Famous Eno‘s career arc doesn’t match the usual boom-bust curve that defines so many young artist’s tenure in the electronic music space. Exploring the various tendrils of Afro-Caribbean derived UK dance music and US regional club music, Eno has been a staple on the Mixpak and Swing Ting rosters since the release of his All Good FM single in 2012, constantly expanding his purview without ever losing site of the dancefloor. The Eno sound draws on afro beat, dancehall, grime and UK funky and, depending on who he’s collaborating with, traverses those with almost unmatched dexterity. Frequent collaborators like Murlo, Swing Ting and the Fractal Fantasy crew often interject their own styles, but Eno’s forceful, rhythmic backbone is always there, collecting the pieces into a whole optimized for the dance.
Most recognizably, Eno’s work has been marked by the voices of a huge range of MCs. Released in October, Music For Clubs is his longest release in years and functions as a vibrant encapsulation of the many sounds he’s experimented in. Jamaica’s Bay-C, Ghana’s Bryte and Gafacci, London’s Killa P and Trigganom, and New Jersey’s UNIIQU3 contribute their distinctive approaches, all tied together by Eno’s restrained yet anthemic production. In lesser hands, the release would come off as a hodgepodge of disparate styles, but under Eno’s tutelage it comes together nicely, pinging from one idea to the next and giving plenty of time and space for each MC to shine. It’s a sound introduced on singles like “Gangsters” and Samrai’s 2014 remix of Eno and Rubi Dan’s “Terminator”, but it truly flourishes on Music For Clubs.
It was Eno’s bootleg and remix work that initially drew us to the producer half a decade ago though and takes on Paleman’s “Beelzedub” and Sia’s “Little Man”, not to mention the unbridled mania of his and Murlo’s remix of Akito’s “Metamessage”, are still classics in our book. They’re also a good indicator of his full throttle approach to DJing, clearly rested in soundsystem culture, but not giving over too much to tradition. His Astral Plane Mix functions as both a compendium of recent work and a roadmap for those uninitiated to his approach. It begins with Music For Clubs staple “Life” and ends with a brand new remix of King Louie and Mikey Dollaz’s Zora Jones and Drippin produced “WW4” and touches on bmore, ghetto house, gqom and more in the middle. It’s a big, party-oriented sound that will be familiar to listeners of his work on Fractal Fantasy Mixpak, and Swing Ting, exploding into new territory with every transition. Download a copy of Astral Plane Mix 175 here and hit the jump for a full track list.
Every so often, a new sound emerges that galvanizes dancers and DJs and introduces original ideas into the conversation. More often than not, new sounds have been percolating up out of a localized scene for years before they gain ubiquity, a process that will be familiar to fans of ballroom, Jersey club, and, most recently, flex dance music (FDM). The latter has followed a familiar path, charting from its origins as a wildly dexterous dance style called flex in the early 1990s to a distinct genre over the past few decades. Gone are the days of public access television and shared bashment cassettes, but FDM has a new identity and new style, defined by a young, savvy group of producers and dancers who have brought the Brooklyn-born genre to global Rihanna tours and revered underground dancefloors the world over.
Brooklyn’s Epic B is one of the stars of the FDM world, emerging alongside Uninamise as Immortal Instruments in 2015, he has perfected a lean, powerful sound that merges a gruff ragga aesthetic with dramatic sample choices, often from fantasy movies and TV shows. 2016’s Riddims From the Gods Vol. 1 epitomized the Epic B sound with songs named after Greek Gods and an overwhelming sense of grandiosity. The songs are ambitious and over-the-top, but the sparse drum programming and ad lib-esque sample arrangements are so expertly concocted that it flows effortlessly. It was 2017’s Late Night FlexN that brought Epic B to listeners outside of the FDM and online club music community. Released by Manchester’s Swing Ting, who have been championing FDM in the UK for years, the EP is the most expansive FDM release to date, not only showcasing the aforementioned style but introducing Epic B as a vocalist and formalizing the link between dembow and the New York-born genre. The EP has since become a staple for DJs playing dancehall, reggaeton, rap and everything in between, providing a genuine pop moment in “One Time” and some of FDM’s most undeniable bangers in one fell swoop.
Beyond his production work, Epic B has also excelled as a DJ on The Lot Radio, co-hosting the Immortal Instruments show with Uninamise, which has become a go to for fans of the genre. And while he plays a range of new material from across the FDM spectrum on radio, we grabbed him for an almost all-original Astral Plane mix, featuring originals from Late Night and FlexN, Riddims From the Gods Vol. 1, as well as a host of exclusive material (“Mask Off Riddim” anyone?). It’s tightly organized and a sure bet to incite movement with its well timed pops, breaks and silences that work symbiotically with flex dancers. Download the mix here and hit the jump for a full track list. Follow Epic B on Soundcloud here.
Over the past few years, 90 – 100 BPM, DJ Mustard-style rap music has rivaled Atlanta’s supremacy over the part rap-scape and with it, Caribbean riddims at similar speeds have also slowly begun to creep back into the popular sonic lexicon. From Bobby Shmurda’s dancehall-tinged “Hot Nigga” to the success of New York label Mixpak and their key artist Popcaan, it appears that American audiences have slowly begun to accept everything from contemporary dancehall and soca, as well as native Miami bass and New Orleans bounce sounds. Of course, those sounds have always found a home in UK carnival culture and beyond, but the confluence of American rap and Caribbean sounds has begun to spread across all oceans.
Manchester crew Swing Ting, made up of Samrai, Platt, Joey B, Murlo and MC Fox, has been championing those sounds at their club night of the same name since 2008, pushing West Coast rap alongside grime and the solicitous sounds of Jamaica, Trinidad and beyond. And with everyone from Jam City to Drake embracing mid-tempo riddims, the Swing Ting crew looks to be playing the current role of both influencer and educator. Samrai, who has been a key contributor to Keysound’s compilation efforts for years, has proven to be one of the UK’s most invigorating producers, harnessing Swing Ting’s adventurous spirit in his ebullient production work. And alongside producers like Famous Eno (who contributed a remix to the first official Swing Ting release), Jubilee and crew mate Murlo, Samrai is one of only a handful that seems to truly appreciate and engage with bashment.
While we’ve never been lucky enough to make it across the ocean and up to Manchester for Swing Ting, Samrai’s Astral Plane mix is about as sure of a party starter as you’ll find in the series. From E-40’s absurd “Choices (Yup)” to a who’s who and what’s what of recent dancehall numbers, the mix is a rapid fire assemblage of cross-generational and cross-oceanographic heat. Also, be sure to catch SWINGTING002, a collaborative effort between Samrai and Platt featuring London MC Trigganom.