David Last Vs. Zulu Musically Massive
Published Jun 22, 2009There's no shortage of talented electronic producers collaborating with vocalists to create globally informed, dancehall-inspired beats. Musically Massive works this massive palette of rhythms and sounds with superior songwriting. While the vocal content of many big, bass-y choons often constitutes little more than party hearty window dressing, Zulu contribute reams of thoughtful, poetic lyrics. His commanding baritone flows easily over all the challenging yet banging beats that Last throws at him and sometimes he breaks it up with the sweetly sung backup vocals. He rides rough but he's no cartoon bad boy. Last sounds like he's having a ball, changing up tempos and idioms with great versatility. He hasn't abandoned his techno vocabulary, he's just adapted it to rhythms that owe a debt to early '90s dancehall. The techno-paced groove of "Spanish Fly" modulates several times underneath Zulu's urgent but serpentine vocals. "Hit Parade" starts off like an alien dancehall doo-wop tune but breaks into abrasive synth pads and a distorted break beat while Zulu salutes pirate radio up front in the mix. And yet there's an appealing, upbeat mood to these experiments, lending some occasionally great pop hooks to the disc.
How did the collaboration with David Last come about, was it similar to working with Ghislain Poirier?
MC Zulu: It started out as an internet collaboration but halfway through, since David Last already had a deal with Staubgold, we decided to make it official. There's a group of people who have been trading music back and forth and it's really grown into a culture now that's tangible. Same thing with Ghislain Poirier; he did a remix of a song I did with DJ C. I wrote him through MySpace to thank him and he said [badly and hilariously imitating a Quebecois accent], "I have more for you to do." He has a voice that makes me jealous! The ladies love it; they think he should be singing!
You have an amazing ability to flow over all kinds of different rhythms. How do you approach a track and what artists have influenced you in this regard?
Most of the time, dance music with vocals is just a lot of call and response. It's hard to get people to accept a full song written over a dance track. I'm really heavily influenced by the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, and Woody Guthrie - making music that reaches people somehow. Essentially I'm just trying to be myself. I'm not trying to be super-Jamaican bad man. (Staubgold)