I love Relax

Live in PanamaA few years ago I was introduced to the Dutch hip hop band “Relax”. If you’ve heard of them you probably love them… If you’ve never heard of them you’re certainly not alone… try googling them; hardly anything… they don’t even have an entry on Wikipedia.

The band was formed in 1998 by a few guys from Harlem (the Dutch one) who decided they wanted to make live hip hop. I’ll repeat that. Live. Hip Hop. No backing tracks, no loops, no nothing. Just drums, bass, guitars and decks (for scratching). (ok, there is a studio recorded intro)

The result? In 2002 they recorded their début album “Live in Panama”. To say this band is brilliant demeans the very word “brilliant”. It’s a live album. Let me repeat because I know you aren’t paying attention. Live album recording of hip hop… If you don’t know how incredibly talented you have to be to pull that off you should rather just stick to your latest Britney album. If you want to hear one of the best drummers in the world hold back and play flawlessly for an hour, I suggest you get this album. It doesn’t get any tighter.

They’ve released many more albums over the years but I doubt anything will come close to the awesome raw honesty of the “Live in Panama” album.

A piece of my history.



The mark of a true DJ…

Kitty’s party was on Saturday night. It was inside the Simons Town Naval Base. Two things struck me here.

1. Why do we spend so much any money on naval vessels for South Africa and then let people like me say “I’m here for the party” and drive right in… and I mean *in*! On our way out we got lost and ended up staring at huge friggen submarines just sitting there while we drove past. These things are big. Not USA nuclear submarine big, but still big enough to put a little frog in your throat as you run through what you’re going to say when stopped by 10 men with semi automatic assault rifles asking why the hell you are driving around “secure” parts of the naval base in your unofficial looking Polo.

2. You get two types of DJs in the world. Those whose names you recognise and those that have custom wooden boxes to carry the 400 cd’s they take to every gig. As a tribute to these legends of the underworld I present my top 10 ways to spot an underworld DJ.

1. Has home-made wooden boxes to carry the 400 CDs he carefully selected for this gig.

breathless.jpg2. Not only does he have the Kenny G Breathless CD, but he chooses to display it proudly as if it was some limited edition Vinyl of the Beatles before they were cool.

3. He will arrange all his gear out on the biggest table he can find and will have brought all manner of unnecessary equipment (FM Tuner etc) to the party… Because everyone knows, second to having a shit-ton of CDs with you, the next most impressive thing a DJ can do is have lots and lots of gear.

4. The speakers will be home made. The amplifier might be too but I couldn’t bring myself to look. There might also be an impressive array of home made or cash converters purchased “lights”.

5. He also has the latest Timberland.

6. Instead of playing a well know Tina Turner track, he will chose to bust out the one obscure Tina track that you have never heard, despite that road trip to Durban when you were 7 when your mom went through that Tina Turner phase.

7. He will play rave music… Not stuff that old people label as “rave music”, but actual, real deal rave music that the ex-ravers in the room recognize and start breaking out in a cold sweat over.

8. He will play Mambo Number 5 and the old lady in the wheelchair will wave her hands in the air like she just doesn’t give a fuck any more care.

9. He will have a helper, usually a younger relative who looks like he gets beaten up at school. This kid will be wearing his sunday best with his shirt tucked in. He will usually be found frantically searching through the 400 CDs looking for the Coolio – Gangstas Paradise CD… Despite the fact that this CD predates his birth. This is also known as child abuse. There is a small part of this child’s mind that is being infected with the idea that this is cool… that this is how he could make his millions and get the chicks. Child A-B-U-S-E.

10. Despite the shockingly random choice of music the people will be too drunk to notice and be shaking their whatnots on the dance floor.

Kitty it was totally rad seeing you and I can’t wait to spend more time with you before you go home.


Civil Twilight releases Human as a free download (or you can pay)

human.jpgMany many years ago I used to organise gigs for a few kids from Hout Bay… (Ok, I was a kid at the time too, but it makes this story sound more awesome)

Anyway, a few years ago they went to Los Angeles and recorded an album. The album (which is awesome) has been out for a while now but they’ve finally decided to do the right thing and release it as a free download or a $5 download or a $10 CD. You can download it for free or buy it here.

This shouldn’t surprise you unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months. Radiohead launched their new album as a potentially free download a few months ago (Well, you could pay whatever you felt was fair)… critics said nobody would buy something they could get for free and the eventual sales numbers would reflect it. Well, the sales numbers reflected it… just not the way the critics had expected. Number 1 in the US and the UK.

Tom Yorke even said they’d made more money from the digital (paid for) downloads of In Rainbows than all their other digital downloads to date. To understand what that means you need to know how many albums Radiohead has and how many million songs they’ve probably sold on places like iTunes… The difference is that unlike previous albums where the proceeds were divided up between Apple (iTunes), various record labels, publishers and distributors, oh, and that band called Radiohead — this time it was all theirs.

The bottom line here is really the question:

What’s worth more: Having a million people listening to your music or money in the bank?

Luckily if you’re Radiohead you already have both… Let’s see if Civil Twilight can do a bit of both.

Oh, they have an awesome video here