Nine weeks ago, the Sasquatch Music Festival lineup was released to much fanfare. Like all festivals, some hated the lineup while others loved it. For the more levelheaded, it appears to be a very balanced lineup with a deep undercard. From here on out we will be underscoring the lesser-known Sasquatch artists by highlighting a different artist each week. Beyond delving into each artist’s bio, sound, etc., we will attempt to give some insight into what will make their performance at Sasquatch so amazing.
Manchester is England’s 6th largest city, but is referred to by many as its 2nd city culture-wise. The home of Factory Records, the Madchester period, and more recently, the fabled Ware House Project series. One thing the city is not known for is hip hop, or grime for that matter. Whereas grime, and to a certain extent American hip hop, has dominated urban airwaves in London and Bristol for a decade plus, it has not gained much of a foothold in the North of England. It comes as a surprise then that one of the hottest hip hop producers, not just in the UK, but on the face of this earth is Mancunian (by way of Nottingham).
If you read this blog, you’re probably fairly familiar with Darren Williams aka Star Slinger. After releasing the impeccable Volume 1 beat tape in the Summer of 2010, Williams went from complete unknown to The Guardian’s “best new act of the year by miles.” It’s not easy to place Slinger’s sound (he calls it Booty LSD) as it falls somewhere at the intersection between hip hop and UK bass, taking cues from Chicago footwork and UK garage. It would be easy to clump him in with the maximalists of LuckyMe, but Slinger is influenced more by sample mavens The Avalanches and DJ Shadow. Volume One is a journey through chipmunk soul although Williams slightly deviates from the 70’s R&B line that Kanye West and Just Blaze owned over the first half of this past decade. On “Extra Time,” Slinger samples 80’s English alt-rock band Prefab Sprout’s “Wild Horses.” On album standout “Gimme,” he takes a more traditional route, sampling The Staple Singers’ “Let’s Do It Again” to incredible effect.
Stream/Download: Star Slinger – Volume One
While there are hundreds of producers out there producing “Dilla and Premier influenced” tracks (as my inbox informs me), Williams has differentiated himself through an impressive ability to create complex drum patterns. Taking influence from both British and American electronic music, Williams puts the emphasis on the drum machine in the studio. This is most apparent on the spat of remixes he has uploaded to his Soundcloud over the past several years, most successfully on his remixes of Gold Panda’s “Marriage” and Mount Kimbie’s “Before I Move Off.” Slinger’s samples are the most obvious part of his music, but there is an underlying beauty in his attention to detail.
Stream/Download: Mount Kimbie “Before I Move Off (Star Slinger Refix)”
More recently, Slinger has entered the world of American hip hop, enlisting Juicy J and Project Pat and R&B singer Reggie B for “Chain Dumbin,” a banging party cut that wouldn’t be out of place on Hot97 or any other pop radio station. Last week, Slinger dropped “Bad Bitches” featuring everyone’s favorite based martian and fellow The Pack member Stunnaman, a chilled down track perfect for the impending heat of Summer. We can only hope for more MC accompanied tracks as his remixes for Drake and A$AP Rocky are impeccable as well.
Like most of the acts I have covered so far in this series, Star Slinger will be performing in the Banana Shack (dance tent), along with his either an MPD32, SP-404 or a set of decks. Be prepared for a healthy serving of contemporary Southern hip hop, maximalist bass music, as well as older hip hop cuts from the the Wu, Slum Village and more. Williams has a penchant for wild live shows and recently started up his own club night called Jet Jam, which featured British teens Bondax at the first event. Williams bares a slight resemblance to a Sasquatch so I wouldn’t be missing this one Memorial Day weekend.