A few days ago, the Fade to Mind movement released the final product in collaboration with director Jude MC and the LA Museum of Contemporary Art.
In January, the instrumental was featured on Fade to Mind sister label Night Slugs‘ Allstars Volume 2. It was a standout, but even with its minimal, effective production, unpredictable tones and surgically clean claps, it felt more like an experiment from the Night Slugs/Fade to Mind laboratory than a completed vision.
I heard LA based (and Fade to Mind signee) Kelela‘s version when she sang it live in Bok Bok‘s recent grime set. While Kingdom‘s original was worth purchasing, his version with Kelela’s voice makes it worth keeping on the playlist for years to come. It had the humanity I needed.
I wondered why I hadn’t paid more attention when I heard the instrumental. Then I remembered a lecture Bok Bok gave in May at Red Bull Music Academy. He spoke like a post grime philosopher. He gave the audience just enough explanation of Night Slugs’ trademark sound to inspire and inform, but in his mind, he was still writing the code for the program. There was still room for innovation.
“There’s a manifesto of sorts… no long reverbs, no unnecessary vocals, no unnecessary effects… all of these rules have been broken somewhere in the Club Constructions catalogue, but it has to feel a certain way.”
In London, Bok Bok is the creative head of Night Slugs. In LA, Kingdom blazes a parallel but very different trail. While Bok’s roots lay in the potent simplicity of grime beats, Kingdom has cited Timbaland, who shared an infamous winning streak of lurky r&b singles with Aaliyah in the ’90s. He reminded us what’s missing.
When I heard Kelela on the track, I heard two airplanes conjoining mid-flight. Fueling each other. In the video below, the two characters share a close relationship with important boundaries. It’s a careful union. The magic of the track survives in the delicate connection between Kingdom’s production and Kelela’s voice.
As the world of bass changes, even the most devoted among us try to convince ourselves that the beat is all we need.
Still, every rhythm deserves a voice.