Thursday, January 29, 2015
I've no idea who the GK Allstars were, where in London they're from, or indeed what GK stands for.... Just one of a rash of post-So Solid crews who wound up on this compilation Garage Rap Vol. 1. Which I seem to remember hearing advertised on the pirates, but having to search really hard to find, and finally picking up a copy at an urban music shop on Portobello. No idea if there was ever a Garage Rap Vol. 2.
Apart from "Garage Feeling" the sole other thing I've heard by GK Allstars is "Can You Handle Us", which I have only as the segment of pirate radio below - some kind of guest spot on a show? It goes into a remix of "Garage Feeling."
What I like about "Feeling" especially is that So Solid-like pinched-throat quality to the flow - something that marks the track as garage rap as opposed to grime. Grime MCs tended to roar a bit more - the timbre is richer, there's a bit more character perhaps. Garage rap MCs tended to anonymity, reflecting perhaps their collective nature, their team-player function. 2001-2002 was still the era of crews, rather than break-out individual stars.
Here's what I said about "Garage Feeling" at the time, when it made #5 in my Faves of 2002.
“Garage Feeling” (GK Allstars)
This chart’s fastest riser; a week ago it would have been just crinkling the edge of the Top 20. “Garage feeling, come on ravers, feel what I’m feeling” is the chorus lick, but it doesn’t feel like garage: the ominous glower of suppressed thunder running behind most of this track is more redolent of the blaring noise-riffs on Trace/Nico/Ed Rush/Fierce tunes from ’96 (i.e. the kind of dirgefunk that originally drove the jungle massive into the garage in the first place). A lot of garage rap, it’s like No U Turn if they’d used MCs, and the MCs tried to match the sheer toxicity of the noise with their lyrics. The No U Turn boys talked about wanting to “hurt people” with their beats, of being on a “hurter’s mission”, and that’s what most of the MCing is about: verbal maiming, ego-mangling, rubbing people’s faces in their nobody status. Not this tune, though: “Garage Feeling” is a celebration, albeit one queerly pitched between euphoria and dread: a communal anthem for a scene organized around the dream of leaving behind your community and achieving mega-stardom. What’s to celebrate? Just the struggle, the determination, the confidence that you will triumph. Shining in the darkness.