Son Raw is his own micro-genre.
American Hip-hop and European electronic music have shared an interesting dance this decade. Once divided by community, culture, and equipment, the two genres have grown closer together than they have been since the start — with acts on both sides leading the rapprochement. There’s been good and bad: for every innovative Kanye production or genre bending Night Slugs plate, there’s been a Pitbull single or useless electro-trap micro trend. Yet the overall result has been positive: hip-hop gained new textures and techniques, and dance music new rhythmic innovations.
Zora Jones has been quietly operating in this space for a minute as a DJ, often alongside partner in crime and fellow maximalist Sinjin Hawke. I first caught her a few years back during a set where she mixed Cam’ron’s “I Really Mean it” into Footwork, the kind of move that will earn you my endearing loyalty. 100 Ladies, her debut EP as a producer, essentially takes this idea as a starting point, and blows it up into weirder, more abstract material. Dark and groovy where Sinjin’s stuff is colossal and serotonin boosting, it’s certainly dance floor compatible, but it doesn’t force itself onto that space – it’s actually the rare EP to come with an interactive, immersive website where that format actually makes sense, given the kind of digital, computerized world the music conjures. When her camp sent it over, I was warned it “wasn’t grime” but in all actuality, this explores the same territory that makes (the more abstract side of) that genre so interesting to me: the combination of futurism and a rootedness in street culture.
The deeper we get into this century, the more I look for music that makes sense of our constant technological and social acceleration. I need emcees to rap faster because life moves faster than it did in the 90s. Reviving old fashions doesn’t just bore me because there’s nothing new – seeing someone dress up like a Rockabilly greaser or a hippie feels is the artistic equivalent of sticking your head in the sand and pretending today’s issues don’t exist. Dance music is oft accused of being apolitical, but listening records like this and thinking of just how WEIRD this type of stuff would be just a few years ago, the year 1 university chestnut that “the medium is the message” never felt truer. 2015 is fast and chaotic and I need music that matches.