Wondering what people are listening to outside the U.S.? International Hit Parade is reviews of songs hitting the pop charts in Europe and the Caribbean.
In that bastion of pure pop, Great Britain, the shiny shadow of America's monsters of music often seems to loom over the local talent like slick Godzillas. But nestled at Number 11 this week in the U.K. charts, between American divas Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, there's a scrappy little dance track called "Badman Riddim (Jump)" by Vato Gonzalez and the Foreign Beggars. The "dirty house" sound of the track is unheard in the U.S. charts, but typifies Britain today. That is, the song's title is in Jamaican patois; the producer Vato Gonzalez is Dutch; the MCs of Britain's Foreign Beggars are from Ghana and India and rap in accents from broad cockney to Jamaican yard-style.
Courtesy of Dented Records
Courtesy of Dented Records
Members of the Euro-House nation, Vato Gonzalez and the Foreign Beggars typify a new breed of global citizen, who's sworn allegiance to the 140 b.p.m. synthesized drum; a bigger bond than details like where you were born.
Self-styled as "the most rebellious Dutch DJ," Gonzalez (real name Björn Franken) is the instigator of "dirty house," by which he means a vigorous, unpretentious, heartfelt style of house music. Gonzalez prides himself on sticking to modern delivery systems like mixtapes and downloads that bypass the traditional industry retail structure; "Badman Riddim (Jump)" is a digital-only release. The viral success of the rhythm track led to U.K. label Ministry of Sound matchmaking him with underground rave culture heroes the Foreign Beggars, comprised of MCs Orifice Vulgatron (Pavan Mukhi) and Metropolis (Ebow Graham), and DJ Nonames (James Miller). The first time Gonzalez heard their vocal was when they emailed him the finished track.
In his outlaw leanings, Gonzalez is a fine foil for the Foreign Beggars, lauded lords of British dance musics such as dubstep and grime, particularly as both partners like to be funny. Giggles are the secret to the success of "Badman Riddim (Jump)." Blasts of ominous-sounding chords evoking a cheesy 1950s horror flick soundtrack pepper the stripped-down synthesized stabs of Gonzalez's track; Foreign Beggars exhort their listeners to "Jump!" with lively, percussive conviction.
Shot on a roof-top, their video is endearingly lo-fi. A central motif is not some costly aerial shot, but a hand-operated puppet theater made of cardboard. The "band" play up the horror flick schtick by dressing as Godzillas, but far from being slick, their disguises are made out of purple and green paper. All except for the Monster In Black. His costume is also paper, but its overlapping, fish-like scales resemble, yes, old-fashioned vinyl records! Even dedicated digitalists have to respect how pop music began.