Hard News by Russell Brown

17

Friday Music! Mic drops and dance pioneers

I enjoyed Aaradhna's mic drop at the Music Awards last night: it added energy to an event that was already getting much of its energy from the Māori and Pasifika creativity on show. But I think there's something that needs clarifying about it.

Aaaradhna gave away her award, she told Duncan Greive afterwards, because

... it’s unfair to be put against a genre that’s got nothing to do with your genre. I’m not angry, I just feel like it’s unfair to be in a category that’s not related to what I do. To me, it just seems like it’s the brown people category, or the coloured people or whatever. That’s the category for the ‘urban folks’. But, to me, I feel like that’s for hiphop. There’s more hiphop artists that were nominated in that category and it’s always been that way and I feel like it belongs to that hiphop crowd.

This might give the impression that Aaradhna was in the Urban/Hip-Hop category against her will, that someone else had decided she should go there. What actually happened was that she was entered in the category by her manager, Andy Murnane, presumably with her consent. She could have avoided winning the award by not entering the category.

There is a separate discussion to be had about whether there ought to be seperate Hip Hop and Soul/R&B categories – and it's one that was underway before last night. RMNZ CEO Damian Vaughn told me today that Andy had raised the idea when he came to the RMNZ office to make and pay for the entries (each category attracts an entry fee) and he agreed to work on the idea for next year.

RMNZ (and before that Rianz) has added and tweaked award categories fairly frequently. There was no hip hop award at all until 2002, when Che Fu's The Navigator won Best R&B/Hip Hop Album (there was one other nomination: Dark Tower's Canterbury Drafts). The category was renamed Best Urban Album the following year, when Nesian Mystik won. The next year, 2004, when Scribe won everything,  it became Best Urban/Hip Hop album. The following year, P Money's Magic City beat the Feelstyle and Savage albums in the same category. Aaradhna won it in 2013 and Janine and the Mixtape won it last year. So it is an award that's been entered and won by both artists who didn't rap and who weren't brown. 

There was a change last year, when the Gospel/Christian category became the more open-minded Best Worship album. And this year, Best Electronica album dropped an "a" and became Best Electronic album, after Loop's Mikee Tucker pointed out that "electronica" was a specific genre and the category was wider than that.

I think it's fair enough for Aaradhna to ask "What does ‘urban’ mean?" because it's arguably not a music genre, it's a radio format. Mai FM, for example, is categorised as "Urban contemporary", taking its lead from the US, where the format was pioneered.

But radio formats kind of suck, so perhaps it is a good idea to work on two separate formats. The risk would be that there wouldn't be enough releases (RMNZ requires a minimum four entries for any category to go forward each year). The pool for the only-in-New-Zealand Aotearoa Roots category is a bit shallow most years, but it survives. So yeah, let's give it a go. It just seems useful to understand what actually happened here.

One more thing: the performances were great at last night's awards: Tami Nielson and Aaradhna both absolutely tore it up, Fat Freddy's Drop were great and Hall of famer Bic Runga was all class.

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Hey, guess what? Me and Sandy Mill are DJing the late shift at Golden Dawn tonight! We're on from 11pm to 2am – Sandy takes the first hour, I take the second and we'll finish up going one-for-one for the last.

There are a couple of notable names on the decks earlier too: Automatic plays 5-8pm and Simon Sweetman 8-11pm.

And tomorrow night, Alan (House of Bamboo) Perrott, Tina Turntables and John Baker are teaming up to play tunes at Whammy bar. Entry is free and Alan tells me "the idea is to take the Good Times Sound System model of no fixed genre and play stuff to elevate the mood and hopefully leap around to."

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The toll on musical legends has been one facet of the strange year that is 2016. This month so far, we've seen the passing of Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell – but also of a man whose name might not be quite so familiar: David Mancuso.

Mancuso was the founder of The Loft, the New York venue (it was also his home) for invite-only parties that set the template not only for disco but for  what we think of as dance music culture to this day. Certainly, the culture has lost its way at various times – there's not much connection between The Loft and overmuscled yobs slamming each other to EDM in stadiums – but the eclectism and openness represented by The Loft resonate today.

And the songs still sound great. Resident Advisor has Loft-inspured playlists for both Spotify and Apple Music and there's a monster 11-tune playlist right here on Spotify:

And on Soundcloud, both discs of Mancuso's long-deleted The Loft Volume 2:

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Noisey is premiering the video for Leisure's 'Got It Bad' – and also 'Antlers', the first taste of The Bats' new album, The Deep Set, which is a cracking tune.

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Tunes!

You never knew you wanted an entire album of Beastie Boys/Daft Punk mashups, but hey – maybe you do! Daft Science lays the Beasties’ a capella tracks over music beds made up entirely of Daft Punk samples. Dangerous Minds has the full story, it's a free download – and here's a taste:

An amazing Hober Mallow remix of the Steve Miller Band's 'Serenade' (Hypeddit free download):

Paddy Buckley put me on to the amazing  SanFranDisko on HearThis. Sheer disco:

Spruced-up Deodato ...

And this storming job on a new wave classic. Shame about the spelling, but the tune is awesome ...

There's heaps more great stuff on that account, all free to download. Everybody say "Thanks Paddy!"

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The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant

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