A film about Northwest hip-hop from 2014
Swamp Jams II
In the 2020s, Hollywood is obsessed with the “Multiverse,” a place where anything is possible and infinite shards collide to create each reality. The multiverse-based film Everything Everywhere All At Once dominated the Oscars in 2023. Don’t even get me started about the glut of Marvel and DC superhero multiverse films. The Pacific Northwest is ahead of the curve on this topic, as we have had a true multiverse DJ since at least 1996. His name is DJ blesOne, and he is a producer/B-Boy/DJ who found audiences with his first group Mash Hall from 2004 until they stopped recording in 2010. Then he joined a second group, Don’t Talk To The Cops, in 2011.
Don’t Talk To The Cops’ music was always bananas, sound effects and beats attacked from all angles. Sudden changes were the hallmark of a DTTTC track, and any moment could bring a drum break or a swerve from music into dialogue. The first two DTTTC albums, Regular Show and Let’s Quit were high-energy, greased lightning for the dance community. Their third CD was the more abstract Champions Of Breakfast. The group appeared to be at a crossroads, and put out a three-song ep called Swamp Jams, which included the scorching track, “Ronald Reagan Racist Reagan.” Then a noteworthy short album named Swamp Jams II dropped a bomb on everybody.
Swamp Jams II is a brief experience, only 25 minutes long. The tempo swings wildly between slower and faster fare. One of the first identifiable tracks on the faster end, “Shaq Attaq,” is hilarious, especially because the only lyric is “Shaq attack,” over and over. The slower “Kicked Out Of Capitol Hill” is El Mizell’s angry rebuttal to the forces of gentrification which changed Capitol Hill from an affordable-if-grungy underground culture factory, to an expensive, clean, homogenous Bellevue-lite.
“Ordering A Pizza” is like “Shaq Attaq,” a merciless rhythm attack with a repeated refrain. If you ever meet blesOne, ask him about the Midwest club he once DJed where patrons could order a pizza and the servers would bring it right to the dance floor. It’s a good story. “Bumble” slices a line from emecks’ verse in “I’m @ The Ocean Kid,” and blasts it at you again and again. These repetitive, thumping tracks remind me of Daft Punk’s early grinders, because they are unforgiving, relentless, and downright insulting to the listener. They sound like record-skipping musical pranks, until something clicks in your mind and the genius becomes evident.
After all the speedy madness so far, the slow creep of “Tommy Nautica Polo” near the end of the album rekindles the ether-soaked-rag slow burn from Champions Of Breakfast. As rides through the multiverse go, Swamp Jams II is one of the coolest. Your musical device is not skipping, this is the hyperactive hive mind of Don’t Talk To The Cops. Written by Novocaine132