2008-09-22

The Sidestepper Parallel Problem

It's funny about parallel evolution and how fashion and marketing works.

As you may know, I've spent quite a bit of my net time hanging around with a group of hipsters in the so-called nu-whirl community - DJs and fans, mostly from the US, who make bass-driven music from the third world fashionable and release it through Mad Decent or Dutty Artz or something. What's fun about these guys is how they often can co-exist in a city with a large immigrant community and play exactly the same music as them without meeting up very closely- in effect two parallel structures, clubs and communities for the same music.

What's even more fun, though, is that they can be just as parallel with other groups of hipsters. Take this example:

Maga Bo is an American DJ who's spent seven years living in Brazil, where he collaborates with both local and foreign artists and mixes beats and local pop genres from around the world. You can detect little bits of hip-hop, Jamaican music and drum&bass in most of his work.

Sidestepper is a british DJ who's spent fourteen years living in Colombia, where he collaborates with both local and foreign artists and mixes beats and local pop genres from around the world. You can detect little bits of hip-hop, Jamaican music and drum&bass in most of his work.

And yet Maga Bo is a fixture, more or less permanent, of these "global ghettotech" blogs while Sidestepper never makes a look in. Is he obscure? Haven't people heard of him? On the contrary he's well-publicised and appears regularly in the media. Is the sound very different? Judge for yourself - I'd say Maga Bo is a bit sharper but certainly Sidestepper has quite similar qualities. Do they work differently? Actually I'd say Sidestepper probably collaborates even more deeply than Maga Bo does.

No, the real reason is, of course, that they are part of different groups of hipsters. Sidestepper has a history of working with Peter Gabriel and has appeared on several Putumayo compilations. He appears at regular rock festivals with a group of live musicians. Obviously, this is all a big no-no on the scene.

Funnily enough, when it comes to marketing, Sidestepper was pitched with a more "urban" (ie. global ghettotechy) image in the beginning. Compare the original album cover for his first CD with the one that it was re-released with once Putamayo et al accepted him:


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is inaccurate in so many ways i don't know where to begin..

matt said...

And your point being?

Birdseed said...

I thought you didn't read my blog, Matt. :)

I think the essential underlying point (beyond the little teasing about fa-fa-fa-fa fashion) is that there's a greater similarity between Global Ghettotech and eighties world music that either side would care to admit. The rhetoric is a touch different, and the imagery, and other superficial subcultural trappings, but as far as the actual social position and (surprisingly often) the results, it's largely same old, same old.

And here I was thinking you guys tried to collect cool local bass-driven working class genres. Silly me.