Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why we dance - dance and the brain

Nobel Prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman tells us that the brain can be conceived of as being two systems.  System 1 is the part of the brain that makes the quick and easy decisions that we make every second of every day, whilst system 2 becomes engaged when there is deep thinking to be done.

As you can probably guess, dancing is more of a system 1 task, which is to say that most of the time it’s easy to do (unless your trying to remember last nights choreography from class).  The ease with which we retrieve from our memory a dance move that we want to do is called cognitive ease.  For example, when Gangnam Style comes on, your brain doesn't have to work very hard to retrieve memories of Psy doing the horsey dance, and these simple moves (which you've probably repeated often in your own bedroom) are easily recalled and then performed.

This process could also explain why people avoid dancing.  If dancing becomes more about the context in which the dance is performed – who is watching me and what are they thinking, am I too exposed – then the decision to dance becomes more complex and induces those uncomfortable feelings that we all try and avoid.

If you have a friend who never dances, chances are they are experiencing some of these emotions.  It may even be that they just don’t know or enjoy the music, and that the process of deciding how to dance to the unfamiliar music is too hard.  This is what’s known as cognitive strain, and it’s what happens when you engage your system 2 and start deep thought, and it makes you frown and produces negative emotions.  
For an easy example of System 2 thought, try multiplying 24 by 32.  The answer, like an unfamiliar dance move, will take time to come by, if at all.  It’s hard.

In contrast, System 1 is more likely to tackle 2 x 2, a familiar math sum, and it’s availability to be recalled is similar to how you quickly and easily you remember ‘Gangnam Style’.

The key to remembering your dance moves then, is to dance early and often.  The more you do it, the more you become used to it.  Soon it will consume you and all the various dance moves and techniques you learn will become embedded neural patterns in your brain. 

Do it enough and those patterns will be with you forever.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Video: Nicki Minaj and Cassie - The Boys

Nicki and Cassie show 'The Boys' how it's done, with a video that somehow manages to match the craziness of the track.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Video: S-Type - Billboard

I first heard this track as part of Rustie's now classic Essential Mix in April this year, which you can get right HERE.

It sounds huge and makes you want to win a gold medal so they can play it the background while you celebrate.  Turn it up, you'll love it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The BET awards were held last night, and amidst all the pushing and shoving that comes with putting some of Hip-Hop's 'hardest' crews in one room, there were some real highlights.

Every year the awards showcase Cyphers, and they're usually the highlight of the night.  Last night was no exception, especially the West Coast roundtable which featured legends (DJ Quik, Snoop, Xzibit) and up-and-comers (Kendrick Lamar).

There was also a tribute to Chris Lighty, the legendary Hip-Hop entrepreneur, who was instrumental in the careers of some many classic 90's acts.  Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, A Tribe Called Called Quest, LL Cool J and others were on hands to lay it down in respect.

West Coast Cypher


Chris Lighty Tribute


East Coast Cypher - 'Iron Fist'


Kendrick Lamar - The Recipe


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stream: Pusha T feat. Future

Pusha T, formerly of The Clipse and now a member of Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music crew, has a new single from his forthcoming album.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review: Robyn @ Parklife 2012

"Can you sing one of her songs?"  Not having been acquainted with the Swedish songstress, our friend was hoping for a preview of what he could expect.  A few terrible bars of 'Dancing on my own' later, and I was quite surprised he decided to say.  I dare say he was glad he did.

Robyn was supposed to be here a couple years ago, hot on the heels of her triumverate of stellar pop albums Body Talk 1,2 and 3, but she didn't make the trip.  She was determined to make it up to us.  "I hope you've forgiven me Adelaide!"  I think it's safe to say we had.

She walked out to the strains of 'Dont f***ing tell me what to do', put the crowd on alert as to what to expect - in-your-face pop music, no bullshit.

She launched into 'Dancing on my own' early on, and it was clear that she was doing her own thing.  Whilst most people may have been worried that playing your most popular song so early in your set would be a disastrous move, it instead set the tone for the show and Robyn made sure we were locked in from there on out.

The song has a propulsive 4/4 beat that is prevalent in all the best Robyn tracks, and instead of coasting on the songs mammoth sound, Robyn rides it like a bucking bronco.  She brings a physicality to her stage show, whether it's through slyly choreographed hand movements or shadow-boxing the crowd with the intensity of Mike Tyson.

'Be mine' rocketed out of the gate, so much so that we were still recovering from the last track when it started, and the by the time the breakdown arrived after the second chorus, Robyn was on her knees, leaning back to the floor like the scarf she coveted in the song was actually still a issue for her!

Every song seemed to be a mission statement in itself, and Robyn imbued tracks like 'Kobra Style' and 'Fembot' with more chutzpah than I would have thought they deserved.  I was happily wrong.

By the time she encored with 'With Every Heartbeat', she hadn't so much won the crowd as slapped us in the face and forced us to comply with her code of honour - dance with emotion.  You're welcome back any time Robyn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Video: Solange - Losing You

Full disclosure, Solange is Beyonce's younger sister.  It's tempting to paint a picture where nepotism was the sole reason for Solange's career, and there may be a little truth to that, however I think the world is a better place with Solange in it, so nuts to the haters.

She's been bubbling around the fringes of Pop and R&B for a while now, releasing great but under-appreciated tracks like 'Sandcastle Disco'.

That should change with the release of 'Losing you'.  The track is produced by Dev Hynes aka Lightspeed Champion and combines a slower-than-expected beat with a mournful synth to great effect.

This appears to be a new direction for R&B and Pop, a track that is simultaneously large and yet intimate. It's an effect that 80's artists seemed to pull out with outstanding regularity, but has been largely ignored in recent RnB and Pop music in favour of balls-to-the-wall synth tracks and four-four beats.

Solange's voice is cavernous, and yet it's still ethereal and reverberates around the track like it's an empty concert hall.

Lets hope she starts a new revolution.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stream: Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr Dre - Compton

I've mentioned Kendrick Lamar a few times now.  After releasing his stellar debut album last year called Section 80, Dr Dre swooped in and pulled Lamar under the Aftermath umbrella.  His first album on that label is Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City and will be released shortly.

A couple of tracks have already surfaced from this album ('The Recipe' and 'Swimming Pools'), and they, along with this track, suggest a more expansive soundscape over which Kendrick can spit his rapid-fire flow.