The rise of Jamie XX has been spectacular and swift. His band the XX came on the scene only a couple of years ago and soon after their critically acclaimed debut album was being hyped up to the max.
It won the mercury music prize too and in the meanwhile the XX had done some choice remixes for high profile artists like Florence and the Machine. His remix of “Rolling in the deep” by Adele was arguably one of the best remixes of the last couple of years and very similar in groove to a remix he did of Gil Scott Heron’s “NY is killing me” from his last album. The Gil Scott album was remixed in full by Jamie XX and released as “We’re new here” earlier this year. Jamie XX and the XX thus became even more prominent but the next chapter is where it all gets even bigger, despite it not being fully written yet!
The “I’ll take care of you” remix from the late great Gil Scott Heron has been more or less remixed on Drake’s new album with the Canadian rapper being supplemented by none other than Rihanna on vocals. Gil Scott’s orginal vocal sits on the bridge, and the single, called “Take Care”, is likely to be the smash that proves pivitol in breaking Drake’s career over in Europe aswell as around the world. It’s an amazing tune and set to blow the pop charts wide open when it comes out, the fact that Rihanna is one of the biggest artists in the world right now will certainly add to the attention.
The XX have also been sampled on the new Rihanna album with the track “Drunk on love”. The “intro” track provides the sample in a track polished up by Stargate. “Intro” was just one of the many XX tracks bootlegged and sampled and remixed by producers in the last few years, the young Bay Area DJ Wait Wait used the whole XX album for a project which blended in classic raps from Biggie Smalls over their music. It’s pretty cool stuff and possibly inspired the Stargate use of the XX on the Rihanna album.
The fact that some young UK producer is one of the hottest young talents when it comes to mainstream North American r&b and hip-hop is impressive, but more and more American artists have been looking to outside their own scenes for inspiration lately. With so much mainstream music sounding generic it is a good way of catching attention, as the Americans take the hippest European cuts to a different audience. A good example would be Kanye West and Jay Z using Flux Pavilion on their “Watch the Throne” album for “I can’t stop”, though much of the dubstep pillaging by r&b and rap has not been as classy.
It’s hardly a new phenomena and the inspiration has been going back and forth in all music cultures for many years. In Jamaica the early roots of reggae productions were simply jazz bands covering american r&b and jazz, until the more laidback style of the locals became more popular than the originals. The music of reggae and ska then went around the world and inspired others and devloped into other realms, thus continuing the cycle. Jamie XX is one of the many in the thick of this amazing musical evolution. If you don’t know about him yet, you surely will soon, as he is gonna be breaking into the mainstream even more now thanks to Drake and Rihanna.
This article appeared first in my Evening Echo column last week
The XX played a superb gig in our venue a few years ago. Here is a nice photo of the XX in the Pavilion by Rory Cobbe at http://www.flickr.com/photos/frenchsvilla/4196139962/