Fri, Mar 17, 2006 - Page 15 News List

The Vinyl Word

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

The writing is on the wall for dance music, in Ximending, Taipei, as hip hop, baggy pants and graffiti takes over.

PHOTO: JULES QUARTLY, TAIPEI TIMES

In case you haven't noticed dance music has been losing its footing and sliding down the pop charts, while hip hop has returned bolder and bigger than ever. Even the Brits are turning to homegrown hip hop (they call it grime, sublow or dubstep), from the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Wiley.

In Taipei, you only have to take a walk down the avenues of fashion on Zhongxiao East Road and in Ximending to see that baggy pants, hip-hop hats and heavy chains are the order of the day.

Hip hop DJ Marcus Aurelius, however, likes to draw a distinction between the US style of music and how it gets translated over here. "I asked a guy what he thought hip hop was and he said it was fashion. Real hip hop is more heart and soul."

Ah-han (阿漢), who sells Karl Kani gear in an alley off Kunming Street in Ximending, basically doesn't disagree but adds there are other reasons why hip hop has taken off for many Taiwanese. "It gives a feeling of freedom because you don't have to be well dressed or spend a lot of money to look good. It's a street culture, there's the clothes, the music and the dancing ... and the good-looking girls like it."

Also, hip hop is not tainted by drugs in the same way that dance music is. Government agencies court the youth vote with hip hop ads and studios promote hip hop dancing. Mando pop stars rap, but local DJs find it hard to break through into the mainstream.

"Taiwan has given dance music a bad name because of its association with drugs a few years ago. Dance clubs in Kaohsiung were not allowed to operate until recently, whereas hip hop clubs were allowed to stay open," Aurelius said.

Check out the la-meis and Japan's DJ Alamaki tonight at Plush, which has become one of the top venues in town, with DJs Kid, Afro, E-Dragon and the recommended Chicano.

MC Hot Dog's album Wake Up will give you a taste of some home-grown sounds, while the action's at Cor and Party Room most weekends, and at Club TU on Wednesday for a dirty grind. Luxy, however, has the biggest stick and in addition to running the wildly popular ladies' night events with Liquid Lifestyle, has been behind most of the big artists who have flown into town, including last Saturday's three-hour extravaganza with DJ Premier from Gang Starr, along with Big Shug on MC duty.

And don't worry dance fans, the wheels keep turning.

Tonight there is a St.Patrick's day party at new venue War! (behind Sogo in Taichung), with draft green beer and free Bailey's popsicles. Saucey will be playing with Declan and DJ Jones.

Also tonight, there will be a massive party at The Wall when the world's number one drum 'n' bass producer DJ Fresh from Bad Company blows in for a night of pounding beats, with Zeon, Juicyas, Chin, Funkstar, Elements and MC Beemer. The Wall is at B1, 200, Roosevelt Rd, Sec 4, Taipei (台北市羅斯福路四段200B1).

On Sunday, after ice hockey and DJs at the Taipei Arena (starting 7:30pm), there will be a "Sunday on the Rocks" party at Deluxe, 2F, 2, Nanjing E Rd, Sec 4, Taipei (台北市南京東路四段22F), starting midnight. Marcus Aurelius, Coffey and J-RO will be doing the business on the decks.

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