Beat Diaspora: Beats, Buses, Bricks

an omnivorous take on music of the beat-based variety and the urban spaces that nurture it

Friday, July 25, 2008

K-Swift Be Unruly

What could or should just be ruminations on this Bmore club massive that I attended last Friday is clearly overshadowed by the accidental passing of K-Swift later that weekend. It's chilling to have attended her penultimate gig at Baltimore's legendary nightclub the Paradox, a hulking warehouse in the shadow of Ravens Stadium, where freight trains rumble past throughout the night making for their own industrial air horns. It's an incredible club, exactly the kind of gritty space in a gritty part of town for either club -- Friday nights -- or the wilder side of house -- Saturday nights, especially the legendary Fever party (scroll down to episode 2) that put Baltimore on the map for electronic music.

The Paradox is the kind of place where you watch your back and ask someone to walk you to your car, so it was particularly galling to see a sizeable crowd of skinny jeans, ironic t-shirts, and asymmetrical haircuts. To some extent it epitomized the popularity of club music over the last couple years among a certain hip set. You can hear club tunes cranked out in just about any city across the U.S., Europe, and probably elsewhere, but how is it received nowadays in good ol' Baltimore?

The City Paper certainly noticed the mixed crowd, and it's impossible to get an exact read in the ebbs and flows of a nightclub -- who danced with who, who laughed at who, who earned respect -- it's hard to knock anyone for wanting to come to a line-up that huge. It was tri-state (MD, VA, PA) plus the District, and some NYC to boot. Orioles hats, Phillies hats, even a Nationals cap or too -- maybe it's no longer Baltimore club, but mid-Atlantic club, and in 20 odd years it's only logical that those Baltimore breaks have spread up and down I-95.

My Crew Be Unruly may not have been a Baltimore secret on Friday night, but it was still inner-city Baltimore in tone, and that's what counts. I suspect the out of town, art student, and suburban crowds (myself included on the latter count, at least for the time being) were unlikely to need to avail themselves of the services offered by K-Swift's sponsor (it was plastered all over the K-Swift t-shirts):

Therein lies K-Swift's greatest strength and what made her the rising star that she was: cross-crowd appeal with credibility, from her regular shows on 92Q to sharing a headliner spot with Diplo. Blaqstarr may be the next young DJ (and K-Swift was only 27, too) to look out for . . . he was there on Friday too, and I'll be seeing him on Sunday at the Rock the Bells Tour.

In conclussion, it was all the more depressing to receive a flyer for a K-Swift pool party, given it was a pool accident that caused her death.

For the time being, if you're local, there is a viewing today and a funeral tomorrow (see the 92Q link for details). And head to your local Downtown Locker Room to get any remaining Jump Off mixtapes -- they're going to be collector's items soon.

And on the DC side, check DJ C's tribute, then come see him live tonight in Silver Spring, MD. Gotta put the good word in for my house guest.

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