Crucial China clubbing institution The Shelter turns eight this week, with impressive bookings every night. Let's focus on two that approach future sounds quite differently. On Thursday you've got hypermodern grime / hip hop / R&B / club music act Future Brown featuring MC Roachee. Future Brown involves four avant-garde solo producers -- Fatima Al Qadiri, J-Cush, and Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda (Nguzunguzu) -- coming together to work with MCs from across the world on a much-hyped (and divisive) debut album that dropped on Warp earlier this year. Theirs is an often cold, violent, modern, club sound of the future, with lots of Auto-Tune and Chicago drill-rap-meets-London-underground vibes. I've seen all four of these characters DJ before, and they're all really skilled and fun to listen to, with plenty of their own solo tracks and bootlegs.
Key Trax: "Wanna Party", "Vernáculo ft. Maluca", "Big Homie (feat. Sicko Mobb)", Rinse FM Podcast w/J-Cush w/Roachee, Prince Rapid, Cadell, Fudz + So Large.
Then on Saturday, the VOID crew brings us a more playful, old-school, and synth-heavy vision of the future -- perhaps a more Knight Rider vision -- via a live set by DMX Krew, a British dude who's been releasing melodic (sometimes delightfully cheesy), old-school electro / electropop / acid / breakbeat tunes since the mid '90s, with dozens of releases on Aphex Twin's Rephlex label and International Deejay Gigolo Records. His tunes are more in the vein of Prince / Egyptian Lover / Adult / '80s breakdance music. This is more like fantasy retro-future, with neon lights and robots dancing to Freeez's "I.O.U.". DMX performs live with an MPC, a mic, and a Roland TR-303 (the classic acid box). Here's him destroying a rave in Russia. This looks like one of the year's best shows for live electronic music.
Key Trax: Bass Agenda Podcast & Interview (so good, this), "Showroom Dummies Part 1 & II", "Dramatic Exit".
Ahead of these shows, I hung out with Future Brown's J-Cush and MC Roachee on a playground for the elderly while some dudes dropped construction bags down from the sixth floor and gave us the thumbs up. I did not get to meet DMX, but we talked over email. Let's get into the mixtape!
J-Cush (right) and Roachee hanging in the alleys near Fahuazhen Lu on Wednesday
1. In The Club
DMX Krew: Charles Dodge - "He Destroyed Her Image"
"This always gets the girls moving and puts a smile on everyone's face."
Future Brown: Future Brown - "Wanna Party"
J-Cush: "'Wanna Party' we made the night before with Mike Q… It took [Tink] less than two hours to write the lyrics; she didn't have anything ready, did everything in one take, even the adlibs and harmonies and everything. It was just perfect. I've never seen any singer work like that. Then after those songs, Timbaland came in, like six months later, and you could tell Timbaland wasn't letting her go, because she's just that good."
[Note: J-Cush suggested the bootleg with Tim Vocals, which you can find on that Rinse FM Podcast]
2. In The Car / On Public Transport
DMX Krew: Rave Creator - "Immortal"
"Helps me stay calm in London traffic jams."
J-Cush: Lil Durk - "Like Me (Remix) feat. Jeremih, Lil Wayne & Fetty Wap"
"I do like my American shit in the car. If this is meant to be all of Future Brown, Jeremih works. Lil Durk and Jeremih we both really wanted to work with. We were trying to work with Lil Durk's cousin, OTF Nunu, but he got shot at the fucking mall."
3. The Sun Has Come Up, But You Can't Fall Asleep, And You're Feeling A Bit Off...
DMX Krew: Cylob - "Sixed"
"This usually helps me drift off into a nice relaxing rest."
J-Cush: Every DJ EZ Boiler Room set
"If you can't go to sleep, listen to some DJ EZ (or DJ Slimzee) -- stay up. If you're fucked, just stay up."
4.!! FIGHTING !!
DMX Krew: Alvin Lucier - "I Am Sitting In A Room"
"This makes me get really hyped. You have to listen to the whole thing though."
Roachee: Diesle D Power ft. Roachee & So Large - "What Have You Done"
"Basically, it's asking people, what have you done? You've been talking about guns...how you've got money...we don't believe you're this guy -- what have you really done?"
5. Sunday Morning
DMX Krew: C-Tank - "Nightmares are reality"
"Helps me chill out on a mellow sunday sesh."
J-Cush: Newham Generals - "Big"
"I need to go into those Traxman libraries and find some deeper samples...Bobby Womack, has anyone said that before? I'm pretty full on. Grime -- doesn't matter what time of day. Sunday morning, Newham Generals, "Big". That tune will get you feeling like you're on stuff first thing in the morning, [like you're] big in the game, you're untouchable."
Roachee: "In my house we tend to play a lot of reggae on Sundays. Slow music."
Future Brown and Roachee play The Shelter on Thursday, Dec 3. DMX Krew performs there on Saturday night.