I posted a podcast earlier this week with the Renassiance Project's, Michael Richardson-Borne, where we spoke about Generation-Y and the music that defines us. During the call I said that "one of the things that hasn't really defined [our generation] yet is a music of it's own". Now when I said that, I was thinking mostly in terms of the of the music of the sixies. It had a huge impact on the Boomers, not to mention the rest of us (I love the music from that era). At first glance I wasn't sure that Gen-Y had a similar defining sound. But I might've have been wrong.
As Michael says later in the interview, he remembers "hearing people who were young in '60s talk about the first time they heard the electirc guitar, the first time they heard Bob Dylan or Jimi Hendrix - that sound spoke to them". He believes that for this generation, our sound has something to do with hip hop and dubstep/electronica. "Talking with friends all around the world the universal languages are hip hop and electronica. And there's a certain sound and energetic which is connected to a certian attitude with those".
I don't know much about electronica, and seldom listen to it on purpose. But I've listened to a hell of a lot of hip hop. And the more I got to thinking the more I realized that hip hop really has spread to all corners of the globe. It's also had a huge cultural impact. Maybe not in the socially challenging manner of the Boomer's anti-war music, but I challenge you to visit any city in the world and not find young people dressing the part and bumping hiphop in their headphones. What is it about this sound, this energetic, that is so appealing to this generation? Maybe it's all we've got. Or maybe there's something more defining to it than that, speaking to a mood or flavour of the times. I'm not exactly sure, but it was pretty easy to me to call up a half dozen of my favourite international hip hop artists. Apparently they're spread far and wide.Orishas. Cuba
A Cuban group I had in heavy rotation back in the early 2000's. A cool mix of smooth flow and ass-rolling beats.
DJ Honda. Japan
One of my favourites from the '90s. Honda mixed beats for some of hip hops best North American artists, including Mos Def, Jeru da Damaja, the Beatnuts, and Common.
Actually from the UK, Punjabi produces what he calls bhangra-hop, a mix of hip hop and a traditional Punjabii sound popular within the British-Indian community.
MC Solaar. France
This African-born Frenchman has stayed relevant since the early '90s and is one of the few (quasi) popular French rappers in North America.
Dizzee Rascal. UK
A UK artist whose blend of hip hop and electronica beats put him in a similar category to fellow UK international, M.I.A.
Toledo. Costa Rica
Had to add this sick Central American track made with some buddies of mine down in Costa Rica, shouts to Tango & Cash.
This track by Taiwanese group TriPoets (recently linked to by mr. Richardson-Borne himself) is as good as any I've heard on this side of the Pacific.
I've left out a few of the obvious characters, like the Somali-born K'naan or the Haitian-born Wyclef Jean, in favour of some from overseas. Feel free to add to the list if you can.