Thursday, April 1, 2010

Connect The Dots: Lloyd Parks to Vex'd

So I wanted to take a break from gorilla videos and shoe adverts (there's room for it all!) to share something on a slightly less visually stimulating yet more historically oriented tip. Lloyd Parks is a vocalist and bass player who got his start in music during the rocksteady era of Jamaican music. As a backing vocalist and studio musician he has worked with a huge number of the most prominent reggae artists of the time such as Dennis Brown, The Gladiators, The Abyssinians, Prince Far-I, Culture and more. Seriously, this man has worked with everybody! In the 70's he started his own label and produced a number of hit solo releases including the track posted below, "Slaving" (read more...). Park's original version of the song is a socially conscious working man's lament with an incredible organ line by Revolutionaries keyboardist Ansel Collins... The song became a popular riddim and was subsequently versioned/re-voiced by I-roy as "Blackman Time". I-roy's version features a strange whining violin in the background as well as a scripted introductory dialogue that makes it a classic in its own right. The video below contains both the original and the version.

What started this whole search and inspired me to write this post was the album Cloud Seed, by UK Dubstep producers Vex'd released on Planet Mu last month. Vex'd are an amazing duo (currently disbanded I believe) who helped to define the sound of Dubstep in its early days and continue to point the genre in new directions with their solo works.
Most of the album is composed of previously unreleased material and VIP mixes of past releases. It also contains some really interesting remixes of modern neo-classical works(?) which I've never heard of before. While the production on this album is great, on the whole, I find it a little too "atmospheric" or subdued for my taste. However, what inspired me to write this post was a track midway through the album that samples the "Slaving Riddim" posted above. "Disposition" features lyrics from Jest who effectively updates the sufferers them to a post-industrial landscape: "babble about the days we chased the crazed men/who once enslaved men/who once enslaved the operative phrase/now emancipated with operative stations/2nd floor windows of houses dilapidated..." Its questionable whether Vex'd used the sample to refer to Jests lyric or whether he responded to the use of the sample, or neither. Either way I found this track to be an inspiring example of what connects dubstep to dub reggae and hip-hop. Stay tuned for future time-travel connect the dots and reggae flash backs. Safe.

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