The 10 Best DnB/Rap Collaborations, according to D Double E and Danny Byrd
Inner city pressure. Inner city blues. It’s no cakewalk, town life, and it’s the subject of a thousand pop songs, from Goldie to Marvin Gaye to Flight Of The Conchords. They often follow a template – a slow, agitated pace, dense sounds and a painful, gorgeous melody. My guess is if the ancient Mesopotamians had records in Ur, they’d sound this pretty and this bummed out.
“No order … No space … The city has its place / No truth and no faith … Are gonna pay for our mistakes,” opens Inga Copeland’s track BMW, the latest from the Russian-born artist who found her voice in London. It’s cloaked in dub, discusses the end of a relationship, and sounds like looking at that Cabin Porn site – both wistful and so lonely you want to drown yourself in a pint of London Pride.
No order and no space are two common reactions to Hype Williams’ music, the crucially Dalston-founded, Berlin-based band she co-fronts with life-long Londoner Dean Blunt. But – extended metaphor alert! – there is always an order, even if the joy is its seeming lack of one, both for the music of Hype and the city grind. Space is a personal force, open only to the mind of the person walking. Inga/Hype’s work has a deep, deep sense of the city, and if it has a genius – and BMW suggests it most certainly does – it is its unique ability to make one note both euphoric and terrifying, one tone at once liberating and fatally constraining.
Is it any wonder we gravitate toward these absolute, exclusive sounds? Check a bad bank balance, and the buildings collapse in, down to your solar plexus. Get a great text and your heels spring on pavements of golden cloud, chest puffed. Bass drenches BMW mournfully, and this, as Kode9 has written, is both dreadful and enlivening, comforting and estranging. Dub makes us dance isolated, meditative almost, and yet twins us with the others in the room – just listen to the fervor of DMZ devotees, or indeed the urban hymns of ‘One Nation’.
On ‘One Nation’, Hype forged a new urban sublime and shared a romantic vision of a Tottenham housing estate. On ‘Black is Beautiful’, Dean and Inga pulled the confusion and clatter of inner city culture into an uneasy, wonderfully pure whole. On BMW, this, lucid, ambivalent and wise song, Inga makes the tension harmonious. “The city makes me feel so weak … but when I feel strong, in a city I belong”, she sings, and she means it.