The over-analysis of Bassline / Funky / Niche is truly spectacular. What started 10 years ago as some theoretical musings by Simon Reynolds has developed into a full blown pseudo-academic discipline all of its own.
It seems that every single minor variation/innovation in The ‘Ardkore ContinuumTM has to be scrutinised under a microscope by bloggers, commentators and journalists. The rush to plant a flag in the ground goes way beyond the hipster “I saw it first!” of yesteryear. Now every two bit fucker has to have a theory about What It All Means. In the melee of shouty grandstanding, any discussion of the actual music, creators or scene tends to get sidelined.
The ContinuumTM is now prodded about and observed in the same way as the stock exchange*. Commentators’ cultural capital is at stake here, and its value can go up or down depending on the accuracy of their predictions about the activity in emerging rave markets. The ‘lust for result’ is palpable.
The ‘nuum brokers are agitated, bullying their clients into jettisoning their shares in Grime, in the mistaken belief that their portfolio will go down the tubes otherwise.
Styleslut (which, gobsmackingly, disses Jammer for having his dreads “too long”. Thus taking on the role of the much-hated “Barber” in so many reggae tunes. See Prancehall’s retort and subsequent flame war.)
K-Punk: “Both dubstep and grime have been shaped by their suspicion of the song, female voice and the kind of exuberance that was once the unique defining feature of the panoply of musics that developed out of British rave music”
I won’t, can’t, defend Dubstep, but this completely ignores Grime’s vast catalogue of tunes with 2step female vocals and its more ‘pop’ moments. Skepta’s “Sweet Mother” is about as pop as it gets, surely? Ditto Ruff Sqwad versioning both Edwin Starr’s “War” and Cutting Crew’s “Died in Your Arms” on the same mixtape. As for exuberance, you only have to look at Stageshow. This cap only fits if you ignore the evidence, which is easy to do if you stopped listening to Grime two years ago because you were looking for the next big thing.
Watching from the sidelines, it’s heartening to see that there are some people able to pipe up and question the entire basis of the goldrush. (“isn’t the hardcore continuum just a way for older guys to relate to these off-the-wall kids making totally new original stuff that, aesthetically at least, bears little resemblance to the genres that the ‘Nuum designates as their supposed predecessors?”)
Similarly, others take a slightly different tack by (gasp!) actually engaging with people involved with the scene.
*Actually, another good parallel would be the way that some on the ultra-left drill down deep into every single economic crisis or workplace dispute – watching for the portents which will herald the inevitable upsurge in the class struggle, leading us all towards fulfilling our historic mission of World Revolution.
All of this, really, reduces human activity to mere data. Jumped up music fans aspiring to be weather forecasters. Standing in the rave, clipboard in hand. “Well this is all very well in practise, but how does it work in theory?”
Other analyses are needed more urgently. Why is everything so miserable? Why is everyone so hopeless?