Discover more from The Unskippables
all it costs is your culture: datpiff and de la soul
m83! shana cleveland! nia archives! gorillaz! sprawling canadian post-rock!!!
Coming to you a day late thanks to an arduous apartment move – next week’s issue will come to you live from Bed-Stuy Brooklyn!
For about twelve hours Monday night, Twitter was lit up with RIP Datpiff tweets after the influential mixtape site went down. Artists, bloggers, and fans hopped out to pay their respects…only to see this in the AM. (For the record, I blew up many chats with its alleged demise.)
I mean, maybe? Seems like maybe they were pulling down the site and got caught and are capitalizing on goodwill, or maybe someone really did just trip over the server’s power cord. Either way: it was wild seeing a humongous chunk of rap history just disappear in the middle of the night, even if momentarily.
It hit especially hard after spending a week re-listening to De La Soul’s discography, finally unstuck from copyright limbo and released back on streaming services. What cultural artifacts are stuck between the cracks of aging platforms, unable to get permission to live on places like Spotify or Apple Music?
In light of De La Soul’s re-release on streamers, Dan Charnas wrore about legalizing sampling for Slate, looking at the macro issues that hurt records from being discovered by a new generation of fans, and Matthew Perpetua put together a “Golden Age of Samples” playlist for Fluxblog celebrating other sample-heavy records available on DSPs – both worth digging into.
To me, it’s a good reminder that these platforms don’t give a shit about cultural memory unless it’s part of a campaign to get your dollars. They aren’t public goods, and they only care about preserving artists’ legacies as much as those artists and labels help drive their bottom line. No one will love you back as much as the MP3s on your hard drive. Buy the records you care about. Be a custodian of the shit you love.
Two alternate thoughts:
Making shit hard to find is good, actually: Will Hagle’s interview with photographer B+ goes in-depth on the impact of a 2002 Brazil trip with Madlib had on Madvillainy and how the hunt for those Brazilian samples created connections between artists, labels, fans, and DJs, and helped make Stones Throw the label it is today. Maybe if you can’t stream it, it’ll get…more valuable?
You can’t borrow then pout: I think about Pharrell’s pissed-off deposition from the “Blurred Lines” suit all the time. Obviously no one likes being deposed, but if one of the most well-known figures in pop won’t engage on the merits of how a new song is different than a similar one by Marvin Gaye, maybe we deserve the legal copyright shit show we’re in now?
M83 - Amnesia
M83 are back with their new album Fantasy this week, and “Amnesia” hit me hard as an unreal New Order rip blown up so it’s a stadium-sized anthem. You think you’re wrapped on an airtight indie pop song, then it takes a detour in the closing minute to rocket into the stars –your friends who are really into festivals are gonna lose their shit over this one this summer.
ALL HANDS_MAKE LIGHT – We Live On A Fucking Planet And Baby That’s The Sun
Gen Z will never know the feeling of when your friend who went to college comes back after freshman year with a huge book of burned CDs and shows you Godspeed! You Black Emperor while you drive around your hometown. All Hands Make Light are Ariel Engle (La Force, Broken Social Scene) and Efrim Manuel Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion), and it’s a little less self-serious post-rock than Stereolab-meets-Jodorowsky sunburned psych drone on “We Live On A Fucking Planet And Baby That’s The Sun.” But you can bet your ass it’s ten minutes long!!
Gorillaz feat. Beck - Possession Island
This is an incredible top-to-bottom Bowie harmony ripoff from Beck, who wraps Damon Albarn in some low Thin White Duke vibes. The song’s closing mariachi flip is a bit ill-advised, but as an album closer, “Possession Island” is an incredible summary of the power of Gorillaz’s melancholy pastiche twenty years on.
Shana Cleveland – Faces In The Firelight
Formerly of La Luz, Shana Cleveland dropped her 2nd solo LP Manzanita last week, filled with midnight Laurel Canyon melancholy. “Faces in The Firelight’s” cello, bass, and bone-dry drums give the track a slinky, seductive swing, Cleveland’s muted coo riding perfectly on top.
Nia Archives feat. Maverick Sabre – No Need 2 Be Sorry, Call Me?
According to an interview with Apple Music, Nia Archives’ new EP Sunrise Bang Your Head Against The Wall was inspired by “obviously 1992-1996 old-school jungle, my fave jungle era, Brazilian music, some real indie/emo/punk moments, R&B-esque and soul moments,” and on "No Need 2 Be Sorry, Call Me?” she nails the feeling of the best of early UK funky/garage, with the track’s melancholy floating over skittering, propulsive breaks. The whole EP is a blast, if this is your thing.
Errorsmith - Most Elastic
Errorsmith’s 2 came out in 2000, and when I found it I couldn’t believe how prescient its warped, minimal beats feel in 2023. Errorsmith built his own digital modular instruments for this project, and the soundpalate – buoyant, sizzling, angular – feel like the sound palate for hyperpop and digicore stripped of its pop ambitions. This is pure synthetic muscle and stripped-down angles, defiantly un-pop and incredibly forward-looking.