Summer’s a mess, this year more than ever. Not only do we have to cope with the usual mix of baking heat, overexcited crowds and a seemingly never-ending run of bad television, the warm months of 2009 come packaged with a recession swamping the globe, a Swine flu pandemic and Dick Cheney hanging around like he’s Fonzie and we’re Mr. C. Happy days indeed.
Thank god for Summer Jamz. Fresh off a Memorial Day honored by frequenting sketchy nightclubs, imbibing copious quantities of alcohol (etc.) and getting excited about being able to wear white again, we at the Passion of the Weiss have knuckled down to work and set about making sure your summer is accompanied by a steady stream of great music, even if it should also be accompanied by unemployment and your neighbors catching their death from a slight cold. We’ll be delivering a summer-themed mixtape right here, every week day, for the next few weeks or so.
And in addition to our Passion regulars, I’ve rounded up the cream of the Internet’s music writers, and charged them with delivering you enough tunes to last until Thanksgiving. But should you, overcome by the heady stench of sunshine and sweat, find you’ve torn too quickly through their contributions, feel free to check out the deep Summer Jamz archive. The 2008 edition was hosted here at the Passion, and prior to that, the now defunct Stylus Magazine ran the feature in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 20062007. If you spend your summer inside reading, I’ll understand. But should you make it outdoors, stuff your iPod with these before you go.
Summer Jamz ’09: Instant Gratification: We Did It 4 Cheap
by Jonathan Bradley
01. [All the Money Interlude] (2:27)
Summer’s here and who has time for anything? The sun’s so bright you can’t go outside, but cooped up indoors you only feel sweaty and stuffy. The heat of the day makes people tetchy, and when the night arrives, the clubs are stuffed with sticky revelers partying too hard. It’s impossible to concentrate on anything for a long period of time, and yet you’re still expected to show up to work every day, like, why can’t your boss give you eight weeks off like they did when you were in school? Summer, more than any other season is utterly obnoxious. It has none of the soft decay of fall, the hushed chill of winter or the tentative awakening of spring. Summer is loud and hyperactive, a rush of novelty, mayhem and ever-shifting, always-fleeting moments of intense thrill. Instant Gratficiation: We Did It 4 Cheap is a mix for that kind of summer. It’s tacky and trashy and afflicted with a serious case of attention deficit disorder. As its title suggests, it’s a jumble of seemingly-thrown together pop tunes; a panoply of lurid synths, smacking beats and gratuitous repetition. It’s loud and rhythmic and opts for shouted catch phrases rather than things that require involved thought, like, you know, lyrics. This is a Summer Jam for those days when it’s too hot, and you’re too restless to concentrate on much of anything.
Kicking things off, the “All the Money” Interlude can’t decide whether it wants to get cash, get naked or just pump the bass. This mix presents strong arguments for doing all three.
02. New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream (2:52)
03. Bossman – Dance My Pain Away (2:29)
“I can give you what you want”: see why I called this Instant Gratification? “Ice Cream” is a little more tuneful than the bangers that follow, but it’s just as forthright. New Young Pony Club cropped up a few years ago as something like a non-Brazilian take on Cansei De Ser Sexy — a marketing own goal if I ever saw one —sounding like the sort of band that existed solely to soundtrack clothing commercials. But as American Apparel adverts demonstrate, sex and capitalism are a heady combination, and if done in just the right way, they’re downright delectable. If NYPC’s slick nouveau new wave reeks too much of fast money, turn instead to Bossman’s cut-rate solution. In “Dance My Pain Away” the Baltimore rapper details a litany of all too authentic hardships — bill collectors, rent payments, child support — but he also presents, in the title, a solution that on a warm summer night is not quite as unconvincing as might be suspected.
04. Ms. Dynamite – Bad Gyal (3:06)
05. Kidbass ft. Sincere – Good Girls Love Rude Boys (2:36)
06. Jimmy Jones – Watch Out for the Big Girl (3:11)
My copy of “Dance My Pain Away” is also credited to Baltimore DJ Rod Lee; any extra enjoyable mixing it features may safely be assumed to be his work rather than mine. In fact, you’ll find more than a few DJ tags strewn throughout this mix, including the “Radio One” stamp that graces Ms. Dynamite’s astoundingly good “Bad Gyal” —I can’t find a copy of this song without it. I know what you’re thinking, though: Ms. Dynamite? Well, she might have won a Mercury Prize, but her new single is actually thrilling, a feverish cocktail of thwacking dancehall beats, squealing violins and riled-up, combative toasting. Following it is a couple more meditations on one of dance music’s preferred subjects: girls. Kidbass bluntly declares the good ones like rude boys, while Jimmy Jones warns about the big ones. With the kind of beats these guys have, I’m inclined to believe anything they have to say on the matter; whatever else they know about girls, they seem to have a good idea about how to get them dancing.
07. Pink Dollaz – I’m Tasty (2:37)
08. Pitbull – Jealouso (4:03)
Pink Dollaz are apparently at the vanguard of some new Los Angeles dance trend known as “jerkin’,” my exposure to which consists entirely of mp3 downloads and YouTube videos. It seems to be typified by looped vocals and bass heavy drum machine beats, which means you can check off two items on your Regional Rap Bingo game (you can put a tick next to explicit sexual references, too, if you like). Given my cursory knowledge, I understand if you want to call me a cultural tourist, but in my defense — who has the money for real tourism these days? Even from the other side of the Pacific Ocean, however, I can tell you that the girls in Pink Dollaz sound like the type Dwayne “Pussy Monster” Carter would be into; “I’m Tasty” is not meant metaphorically. For those into less explicit chatter and tourism that doesn’t involve peer-to-peer traded zip files, Pitbull has a language lesson for you. In Spanish, you see, boys are “jealouso,” while girls are “jealousa.” Take notes; this will be in the exam.
09. Crystal Castles vs HEALTH – Crimewave (3:37)
10. Major Lazer ft. Santigold – Hold the Line (3:12)
I’ll tell you absolutely everything you need to know about “Crimewave” in seven words: “I first heard it on Gossip Girl.” Crystal Castles’ crumbling electro-pop is a polar opposite to the “Apache”-derived dancehall of “Hold the Line” but the two have in common a brutal directness that allows them to hammer their way directly through your eardrums and into your brain.
11. M.I.A. – Bird Flu (3:19)
12. [Swine Flu Interlude] (0:24)
13. Rollin’ G – Swine Flu Skank (2:39)
”Bird Flu” isn’t called “Bird Flu” because it’s infectious or anything. Influenza, whatever the strain, is straight up repulsive, and everything about “Bird Flu” fits that description. Clattering drums, obnoxious squawks and M.I.A.’s chants are individually as uninviting as a deadly disease, but in combination they turn out to be thrillingly discombobulating. Swine Flu, the contemporary contagion, isn’t so inventive, but it’s even more deadly. Rollin’ G’s “Swine Flu” is a song created by the British marketing company Uproar, but it works as well as a dance craze as it does a public service announcement. Lyrics that rhyme “tissue” with “that’s the issue” would usually give the game away, but instead add to the verisimilitude; what’s a UK dance song without a suspect lyric or two?
14. BBU – Chi Don’t Dance (3:22)
15. Rye Rye ft. M.I.A. – Bang (DJ Booman Remix) (3:11)
Back to mining local American dance trends: in this case, two house derivations. “Chi Don’t Dance” is oddly mournful for a juke song, and seems even post-apocalyptic coming on the heels of the literal emergency warning that is “Swine Flu Skank.” The sparseness doesn’t stop it being wildly catchy however, and Rye Rye’s “Bang” follows soon after to cheer up the proceedings. I favor the Booman remix of that song; it seems to make better use of its Baltimore Club components than the more frenetic original.
16. Wiley – Wearing My Rolex (2:12)
17. DJ Class ft. Kanye West – I’m the Shit (Remix) (4:17)
18. Black Eyed Peas – Boom Boom Pow/Black Eyed Peas ft. Gucci Mane & 50 Cent – Boom Boom Pow (Remix) (4:52)
19. K.I.G. – Head, Shoulders, Knees N Toes (4:11)
More Club music here, in the form of DJ Class’s “I’m the Shit.” The tune, with its autotune verses, had more than enough of a basis on its own for crossover status, but Kanye West’s appearance guaranteed its success. DJ Class boasts of having “Diamonds on my neck, Patron in my cup,” but musically, he seems the model of modesty in this company. Wiley and K.I.G. wield bright, blurting keyboard riffs and foolish refrains, but even they are restrained compared to the Black Eyed Peas’ near-guaranteed song of the summer. The popularity of “Boom Boom Pow” is no surprise, but its quality is; will.i.am., Fergie et al have always been unashamedly retarded, but they’ve never been this enjoyable. “Boom Boom Pow” is not so much music as it is fireworks: awesome display and a succession of loud noises. Don’t worry: in less than a millennium, all music will sound like this. B.E.P. is so three-thousand-and-eight, while the rest of us struggle to even be two-thousand-and-late.
20. Rich Boy – Drop (2:49)
21. No Age – Teen Creeps(3:23)
Two different approaches to aural assault: the monster truck bass/jackhammer vocal loop combination of “Drop”, or the bubblegum white noise of “Teen Creeps.” It’s an odd pairing of songs, but I think it works. On first exposure, both seem unlistenable, but soon each reveals itself to be indispensible. Polow Da Don’s “A Milli” rip is more distinctive than most regurgitations of the formula, while Rich Boy’s snarled suggestion that women appropriate cocaine as a crash dieting technique is as sordid and as memorable as No Age’s scuzzed-up guitar blast.
22. Turf Talk ft. E-40 & B-Legit – Doe Boy (3:08)
23. E-40 ft. The Federation – Go Hard or Go Home (3:03)
24. Young Buck ft. Lil’ Scrappy – Money in the Bank (3:51)
And hip-hop’s love affair with the bass drum continues. First comes a pair of tunes from Bay Area rappers Turf Talk and E-40, typified by smacking drums and pleonastic verses. It’s the classic hyphy combination of left-field lyrics paired with maximalist low-end thump; in North California, going dumb is only half the story. “Dumb” is too kind a description for Young Buck’s “Money in the Bank,” however; with its brutalist, three note riff, and cash-register prelude, this hews closer to being irredeemably brain-dead. By that I mean it’s utterly irresistible, of course.
25. Nina Sky – On Some Bullshit (2:55)
This may be a little sweeter than the rest of this mix, but I like to think you deserve a little dessert after your main. And what could be sweeter? The return of Nina Sky comes with a less compelling tune than the Coolie Dance riddim of “Move Your Body,” but its chorus could not be more contagious. The Albino sisters discover something every elementary student understands: there is little more fun to be had than letting fly with a stream of unnecessary curse words. I hope your more wild summer nights end with this blaring out some nearby stereo so you can shout along, over and over: “I’m on some bullshit, fuck what you heard.” It’s even better than cake and ice cream.
26. [XOXO Interlude] (0:29)
As with all good things, even summer must come to an end. You know you love me.