FIRST WE TAKE MIAMI, THEN WE TAKE THE WORLD
The 1999 Winter Music Conference in Miami last week seemed to be about showcasing major label sorta-dance-but-still-rock acts such as the Lo-Fidelity All-Stars and the Freestylers, and already-established DJs making an even splashier showing — or, in Fatboy Slim’s case, just sloppier. But one highlight was Detroiter Carl Craig’s Planet E label’s party at the tony South Beach restaurant Tantra last Tuesday night. Showcasing Detroit’s high-profile post-techno talent, the Planet E party attracted BPM culture luminaries such as the undreadlocked Roni Size and the still-dreadlocked Josh Wink, who rubbed elbows with Detroit label Direct Beat’s heads, the Burden Brothers, and even a member of the usually stoic Underground Resistance, DJ Rolando. While funky nerd Matt "Recloose" Chicoine and beatdown house pioneer Mike Clark kept the proceedings jazzy and soulful with their respective sets, the real highlight was Craig’s own live PA of his Paperclip People project. Craig tweaked a fluid medley of his Daft Punk-before-there-was-a-Daft Punk filtered disco and subliminal house, stringing together "Green Smoke" and "4 My Peepz" before launching into the conveyor-belt-disco of "Throw," which threw Tantra into a hands-in-the-air frenzy. Craig got on the mic to remind the crowd that Detroit was in the house, before passing the mic to Adriel Thornton and Women on Wax’s DJ Minx, who did the same. First-wave Detroit promoter Stirling — who booked Derrick May’s first club gigs in the mid-’80s — was in attendance, as was former Detroiter and now-West Palm Beach-based electro producer Will Web, who was moved to comment, "I feel like I’m back home."
After Craig’s set, Kevin Saunderson took the decks and turned in a stellar set of hard house and percussion-heavy techno. Windsor’s Richie "Plastikman" Hawtin himself hosted an as-stellar shindig at the same restaurant the night before, where he spun industrial-era ’80s favorites such as Nitzer Ebb to a crowd that included MTV brass and Oliver Stone. But this night Homme de Plastique sat respectfully and dutifully watched all of Saunderson’s ebb-and-flow set as fellow producers threw down around him. Said Detroit promoter Jon Layne, "It feels like its everybody’s birthday."
Guest DJ Giles Peterson turned Tantra’s hookah-and-hammock sideroom into a Habitrail of funk with his soul-disco set, while guest DJ Dego McFarlane of UK jazzbo junglists 4 Hero spun Detroit rap crew Slum Village’s A&M debut in its entirety, capping off a night when Detroit wasn’t just in the house, it was the house. Look for a complete Detroit-goes-to-WMC feature next week in MT.
CARNIVAL OF FOOTAGE
You may not care for Insane Clown Posse’s lowest-common-denominator schlock-rap, but ya gotta give it up that the feisty high school-dropout duo of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope got Island Records to pony up three quarters of a mil so the clowns could do their own spoof of the straight-to-video rappers-making-bad-movies genre. The pair have just finished shooting the Violent J-penned Big Money Hustlas with Misfits-video director John Cavario in New York, where they’ve been holed up along with the rest of their Psychopathic Records crew for the past month. The movie, like ICP’s take on rap, flips the script on all the Master P-Snoop Dogg gangsta-fare with its tale of one good cop, Sugar Bear (a pimped out, but still in clown make-up Shaggy), trying to clean up a corrupt Gotham under the rule of Big Baby Sweets (a likewise clown make-upped Violent J) with the help of Rudy Ray Moore’s Dolemite and a 400-lb. stripper, battling bad guys such as Fred "Rerun" Berry right through to the movie’s Scooby Doo-meets-Jacob’s Ladder ending.
"If you’re not a juggalo (ICP fan), you’re not gonna get the humor," explains J (Joe Bruce). Meanwhile, with their next opus, The Jeckyll Brothers, still months away from release, ICP’s 1995 disc, Riddlebox, the product of a short stint on Jive Records, is about to go gold. Their line of action figure dolls, a comic book and a beanie-doll set of the whole Psychopathic roster — ICP, Detroit’s Twisted and New York’s Myzery — debuts over the coming months. And their new Psychopathic Films division now plans to release two movies a year in conjunction with Island Life’s film division. Three rings, indeed.
Now if they could just spend some time on their rap skills …