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Diplomats under construction

Hiphop fans all over have, for two weeks now, been celebrating the reunion of the Diplomats AKA Dipset. Comprised of (from left to right) rappers Freekey Zekey, Cam’ron, Jim Jones and Juelz Santana, Dipset ran New York rap in the early ’00s, the age of Dirty South domination. Although individual Big Apple hiphop artists like Jay-Z have (continued to) enjoy huge succes during the decade, no other crew embodied the extravagant lifestyle on a streetlevel like Dipset set did. Needless to say, none have replaced it since Cam’ron and Jim Jones’ fallout, around 2007.

Although Freekey Zekey seems to give himself a shoutout on the intro, he doesn’t get a verse on “Salute”, #nowplaying on 22track’s hiphop playlist. It’s possible that he gets in some ad-libs further down, who knows, such is the brawly mayhem of Abe “Araabmuzik” Orellana’s production. Lyrically, Jones, Cam and Santana concern themselves with such Diplomats mainstays as guns, cars, bitches and money—and that’s just the first three lines.

Update: Araab is sampling a Dutch gabber track here! Compare the intro to “Salute” with “The Desolate One” (2001) by DJ Nosferatu.

Serving as the group’s unofficial PR, news of the Diplomats’ signing of the peace treaty was broken last spring by New York radio personality Miss Info. “The way I handled our business issues was with emotion, and it got totally fucked up,” Jones explained. “That’s what selfishness does.”

For now, there is only “Salute”, with a video on the way. Dipset is working on another Harlem renaissance. To tide you over, here’s an anthem from 2003.


Maximum Balloon: don’t take my word for it

One of the albums I’m looking forward to most this summer is the untitled debut from Maximum Balloon, the forthcoming ‘solo’ album from TV On The Radio guitarist and producer Dave Sitek (pictured) (release: 23 August). This excitement is based on: a) first single “Tiger”, #nowplaying on 22tracks’ rock playlist, b) the awesomeness of TV On The Radio in general and their last album Dear Science in particular, c) this interview with Brooklyn Vegan, in which Sitek reveals an album guestlist featuring Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone from TVOTR, Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon, Holly Miranda, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Theophilus London and “more”, possibly including David Byrne.

For good measure, here’s a slice of TV On The Radio:


At first I thought it was Adebimpe on “Tiger”, but is is in fact Aku Orracu-Tetteh from New York band Dragons Of Zynth who sings it. They sound somewat similar, or maybe that’s just me. There is some history here, though: Aku and his twin brother/guitarist Akwetey sang on the chorus of “Let the Devil in”, from TVOTR’s Return to Cookie Mountain (also a great record, from 2006), and Dragons Of Zynth’s debut album Coronation Thieves (2007) was produced by Sitek. Either way, “Tiger” manages to be funky, poppy and even clubby, and still rock.

Ridiculously sexy British fashion model Daisy Lowe (daughter of Bush singer Gavin Rossdale!) seems to agree with me and I’m sure you’d rather take it from her than me:


Taking a ride with The-Dream

If you’ve got even the tiniest interest in R&B music, you have been on the lookout for The-Dream‘s new album Love King. It’s coming out in a week’s time but, you know, it leaked last night and there’s no use in pretending it hasn’t. The Prince-like highlight “Yamaha” is #nowplaying on 22tracks’ R&B playlist.

Terius Nash AKA The-Dream first came to prominence as the co-writer and producer on Rihanna’s 2007 worldwide smash “Umbrella“. He and musical partner Christopher “Tricky” Stewart have become a successful duo behind the scenes. Another tune of theirs you may know is Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)“. Parallel to his studio work for other people, the curiously hyphenated The-Dream has been steadily making a name for himself as a solo artist. His first two albums sold reasonably well in the US, gained glowing reviews, but didn’t spawn that breakthrough hit single. “Rockin’ That Sh**” (2008), so fas, has come closest:


Is The-Dream too chubby to be the new Usher, too old to be the new Chris Brown, too sensible to be the new R. Kelly? It’s hard to establish yourself as an R&B star based solely on your music but The-Dream seems to be carving out a niche for himself pretty well. It will be interesting to see if his critical acclaim and subcultural capital will push him through on Love King.

“Yamaha” is one of my favourite songs on the album. The Prince influence is obvious from the first beat. Compare, for instance, with the purple one’s “Little Red Corvette” (1982), and notice the same comparing-a-woman-to-a-vehicle analogy at work.


I guess The-Dream was eyeing a Japanse model.

This Monday: 22videos premiere on Xite TV

You could say that we’re doing way too much in a too short period of time: building and promoting our website filled with undiscovered new tracks, organising parties (remember Queen’s day?), our monthly get-togethers (the next one: this Tuesday, June 22nd!), the launch of our iPhone app and now: 22videos! But why not? We are, simply, unstoppable and full of energy.

This Monday, for UPC and Caiway digital cable TV subscribers, we will premiere our new TV format 22videos. Every Monday from 8 to 11 PM you get to see 22 of the best new music videos out there. Not in a tiny web player, but on your expensive, large television screen. Be sure to tune in to Xite on UPC channel 618 or Caiway channel 57! If you’re not able to, don’t worry, you can catch the livestream here (Dutch residents only). Watch the launch of Xite’s new summer schedule, featuring us (around 2:00) in this video (in Dutch):


Let everybody on Twitter know you’re watching by using the hashtag #22videos! The playlist for tomorrow’s first showing of 22videos includes brilliant clips from Benga, Hot Hot Heat, Red Cafe & Pete Rock, Baloji, Squarepusher and The Temper Trap.

Our iPhone app…

We were looking forward to the launch of our iPhone app on the 22nd, and everything was ready to go. Until we were confronted with a few security-issues of our website. We are working really hard to solve those issues, but now things are changing in the back-end of a website, the iPhone app has to change too. Although the app is ready and waiting for you, we’re going to have to keep it on hold until all technical difficulties are taken care of. Once we have done that, we look forward to providing you with 22 brand new tracks in your favorite genres – wherever you are. To soothe the pain we will use this extra time to implement some extra functions, as a thankyou for your patience!

Block rockin’ rock

Strange things are happening on the rock playlist this week. It’s still the rock playlist, make no mistake, but, yes, those really are The Chemical Brothers (pictures) and Trentemøller #nowplaying over there. Neither are considered rock artists. In fact, both are big draws on the dance scene and have been for quite a few years. It’s actually been eighteen years since The Chemical Brothers debuted with “Song to the Siren”:


They were called The Dust Brothers then. Over the years, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons (for it is they) have worked with rock artists from Noel Gallagher to Bobby Gillespie and from The Flaming Lips to the Klaxons. Obviously, they know their rock music. It’s not that big a surprise they’ve “gone rock” for half the songs on their new album Further. Rock, I have to say, in the way that a highly skilled dance production duo would approach it: hypnotic, building, hardly any vocals. “K+D+B” is such a track. Think Neu! in Ibiza, on drugs.


Anders Trentemøller first appeared on my radar in 2004, as one of the finest techno producers around. Singles like “Physical Fraction”, “Polar Shift” and the Nam Nam EP (above) are excellent examples of minimal dance music done really, really well. With his (last) name truly established, the Danish producer took to the live stage with a full band, attracting even more fans. Personally, I wasn’t much into his less dancy sound. It felt like Trentemøller was trying a little too hard to make “proper” music. “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!”, from his new album Into the Great Wide Yonder, still isn’t techno by any stretch of the imagination, but it is simple, energetic and fun. It’s surf music for the iPad generation. It’s rock ‘n’ roll!

Both Breakbot and Aeroplane are yours

A nice little record on 22tracks’ disco playlist this past spring was “Baby I’m Yours” by Breakbot (pictured, four times!) featuring Irfane. Two Parisians: one producer, one singer. The song had soul, pop, sizzle and bounce and should have been a Top Ten song the world over. Jamiroquai had nothing on these guys. Listen, baby:


That’s a brand new video (hand-painted by Irina Dakeva), so this record is not finished. It’s just that here at 22tracks, we are often a bit quick on the take. Irfane Khan-Acito is the singer in Outlines, who put out an album in 2007 and who have not been heard of lately. He is best know for his “Just a Little Lovin” record from 2003, which took two years to get a proper release. By which time it really was finished.


Breakbot, so far, has been establishing his (terrible!) name mainly as a remixer for the likes of Digitalism, Evil Nine, Yuksek, Röyksopp, Air and Kavinsky. He is signed to the infamous Ed Banger Records, who don’t seem to be doing too bad in trying to find a new identity in the post-electro era. Both Kavinsky’s “Night Call” and Breakbot’s “Baby I’m Yours” already are hit records in my personal parallel universe, anyway.

To force a crossover, you could do worse than hire disco maestros Aeroplane. Since finishing their debut album We Can’t Fly a few months ago (it’s out in September), time for remixes has become availabe again to the Belgian duo. They rework “Baby I’m Yours” into a glorious Italo disco smash without sacrificing Irfane’s fine vocal. The remix, as well as their own “We Can’t Fly” is #nowplaying on the disco playlist.

Uffie: still a hot chick

Has Uffie‘s moment passed? I hope not, but it seems to me that the Parisienne didn’t strike when the iron was hot back in—ooh—at least 2007, when her début album was first supposed to come out. As it is, she’s had a baby (which is nice) and Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans has finally arrived, about two-and-a-half years late. The single “A.D.D. S.U.V.”, featuring Pharrell, is #nowplaying on 22tracks pop playlist and this weekend Uffie performs in Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Anna-Catherine “Uffie” Hartley is still only 22 years-old—younger than American singer Ke$ha, who stole Uffie’s style hook, line and sinker for worldwide smash “Tik Tok“. That means she was only 18 when she signed with Ed Banger Records and released her first single, “Hot Chick”. That song, and follow-up “Pop the Glock” (both 2006) established Uffie (who holds both an American and a British passport) as Europe’s, erm, hottest electro chick. As Ed Banger’s first lady, she also guested on albums by Justice and Mr. Oizo.

Uffie and producer Feadz in the Swedish TV show Musikbyrån, in 2007:


Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans was produced by Oizo, Feadz, SebastiAn and Madonna collaborator Mirwais. It has a handful of great tracks on it, which, depending on how you look at it, is either too little too late or just about enough to kickstart part two of a pop career. I, for one, am looking forward to see Uffie play Rauw at Amsterdam’s Melkweg this Friday. And if you can’t make it that night: the party moves to Utrecht’s Tivoli the next day. Read Rauw resident Joost van Bellen‘s hilarious iChat interview with Uffie here.


Fresh Beck

For someone who hasn’t released a new album in two years, Beck is pretty prolific. He can currently be found on four different songs #nowplaying on 22tracks, and that’s not even everything he’s got going on right now. It’s kind of been like that since his debut in 1993 and the amazing thing is that so much of his immense output is so great. Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a fan.

There’s two new Beck songs on the rock playlist. “Bad Blood” is taken from the second soundtrack of the US television series True Blood, which I haven’t seen. Judging by the album sleeve it has something to do with vampires. Or it could be werewolves (maybe both), as Beck is howling like one in “Bad Blood”, a scuzzy blues-rocker.


It is followed directly in the playlist by “Fresh Hex”, a song on Tobacco‘s new album Maniac Meat. It’s one of two songs by the Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman featuring Beck, and this one has him freestyling with words starting with a K sound. If you can make sense of lines like “Cowboy kaleidoscope / Like a concrete cactus cracking in a colosseum” you’re smarter (or crazier) than me.

Another soundtrack contribution is “Let’s Get Lost”, over on the pop playlist. It’s a duet with UK singer Natasha Khan AKA Bat For Lashes. Like “Bad Blood”, this song was written with especially for the visual story, in this case the movie The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Again, I haven’t seen it (nor the previous two Twilight Saga films) and again, it’s all about vampires. And romance. There’s no video (yet) for this song but should it get made, I expect it to feature his ‘n’ hers fangs.


The third Beck song on 22tracks isn’t really one, it’s Jamie Lidell‘s “I Wanna Be Your Telephone” (funk/jazz), which has Beck getting his groove on and playing guitar on it. I blogged about Jamie Lidell a few weeks ago, in case you missed that.

What else is there? There’s a beautiful new video for the Beck-written and produced Charlotte Gainsbourg single “Time of the Assassins”. And then there’s Beck’s Record Club, which sees him covering entire albums with a rotating line-up of musician-friends. It’s currently up to album number four, Kick by InXs (1987). You’ll remember “Never Tear Us Apart”, which is here sung by St. Vincent:


Theme music by Sotu the Traveller

HourGlass. A new HBO drama starring a ridiculously handsome American actor playing a quirky character doing unlikely things in a magical environment. We’ve got the theme tune by Sotu the Traveller #nowplaying on 22tracks’ relax playlist right now.

Except there’s no such thing as HourGlass on TV, anywhere. Somebody better make it happen, though. I’d watch it, and Sotu really has the theme tune ready. “HourGlass” is one of eight tracks on his new (download-only) album Left, which the Dutch producer put on release this week for the ridiculous price of € 3.50. You can pay more if you want to!

22tracks is still free, and on the beats playlist you can find another one of Sotu’s new instrumental jams. “GoldFish” has a bit more bass in it, but if it inspires you to write a serious drama about, let’s see, a mysterious loner who roams the streets at night to help out strangers in need, I’m sure Sotu would be fine with that.

Left is the second album from Haarlem artist Barış Akardere AKA Sotu the Traveller, and his first self-released. As he explained (in Dutch) to 3VOOR12, the hip-hop and soul producer was inspired by Flying Lotus en Nosaj Thing to make more electronic sounding music. “There is so much intersting music around nowadays, that I’ve put the Dilla beats and Rhodes sounds aside for the moment.”

Judith Veenendaal‘s “HourGlass” video, opening credits pending:


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