Monday, 1 May 2017
Oliver!: Pointblank - Planting Semtex (14 March 1992)
One of the best tracks I ever heard on Huw Stephens's nascent BBC Introducing show was Thou Shalt Always Kill from 2007, by Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip. It wasn't just because it was a brilliantly delivered set of Commandmemts by which any 18 year old (or 31 in my case at the time) could live their life by when it came to personal relationships, socialising etiquette or relationship to music, but because it shed light on an inner secret of music. In this case, it was the use of the phrase "kill" to mean "come up with killer rhymes". This was important to ignoramuses like myself, given that the use of words connected with violence has always been bound up with rap/hip-hop/beatz poetry, and the resultant negative perception which the form carries around as a result. And I say that while fully acknowledging the slew of tracks where violent phrasing means exactly what it says.
Nevertheless, I found myself thinking about this use of bluff and extended wordplay when listening to Planting Semtex, the only release by Kold Sweat duo, Pointblank. The incendiary title, designed to raise hackles, but in actuality talking about putting a bomb under PopLand. For the rest, it reaches out to broach on other subjects including inner city inequality and stifled opportunities for black people both domestically and in South Africa. However, it doesn't overcommit to this, falling back instead into boastful, loud and proud declarations of their own abilities as wordsmiths - an important piece of self-esteem, possibly all that they have. It's an uneasy brew, which hangs together a little awkwardly, but the conviction in the delivery makes it a compelling listen. I also love the shoutout to various London massives at the end, which continues on even after the backing track has dropped out. It was always marvellous on the Peel Show when those stentorian callouts to their fellow men fell away only for Peel to uncertainly try and respond - like David Cameron pressed into emergency service at a hip-hop battle royale.
"Thou shall not make repetitive, generic music".
Videos courtesy of THECONSORTIUM (Pointblank) and lesacvspip (Le Sac/Pip).