New Years Eve Guide
Related Articles: Music, All

Roni Size and Reprazent

If you add up the obvious, San Francisco is no place for drum and bass. For starters, this is dance music in its most inaccessible form: grimy, overly masculine of late, and truly epileptic in nature, DnB simply doesn't cater to what is an admittedly uncoordinated city. Whereas trance and house virtually do the dancing for you, drum and bass seems damn near undanceable. The music teases you with complexity: the snares skitter, the basslines warble, and the breakbeats beckon, urging you to find the ecstatic rhythm that snakes underneath it all. And though DnB still exists as the black sheep of the S.F. dance scene, its followers have a focus that's never been sharper. Nightlies at the Cat Club and Sno-Drift bring in top DnB talent like clockwork (Goldie, Grooverider, etc.), and when coupled with emerging DJ/Producer crews like Phunkateck and True Intent, San Francisco is quietly becoming the American anecdote to a bad case of Eurocentrism.

Bristol, England's Roni Size saw this early, having played here almost three years ago with his Reprazent collective. It was a stop on Size's first U.S. tour that damn near blew the roof off Bimbo's 365 club. Size's Reprazent, which consists of fellow DJ/Producers Die and Krust, emcees Onallee and Dynamite, bassist Si John, and drummer Rob Merrill, played material off the group's Mercury Prize-winning debut New Forms. The album, which was heavily predicated on the jazz music, brought together agile beats, Onallee's sultry vocals, and ravishingly simple basslines in what was ultimately the landmark record of the genre. And the group transferred this sound seamlessly onto the stage.

If you missed the show, which was played back in 1998, you'll be glad to know that they are returning to the Bay Area, this time at San Francisco's Maritime Hall. The Reprazent crew will be playing material off Size's new record, In The Mode. It is a stark contrast from his previous effort, showing off Size's true ambidexterity in that it funnels hip-hop, snazzier production work, and even some rock 'n' roll into a traditional drum and bass format. The Roots' Rahzel, Method Man, and Rage Against The Machine's Zack De La Rocha all have cameo rolls on the album, demonstrating their affection for Size's talent, but more importantly, supporting a sound they see as the future.