‘Boy Meets Evil’: In Bristol
Inspired by my favourite playlist of Bristol sound/trip hop scene artists
Disclaimer: Opinions are of personal taste and preference
One of my dream collaborations for j-hope is with Bristol sound/trip hop pioneers Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky as I believe they will make meaningful and quality music together. To begin, I doubt I’m the first to notice but ‘Boy Meets Evil’ (BME) has uncanny stylistic and conceptual alliance with the genre’s classics such as ‘Glory Box’, ‘Hell is Round the Corner’ and ‘(Exchange)’, to name a few.
The Bristol sound is also popularly known as trip hop, a term rejected by its pioneers despite becoming a synonym for the style that they and other artists of the Bristol sound scene of their time (1990s) created.
Read more here: The Bristol Sound — How The West Was Won — Classic Pop Magazine
‘Trip hop’ was first used by Andy Pemberton of UK music media (Mixmag) to describe the more experimental form of breakbeat from the early 90s of the Bristol sound scene, which has influences of soul, funk, and jazz.
Massive Attack’s first album ‘Blue Lines’ (1991), is often hailed as the first embodiment of the Bristol hip hop movement, before transitioning into a darker direction that is Bristol sound/trip hop. This is also where the brilliant ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ came from.
The genre is essentially an indistinguishable fusion of hip hop with electronica yet extremely experimental and includes diverse styles such as dub, funk, house, jazz, soul and other electronic music forms, similar to j-hope’s solo discography — solo and in group releases.
Clever and effective use of samples exemplify its experimental quality and inclusion of diverse styles. Massive Attack’s use of samples in their genius ‘Mezzanine’ is a classic and just like these icons, j-hope similarly experiments with a whole range of styles.
Trip hop’s signature melancholic sound and atmospherics fuse turntable scratching, breakbeat rhythms and instrumental hip hop as well as piano, wind (sax, trumpet) and unconventional instruments (theremin, mellotron).
The j-hope sound is distinct from the group sound due to his experimental and diverse musical style, evident in his topliner group tracks, ‘Dis-ease’ and ‘Dionysus’, solo features ‘Boy Meets Evil’, ‘MAMA’, ‘Outro: Ego’ and ‘Trivia: Just Dance’, solo singles ‘1 Verse’, ‘Chicken Noodle Soup’ and ‘Blue Side (2021)’ and his debut mixtape ‘HOPE WORLD’.
j-hope also uses samples cleverly for instance in ‘1 Verse’ with ‘El Chapo’ by The Game ft. Skrillex, in ‘Airplane’ with ‘La Chainer’ a 120bpm trap synth loop by Joneschr002 and in ‘Outro: Ego’ with ‘2 Cool 4 Skool’, which in turn sampled off of ‘Touch Steps/Two Beat Turn/Freestyle Routine’ by K-Tel (8:40–45).
j-hope is known to love all things old school (80s, 90s, 00s) and turntable scratching is often associated with his style. he used it to clever effect in his topliner group track, ‘Dis-ease’ which received accolades for its musical and lyrical sophistication and honoured as one of the best songs of 2020 by three renowned US media i.e. Esquire, Consequence of Sound and Refinery29:
1. N°6 in 30 Best Songs playlist 2020: As Close As I Can Get to You by Esquire Editor-in-Chief David Holmes
2. N°32 in ‘Top 50 Best of the Year 2020’ by Consequence of Sound
3. Listed in ‘Music Saved 2020: The 29 Best Songs Of The Year 29’ by Refinery29
Trip hop’s atmospheric overtones create a mellower tempo and goes beyond hardcore rap, lyrically and stylistically. j-hope has also now made mellow, low, whisper rap his signature style such as ‘Jamais Vu’, ‘Blue and Grey’, ‘Film Out’, and ‘My Universe’ among others.
I’ve always loved j-hope’s rap style and over the years, he has come to his own in the art form. He has become a distinctive, unique and very accomplished rapper in his own right. j-hope has shared that he wants to create a more intimate feeling by ‘talk-rapping’ in his verses and achieve a ‘mature and intense’ quality to his next mixtape as he wishes to relate with deeper experiences and emotions that he now has. His beats, lyrics, whisper rap style and dance genius set to the graceful, enigmatic, and smoky Bristol sound/trip hop will certainly be mature and intense, as he desires his next mixtape to be. His ‘Blue Side (2021)’ is evidence of the endless possibilities.
The recent collaboration with Coldplay is proof that when young artists have aligned musical, artistic, and moral compass with more experienced, acclaimed, and respected artists, their shared works reflect principles and polished quality. j-hope is also one of the few truly principled young artists around now who don’t compromise on the value of integrity, industry, and quality. He’s also an incredibly talented and versatile visionary, seen in his work and work ethics over the years. I wish for him to achieve fulfilment of his artistry and vision through working with established, acclaimed, and respected artists that the Bristol sound pioneers are but without compromising on quality and integrity.
To end, here are two analyses to better understand the brilliance that the Bristol sound/trip hop genre is and how j-hope would make magic out of it.
Note to self: There are so many other things I’ve been unable to mention in this article, such as the cultural aspects of the Bristol sound and how that too aligns with j-hope’s style, seen in his ‘CNS’ but that’s for another discussion. In the meantime, listen to, support, and share j-hope’s music, artistry, and vision.
This write-up has been slightly edited; the original was first posted on Tumblr: https://10003800.tumblr.com/post/665807460222779392/boy-meets-evil-in-bristol on 23 October 2021