, I haven't seen much of anything. That's my fault. Fall of 2006 I remember feeling really nice at reggae events at Darkroom. Then various distractions kept me away for the last year and a half (maybe I was in a death metal phase... maybe I was busy with career, relationship, etc.). But that just changed!!!

When I walked into Resonate the other day, I was delighted to see JagOff perform. Shit, it was synchronicity, because I've been obsessed with gangsta rap lately, and I was perfectly stoked to see our own Southside rhyme spitters at a rave. But the absolute highlight of my party, if a party as good as Resonate can have a single highlight-- was our Chicago man MC Zulu rockin' with Jeekoos in the early morning. Subliminal and deep, cold flow-- just like I like it. It was totally unexpected, and it goes up there with my best party moments ever.

So, now I'm sitting at work, plugged into the cybernet, and I am bloody delighted to learn that the Zulu has some recorded material out there. Inspired by his suggstions at www., I went and bought Ghislain Poiriers' No Ground Under, Kush Arora's Brooklyn to San Fransisco, Aceyalone's Lightning Strikes, Bionik's Supernovacaine, DJ C's Sound Weapon, and of course, Zulu's Riddim Killer. These releases, all featuring Zulu vocals, cover the gamut of the sonic underground-- from subterranean-cyborg hip-hop to dubstep and glitch to dancehall and bhangra-inflected bass.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself-- "dude, this guy has too much money to blow, and is pretty obsessed with buying music." Well, that's true, other than that I'm in debt. But I haven't bought a certified "underground" record in a long time. Maybe one in the last year. Now, I know that the music experience cannot be "commodified". Nonetheless, people are still going to have awesome live music experiences at a party, and then they are going to want to try to buy it on CD. It's human nature, I can't help it. To this extent, I am really happy when my favorite underground MCs records some vocals, and Zulu has some great material out there. I want to buy something that I have a personal connection to-- something my local MC/hype man puts on the table.

Hell-- I recently bought about 45 Spragga Benz riddim tracks off iTunes because I figured he had the coldest flow out there, then literally spent days compiling them into a couple mixtapes. I just got obsessed with Lil Wayne and Lil Boosie and spent a small fortune on mixtapes. I would LOVE to see Lil Wayne or Spragga at a party-- but that's probably not gon happen (plus, no matter how interesting one of their concerts would be, my culture is still with the rave/Burning Man scene). My best music experiences are going to be at parties, and the most cutting edge sound is going to come out of the underground. Which makes MC Zulu more relevant than those guys, at least to me.

That said, I love that Zulu does riddim albums, since that shows that he has the versatility to do commercial-style slacky dancehall as well as the meditative underground dubstep (one of the commentators for apparently doesn't agree, but when I saw that Dizzee Rascal is being released on Def Jux, and is working with Bun B of UGK, I was like, "damn! that's hot". Sometimes being underground and being commercially viable are not mutually exclusive). If you think about some of the famous old-school toasters out there, like Mega Banton or Cutty Ranks, you get the idea that they could hold it down on a mainstream tip but also do more avant-garde sounds).

I'm looking forward to seeing Zulu with The Aggrolytes and local reggae band The Drastics on April 25. In the meantime, "thank you" MC Zulu! Keep doing what you are doing! You've convinced me to dive back into the underground!


Kathryn said...

Stop spending money on cds that you could be spending on me! I don't care how 'cold their flow' is.

That is all. :)


Haha! Who is this "Kathryn" person? Oh, $#^t! It's the boss!