From our #263 issue
PQ1: “There’s something about communities and the ‘Wu-Tang’ model of having people collaborate with each other and individuals that are super creative.”
PQ2: “There’s this non existent line between electronic and hip hop. “
PQ3: “I remember when Ice-T came on tour for Lollapalooza with Body Count performing his ‘Cop Killa’ record and everybody was like, ‘What’s going on with hip hop mixing with punk rock music?’
Palm Springs, California is critically acclaimed for its year round sunshine, monumental music festivals and decadent luxury. Tonight’s star-studded grand opening at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs features opulence at its best. Providing the soundtrack for the night are the Embassy DJ’s who consist of an eclectic group of creative driven individuals that play a mélange of musical selections. Actor and screenwriter Anders Holm of ‘The Workaholics’ fame, Peruvian native Ana Calderon who DJ’s for the biggest names in music, Zach Cowie who boasts an extensive music career and the infamous producer Chris Holmes who doubles as Paul McCartney’s DJ. Performing poolside tonight is electronic rock duo—Phantogram who implements an infusion of electronic loops, hip-hop beats and soul sounds and recently completed an untitled EP with Big Boi from the group Outkast. The fusion between music genres comes as no surprise as EDM has etched its name in music expounding from previous electronic disco music. EDM or Electronic Dance Music, is focused on dance based entertainment and includes many different genres of music– House music, Dub step, Drum and Bass, Mashups, Electro, and Trance to name a few. Disc Jockeys and producers synchronize beats that are used for mixes and played around the world. Hip Hop artists are continuing to express their love for the dance genre collaborating with some of EDM’s biggest stars. Skrillex, David Guetta, Disclosure, Diplo, Flosstradamus, Afrojack, Major Lazer, A-Trak, Tiësto and more have all remixed hits for some of hip-hop’s most notorious artists. Collaborations between diverse talents such as Borgore & Waka Flocka Flame, Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX, Diplo and Action Bronson have popped up drawing hip-hop heads over to the dance floor.
This evening, The Embassy DJ’s are prepping their sets for the mixed crowd of A-list celebrities and movers and shakers at the newly opened Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. Relaxing in the upscale Rock Star suite at the music inspired resort, Anders, Chris, Ana and Zach share there take on EDM and Hip Hop. Chris advocates the blending of the two genres. ”I love the stuff that’s happening now, a lot of the fusion is coming from the hip-hop artists themselves and pushing things in that direction. I think in the 60’s a lot of rock bands ripped off soul and blues and gospel artists and made white versions of the music.” He shares, “The soul is the most important thing with any music and I think that bringing that soul to electronic music has made electronic music infinitely better. It started off with the Afrika Bambaataa stuff, it’s a circular thing where it keeps inspiring itself…” Zach, who is an avid vinyl collector influenced by producer J.Dilla (and even sports a ‘Dilla’ tattoo) is impressed with Kanye West’s latest offering. “On a big scale, I’m obsessed with Yeezus, to me that’s punk rock.” He shares, “That record sounds exactly how the world feels to me. It’s anxious, it’s nervous, it’s on the edge and to address that rather then ignore it… I think is so bold. To do it on that level.” Anders chimes in, “He’s the biggest rapper in the world and decided to do an avant-garde record, that’s not traditional in any sense and makes everyone sit down and listen to it. So the first time you go through it, a lot of people are like there are no hits…but if you listen to it….” Unlike her peers, Ana disagrees with the Hip Hop/EDM collision, “I hate to be a downer, but I don’t think I’m super vibing off the huge EDM/Hip Hop mix scenario.” Zach cuts in, “Seems like a money grab. I think some of it is real and authentic some of it…” Ana continues, “Its fun to listen to its just not the direction I go.” Zach believes it’s all about getting the point across. “I think hip hop is about a message and I think to make sure the message gets heard it has to be put in a package that makes sense and the way the world feels and sounds so it makes sense to me that you integrate elements that you hear everywhere as a way to deliver your message. That’s the beautiful thing about hip hop, you can pull from anywhere.”
Although music genres are intertwining, it wasn’t always welcomed in Hip Hop. Chris witnessed this first hand, “I remember when Ice-T came on tour for Lollapalooza with Body Count performing his ‘Cop Killa’ record and everybody was like, ‘What’s going on with hip hop mixing with punk rock music?’ and then Public Enemy and Anthrax and they were like, ‘What’s going on with hip hop getting together with heavy metal?’ It just is. Its just music. It’s not race based, it’s universal. You meet people from Sweden who might be the best hip hop producer.” Ana states, “I think that’s the great story about music in general. Every major movement has changed, Seattle there was a scene that changed in the 90’s and created this new sound.”
Chris concludes, “There’s something about communities and the ‘Wu-Tang’ model of having people collaborate with each other and individuals that are super creative and that’s kind of in a way the basis of what we’re doing. Everybody has their own thing that they do but they get together and it empowers everyone and I think that’s a powerful message in hip hop.”
The four DJ’s retreat to the visually stunning DJ booth, known as the ‘Cube’ consisting of 500 recycled loudspeakers soldered together as an active public sound sculpture. Collectively they play a non-traditional mix of music that seduces the crowd into dancing all night. Back onstage, Phantogram is sharing their multifarious sounds to an enthused crowd at the premier Mecca for music lovers. As celebrities fill the private cabanas and feast on delectable dining, it’s quite obvious that EDM and hip-hop in any form is here to stay.
Famed producer/DJ Just Blaze who produced ‘Higher’ with Baauer and JAY-Z, one of the biggest trap records of 2013, says dance music and Hip Hop is nothing new. “There’s this non existent line between electronic and hip hop. “ Just reveals, “We make hip hop music on laptops…Computers run on electricity which means that they are electronic instruments.” He continues, “Enter Da Wu-Tang was made on an ASR-10 which is an electronic instrument. You can dance to hip-hop so the phrase EDM (electronic dance music) To me…I don’t really rock with it because I make music that you can dance to no matter what the tempo is. And I make it electronically. Stop putting music in boxes and genres. Enjoy the music.”