dirty martini

old music for new people

around the way girls May 17, 2008

female rappers are still seen as a bit of a novelty sometimes – but they’ve been in the game almost as long as the men.

the principle change since the 80s has been that female rappers no longer are required to dress like rottweilers in order to be taken seriously. like the new jill swingers of the early 90s, who were forced to rock the then unlikely pairing of lumberjack shirts and doc martens with visible underwear and heavy matt makeup. this was way before all saints made boyswear cute.

if they have anything in common at all with the female rappers of the 90s and 00s, it would be with jean grae and missy rather than foxy brown and lil kim. this was resolutely not about sex – it was about competing with men on a level playing field, rather than resorting to stereotypes.

roxanne vs roxanne was thankfully, not as intense as east vs west coast but at the time it was every bit as sincere. i don’t think girls are as bothered about which coast they’re from…this is why we run things.

download here

b-beat girls – for the same man

carmen – throw down

finesse and synquis – soul sisters

jamaica girls – rock the beat

jj fad – supersonic

le tigre – we like the cars that go boom

neneh cherry – buffalo stance

the real roxanne – bang zoom

roxanne shante – roxanne’s revenge

salt-n-pepa – i like it like that

two sisters –  b-boys beware

wee papa girl rappers – wee rule

Advertisements
 

a roller skating jam named saturdays April 7, 2008

one of my first (of many) instore tantrums was over a pair of starlight express rollerboots.

skating, indeed many forms of exercise, were popular pastimes in the 70s and 80s in a way that they’re just not now. computers were basic, tv was limited to three channels, so you got off your arse and went outside. girls skated and french skipped, boys played football or hit things with sticks.

roller discos, therefore, were good places for boys to meet girls, once they got over that whole ‘girls are stupid’ phase. skating though, had potential for embarrassment. and boys didn’t look that cool skating.

so, most venues were built around the twin concepts of roller rinks for the girls and skateboard ramps for the boys. and a wall’s ice cream stand in the middle for hook-ups…with the retro yellow branding not the rubbish continental style brand they have now.

download here

bb biz r – sucker for your love

bobby demo – bugs-b-skate-rap

cameo – rollerskates

doug e fresh and slick rick – the show

indeep – last night a dj saved my life

kurtis blow – don’t stop the body rock

newcleus-  jam on it

rocksteady crew – hey you, the rocksteady crew

salt-n-pepa – push it

shannon – let the music play

soul sonic force – electric kingdom

white shadow – boogie freak

 

whatever bitch January 15, 2008

mean-girls.jpg

as long as the world keeps turning, girls will do each other down. fact.

top 5 mean girls

1. heather chandler (heathers) – so mean they made her drink bleach.

2. regina george (mean girls) – so mean she found herself under a bus.

3. benny (pretty in pink) – so mean people wished they would shrivel up and fall off

4. tom tom (13 going on 30) – so mean she aged really badly

5. taylor vaughan (she’s all that) – so mean she got dumped by a reality tv star

download here 

702 – where my girls at

finger waggling late 90s style. its a good job 702 had the attitude cos they sure as hell didn’t have the vocals. they inexplicably survived into the 00s.

blondie – rip her to shreds

the original bitch bash from deborah harry, who was old enough to know better even then.

blu cantrell – girl please

blu taunts beyonce about her former relationship with jay-z. i’m pretty sure she won’t be the last, especially if they have/do get married. mya has also reportedly bumped uglies with joe camel but he was apparently only one of many…

brandy and monica – boy is mine

teen bitch anthem. apparently these two were not particularly fond of each other in real life either.

destiny’s child – fancy

after letoya and latavia were ousted, and farrah proved a liability, the trio let rip on their third album and this one was clearly aimed at anyone who thought they were better than the queen bee and her army of skanks.

isyss – oh no she didn’t

isyss were a marginally successful group who can best be described as ‘sub destiny’s child’. edit: oh ok they were a bit better than that but fell foul of the early 00s music industry download panic.

lucy pearl – don’t mess with my man

well, with the recent controversy between dawn robinson and her husband this seems relatively tame. if en vogue can be compared to the original destiny’s child, dawn is beyonce, terry is kelly, maxine is latavia and cindy is soooo letoya.

michelle – you don’t know michelle

….i’m going to go with electro. i don’t really know how to describe this. like a cross between freestylers, deejay punk roc and 80s hiphop girls carmen.

mokenstef – he’s mine

i could never quite get my head round this one. you know someone has slept with your man but instead of dumping him you focus on her? sack him!

salt-n-pepa – i’ll take your man

…and they would. you didn’t mess with salt and pepa in the 80s. or spinderella for that matter.

teedra moses – you better tell her

apparently too cute to fight. again, why stick with a man with other women on the go?

toni braxton –  he wasn’t man enough

not content with having dumped the man, toni’s needling his new girlfriend. oh we’ve all done it…

 

80s girl bands – hair, hair and more hair September 29, 2007

bananarama.jpg

 there weren’t as many girl bands back in the 80s. boys shifted units and were infintely more marketable.

download here 

bananarama – i heard a rumour

infamous for their total lack of singing ability but this added to their girl next door appeal. as a trio they managed to hold a note though, even when the lineup alternated, destiny’s child style. no one remembers the dark haired one they brought in to replace siobhan when she left to form shakespear’s sister. well, her name was jacqui and she looked like a prison warden.

bangles – eternal flame

possibly the most hair of all the girl groups. prince wrote their first hit, ‘manic monday’ and it was all good from there, for a god few years. have joined the long list of acts who have had one of their songs butchered by rough as old boots scouse band atomic kitten.

expose – seasons change

expose were huge in the US, not so much in the UK. predated en vogue and once they arrived, we really didn’t need expose anymore.

klymaxx – i’d still say yes

one of few all-girl 80s soul groups, and all the better for it. doubtlessly inspired many a 90s r&b girl band.

mai tai – body and soul

dutch group who had an interesting euro twang to their vocals and sound. huge smils, braids and pvc catsuits were the order of the day. this track is enjoyably bouncy machine pop but most of their output was smoother.

mary jane girls – in my house

sassy girls who must hopefully be reaping some royalties from the endless sampling of their biggest hit ‘all night long’. this track, sounds like it belongs in ‘fast times at ridgemont high’.

mel and kim – flm

chirpy cockney sisters who inspired a nation of girls to raid their local branch of chelsea girl for bowler hats and cropped jackets. mel sadly died only a few years after they found success. whilst the track refers to ‘fun, love and money’ the title actualy stands for ‘fuckin’ lovely mate’.

pepsi and shirlie – goodbye stranger

started their careers singing backup for wham and came into their own after the split. owned the puffball skirt look in 1987.

pointer sisters – automatic

responsible for enduring party classics ‘i’m so excited’ and ‘jump’. actually formed in the 60s and didn’t achieve commerical success for 15 years by which time the girls were in their mid-late 30s.

salt-n-pepa – i like it like that

first ladies of hiphop and there was actually a third member, spinderella, who was gradually coaxed out from behind her decks. now the subjects of a reality show, these girls astound me as they do not appear to have aged in 20 years.

seduction – heartbeat

another girl band with big hair and small clothes.

vanity 6 – he’s so dull

prince’s band, whose one and only album is quite literally the sound of four teenage girls on a sleepover.

 

the true sound of miami May 21, 2007

what’s freestyle? even if you think you aren’t familiar, chances are that if you have more than a passing interest in hiphop r&b soul or even house and garage, then you will have heard several of its exponents.

originating from miami in the mid 80s, freestyle can best be described as a straight mashup of electro, hiphop, r&b, house…anything goes. hence the name. it became hiphop for girls. yes, female rappers such as roxanne (both of them) salt-n-pepa and jj fad were doing their thing, but this was much sweeter and more accessible.sometimes, it was so plaintive as to be almost offkey and out of tune but I think that adds to its charm, and is more honest than giving cassie, britney and mya recording contracts and manipulating their weedy warblings. freestyle sounded like it had been made on a casio keyboard, and it most probably had been. the studio version without the ‘wake me up before you go go’ demo button though. vocals that sounded like they had been recorded into a handheld tape deck gave the whole affair a more dangerous edge.

the look? quintessential late 80s styling with a latin edge. big backcombed curls, big earrings…and relaxed pastels for the heat. freestyle itself could perhaps be summarised with the above image – aspirational neon cocktail. totally 80s, totally miami.

when I visited florida a few years ago, I didn’t expect to hear any freestyle. i thought that one of the things that had made me want to visit miami for so long would be long gone, a distant memory of twenty and thirtysomethings now fully immersed in the house or r&b scenes. but it was everywhere!

 


crunk had just exploded but from the local radio stations, you’d never guess. we cruised happily up and down the a1a, and in and out of walgreens and taco bell, to the sounds of freestyle for two weeks. i highly recommend florida to anyone needing some sunny late 80s nostalgia…

ten sounds of party 93.1 south floridadownload here


lil suzy – take me
well, if i hadn’t known this track before i went to florida, i certainly did by the time i arrived home. played about four times a day and considering we didn’t spend that much time in the car listening to party 93.1, you can safely assume this was a dj favourite…

stevie b – spring love
uk peeps may only know stevie b for his dreary 1991 hit ‘because i love you’. it seems the only reason he got away with releasing that dirge was that he had already established some credibility on the freestyle circuit. and promptly flushed it down the toilet.

nice and wild – diamond girl
no pic exists for this group, who had several freestyle club hits – this is my favourite. perfect example of electro meets hiphop meets 80s jheri curl soul.

expose – let me be the one
i do remember expose being hyped as the next big thing in smash hits in the late 80s. well, they didn’t take off in the uk but appear to have done well natively and are fondly remembered. i think when en vogue arrived i was slightly confused then realised they were a completely different group.cover girls – show me
like expose, touted as the next big thing but the uk didn’t really get freestyle so they sank without trace until they shifted direction. i seem to remember they covered ‘wishing on a star’ so they must have had some success over here.

lisa lisa and cult jam – i wonder if i take you home
electro favourite that was hard to categorise at the time. lisa lisa and cult jam continued to have success, with ‘all cried out’ (later covered by allure and 112) and c&c music factory remixed ‘let the beat hit em’ (heard that on the radio last week – still sounds amazing). lisa went solo in 1994 with album ‘LL77’ to rapturous reviews but uh, it was all a bit alternative and grey for me…i much preferred the colourful nonsense of the 80s.

shannon – let the music play
perhaps the first freestyle hit, apart from freeez‘s ‘iou’, which i’m not sure counts as they were from london, not miami. plus, ‘iou’ was a wedding reception favourite even back in the day, which surely disqualifies them. anyway, this track along with madonna’s poppier ‘holiday, changed the face of dance music in 1984.

 

 

 

joyce sims – all and all
this song was doing nothing and going nowhere until kurtis mantronik picked it up and laid the vocals over his ‘bassline’ instrumental. suddenly it was everywhere and not everyone realises its a remix – a bootleg at that.

debbie deb – when i hear music
one of the biggest freestyle hits. i had to include a more recent photo of debbie as she looks awful in her 80s shots. circulation defying skintight bleached jeans, sausage in a condom style boob tube, blonde hairdo that looks like it would come off in one piece…ick…sometimes i’m glad i wasn’t really old enough to pick all of my own clothes in the 80s. 

 

seduction – two to make it right
much like expose and the cover girls, assembled to cash in on their success. probably wore the least clothes out of the three and had the least hits as well…

 

dick in a box April 23, 2007

you’ve all seen the saturday night live sketch where trousersnake parodies early 90s slow jams and, well, himself actually, if his hit rate is to be believed. maybe his moves are more sophisticated now, but I bet preteen justin listened and learned. janet jackson, scarlett johansson, emma bunton, cameron diaz, beyonce, britney, christina, alyssa milano, that dancer..countless others…they all fell for it.

in 1991, color me badd started something. three years after george michael‘s ‘i want your sex’ was banned, songs about sex hit the charts so fast that the regulators just gave up, it seems. la tour‘s ‘people are still having sex’, salt-n-pepa‘s ‘let’s talk about sex’ and the divinyls‘ ‘i touch myself’ were successful but they didn’t respectively alter the output of house, hiphop and rock in the way that ‘i wanna sex you up’ achieved.
until then new jack swing was mostly slickly produced, frenetic workouts requiring the running man dance, which was never going to work as foreplay really, was it? thus, bedroom music was, if not born, kicked into the 90s and made saucier than ever.color me badd never quite replicated the success of their first single, mostly because all of their other songs were shit. they started to overdo the foreplay and lost the sleaze, by appearing in magazines gushing about how they loved to stroke a woman’s hair, buy her roses and chocolates, before getting her into bed.

no woman on earth was gonna fall for that. but we do have them to thank for 90s slow jams and probably a lot of kids now aged about 15 or 16…

ten rude songs with which to woo your 90s lover – download here

 


color me badd – i wanna sex you up
obviously. I prefer the new jack city version not the way too obvious ‘let me take off all your clothes…’. cos that was the one we used to sing in classes run by ageing substitute teachers, leading them to denounce us as ‘devil children’. lol. no, i didn’t go to a convent.

r.kelly – your body’s calling
I was alarmed when my then five year old cousin named r.kelly as his favourite singer. turned out he’d only heard ‘i believe I can fly’ and ‘gotham city’. phew! i was so not gonna be buying him ’12 play’ for christmas.

kut klose – I like
I really like this song. and they do that popular mid 90s girl group ‘ohyeaheehyeahahahyeahyeah‘ bit in the chorus. oh you know what i mean… kut klose were keith sweat‘s girl group and they had some great slow jams on their one and only album.

changing faces keep it right there
nice remix by creepy devante of jodeci. changing faces improved over time from their awful debut ‘stroke you up’ to 2000’s great ‘that other woman’.

jodeci freek’n’you
later jodeci track bumped in every clapped out boy racer in london at some point in 1996. thanks to condition of said cars, it rarely had the desired effect on the ladies, sadly, and they looked a bit er, gay.

aaliyah age ain’t nothin‘ but a number
except it is when you’re 14, from a legal standpoint. try to ignore that fact and enjoy babygirl’s cooing vocals.1-900 – oh
forgotten new jack swing slowie with a nice color me badd style beat. so obscure i couldn’t find a picture of them.

adina howard – freak like me
the sugababes cover used an 80s electro classic and was coolly clever, but dropped the sleaziness of the original like a hot potato. which was half the point.

silk – freak me
another level‘s later cover version sounds impressively copycat given that they’re essex boys. but the original beats out dane bowers and co any day, for those that know.

swv – downtown
if you can’t work this song out you’re not old enough to be reading this. swv, along with mary j blige, inspired many of today’s r&b acts.