||Wanye & Wax|
Boston Jerk CD (2004)
Wicked Wicked music Boston Jerk describes a few different things. For most Jamaicans, it refers to a small town on the northeast coast of the island, famous for its jerk-style cooking. As a Bostonian (though I am, technically, a Cantabridgian), I found it funny that Boston Jerk would be a familiar phrase in Jamaica. I know plenty of folks in the Boston area who would qualify for such a title. While spending six months in Jamaica last year, I decided to claim the name for myself in an attempt to foreground my position as an outsider and my desire to be critical about what I see and experience, regardless of where I am. After all, who else but a jerk would come to Jamaica intending to produce "Jamaican" music (with a little up-north flavor)? Who else but a jerk would come "from foreign" and try to say something new about Jamaican music, culture, and society?
Boston Jerk also refers to the sonic concoction that emerges from my Jamaican experience. I've done my homework on reggae music and I've had my ears open for a while now (at least since high school dances at CRLS, which--in the early 90s anyway--were consistently dominated by dancehall), and my production style and vocal style reflect my study of reggae music and the rich Kingstonian soundscape that became my world from January to June of 2003. I've tried to re-present this soundscape, in my own way, on this album. Thus, one hears the sounds I heard (and recorded), remixed: stray dogs do the Diwali, taximen chant back to base, crickets and cocks get their freak on, and TV quiz-show teens shout, "Halle Berry," as quickly as they answer, "God."
The full-fledged songs here serve as reflections on life in Jamaica (and beyond). Sometimes I made the beats, while my collaborators recited their pre-composed rhymes or came up with new ones on the spot. Sometimes the track was a more organic collabo--check Dami D's dictaphone sketch for an example. Writing and recording songs together was one of my primary research methods, allowing me to learn a lot more about another artist's musical sensibility than a cold interview might offer. It built friendships, too--which also lessens any prospect of a chilly conversation. Throughout the album, I've included interview segments (over beats) in order to add another layer of meaning to the music. These are the DJs' own thoughts about their art and life-and their reactions to some tough questions. The sequencing of the album is also rather deliberate: as the album progresses, I try to add more and more layers of meaning on top of each other, in the hope that the juxtapositions, tone-shifts, contradictions, and ironies will produce the kind of internal critique that seems necessary for thoughtful, reflective art at this moment.
Consider this the synthesis to my dissertation's analysis. Whereas when writing I seek to separate lines of influence, when making music I move to merge. It's a unity thing, y'know. Boston Jerk represents my genuine attempt to bring many voices into dialogue and many perspectives to bear on each other-not to mention rhythms. My hope is that, overall, it makes for a rich listening experience. As always, I'm out ...