If language, as William S. Burroughs said, is a virus, then music is its most virulent and mutable form, infecting you and transforming itself until suddenly everyone you know is dancing to gabber. Especially in the fast-paced, often producer-centric worlds of hip-hop and dance music, new genres seem to pop up faster than coked-up journalists can assign them names. Here's some names you might have seen tossed around lately, with my completely scientific ratings of their legitimacy as truly "different" than music that came before and their potential for longevity.
Niche / Bassline House
Calling a niche "Niche" is like naming your baby "Baby," but that's what they're calling it. I'd been noticing a return to the sound of speed garage in recent DJ mixes, which was kind of interesting; that genre (defined by its fast 4/4 house beat, wandering bassline and goofy sped-up vocals) was inextricably linked to silly rave subculture, so it seemed like the only real evidence of a "new rave" resurgence. The new sound is darker and stranger, and taking over dancefloors in northern England. Compare and contrast:
Speed Garage Mix:
Bassline House Mix:
Difference From Previous Music Rating (10 being most original): 3
Longevity Rating (10 being almost forever): 1.3
The new sound of Chicago, Juke has at its center an interesting mathematical situation: current hip-hop's sluggish tempos are exactly half that of the speediest ghetto house. How convenient! So you can have a typical, languid, almost-crunk sound in the verses, and then explode in the chorus to a double-time techno freakout. Appropriately, the associated dance is crazily fast-paced. It's already produced a mini-hit, in Dude N Nem's "Watch My Feet":
Difference From Previous Music Rating (10 being Yoko Ono): 7
Longevity Rating (10 being The Beatles): 3
Perhaps Boston producers felt insecure enough about this style's similarity to that other "B" town, Baltimore, to include their city in the name of the style? Both of them feature the syncopated "cha-cha" bass drum, but the difference is in the hi hat: Boston's got a swing, which is weird to my ears, since that doesn't quite match up with the bass drum. It effectively mellows the whole sound out a little, often with reggae-style snares on beat three instead of beats two and four.
Listen to or download DJ C's Boston bounce mix here.
Difference From Previous Music Rating (10 being Philip Glass): 4
Longevity Rating (10 being Chopin): 1.7
Philip Sherburne writes convincingly (er, on his blog) that "blog house" isn't really a musical genre, it's just stuff that nerdy writers might like, and that sounds good on computer speakers: minimal, melodic, "foregoing traditional notions of audio craftsmanship." It's French, it's German, it's making me uncomfortable writing about it on a blog.
Cool promo video for the new Ed Banger comp:
Ratings n/a since it's not a real genre!!
Well, The Pack, I know that national awareness of the goofy Bay Area hip-hop genre known as hyphy has already lasted about, oh, 20 minutes, so it makes sense you'd want to invent a new genre to distinguish yourselves. Unfortunately, if this little promo spot is any indication, only your now-creaky single "Vans" had anything new about it:
Ratings not statistically valid until second piece of music in the genre is released.
More exciting new genres to be blogged about here soon