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Do It!

I was in the Russian Bar on Kingsland Road ONE recent chilly January night for some after hours drinking. As the mist gathered down outside, I became acquainted with a young Polish girl who told me tales of a new type of music called crunkczar coming...
Κείμενο Prancehall



I was in the Russian Bar on Kingsland Road ONE recent chilly January night for some after hours drinking. As the mist gathered down outside, I became acquainted with a young Polish girl who told me tales of a new type of music called crunkczar coming from her homeland. Her name was Milene Karalowski. I think. It’s hard to remember as I was heavily tranquilised on a concoction of Benylin and copious amounts of dark rum and coke. She was equally as tranquilised on something stronger, which she shovelled up her nose with a 10p piece while her squatter friends looked on. Despite this ungainly sight, there was something about her. She had amazing, curly, flowing brown hair, and was dressed in a vest top despite the winter cold and really unsightly boot-cut jeans that only perfect, virginal Eastern European maidens can pull off. She had that refined air of don’t-give-a-shit-ness and general uncleanliness that can only mean a divorced and hugely wealthy writer father who ran off to Paris to indulge in multiple mistresses and bottles of Bordeaux that cost more than an average terraced house in Bromley. Her mother was probably a failing minor artist who sat at home all day on Valium wondering whether all of this has any purpose or whether Sylvia Plath had the right idea after all. It’s only those who can afford to walk away that ever choose a life of downers and squat-living. It turns out that ketamine and squat-living are pretty integral to crunkczar. According to Milene, due to the extremity and aggressiveness of the dancing the music causes in its listeners it wasn’t initially acceptable in mainstream clubs, forcing it underground into squats and illegal venues. The type of dance, referred to as “crunkczar powerdanse”, is basically a less gay, slightly more thugged-out version of jumpstyle—the gabber dance that is currently taking over Eastern Europe faster than the Nazis in 1939. All the tranqs numb the body into an almost boneless state that allows the rubberised limbs to be flailed about so vigorously that the dancer looks like they are having an epileptic fit. The music generally follows the formula of really pounding techno with trance riffs and screwed and chopped hip-hop vocals. According to the scene’s founder and leading producer Ryszard “Crunk King” Kuklinski (named after his famous Polish colonel and Cold War spy grandfather) crunkczar was initially inspired by the trance-hop coming out of the US on labels like Alabama’s Slow Motion Soundz and Paper Route Records. Ryszard messed around with and remixed audio he ripped off MySpace until he eventually struck lucky with a brutal techno remix of Wes Fif and B.O.B.’s “Haterz” early last year. To this day, it is the scene’s biggest and most infamous song—it reportedly caused a riot that resulted in the death or four people in one Polish club it was played in. It has since been banned in most venues. Nowadays there are dozens of young Polish producers trying their hand at the crunkczar sound. The most sampled hip-hop act seems to be Akon, whose squeaky voice they love to slow down to a deathly, almost demonic drawl. Another rapper who is proving very popular right now is Pittsburgh’s Wiz Khalifa. His major label single “Say Yeah” (which samples Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone”) has been a huge hit in the crunkczar scene. The sound has yet to travel far beyond Eastern Europe but there are a small selection of DJs who have started playing it. Ghislain Poirier has put together a whole mixtape of the stuff, which he released a month or so back as a free download and there are also rumours of Diplo currently sorting out a special for his Mad Decent podcast series. Look out for it. In other news, it seems every half decent, catchy bassline tune has now been snapped up by a major. DJ Q’s “You Wot”, Agent X’s “Perfect Girl” and Dexplicit and Gemma Fox’s “Might Be” are all getting major re-releases, presumably each with about six pointless electro house remixes and a video that looks like it was made for a soft-porn Channel U. The majors are so desperate for a bassline hit right now that if someone was to overlay a really high-pitched, tuneful fart over a snaking bassline, Atlantic would probably offer a five-figure advance for it. A lot of producers from other scenes want a piece of the action too. It seems like there isn’t a grime producer out there who hasn’t secretly had a go at making a bassline tune. Also, dubstep producer Kromestar has been using his old grime moniker, Iron Soul, to make some pretty epic, emo bassline tracks with dubstep sounds. I’ve come up with my own idea for another offshoot: spaceline. It’s a cross between space rock and bassline. It could be to bassline what grindie was to grime, i.e. the near death of it. Grime is still limping along like a wounded animal with Attention Deficit Disorder. The best tune of the last few months—in fact, the only good tune of the last few months—is “From Day” by teenage MC Double S. He’s taken a really catchy beat by Misty Dubs, whacked a decent auto-tuned chorus on it and taken a bit of time to write some good verses. Maybe Kano should get him on board before he makes another album. Get the track in question on Double’s new mixtape, Money’s the Motive. PRANCEHALL