Music is the melody whose text is the world. [Arthur Schopenhauer]
All art is arbitrary. [Karlheinz Stockhausen]
It’s galling to me to think that Freddy Fresh is the same age as I am and yet has achieved more in terms of musical innovation than most of us have ever dreamed of. Like me, he is an expat: unlike me, he started his working career as a pizza delivery man. Born in Minneapolis in 1963, he relocated to the UK after being introduced to the hip-hop scene by his Puerto-Rican girlfriend (now his wife and mother of his three children). He has performed with the likes of Metallica (!), and some of you may remember his chart hit in England with Fatboy Slim, ‘Badda Badda Schwing’: however, he had already piqued the interest of John Peel to the extent that two mixes were included in the honour roll that has become the Peel sessions. Listening to Fresh’s eclectic mixes does for the listener what all good mixes should do: you embark on an aural journey where elements of the past lietter your path like so many found jewels, all underlain with a driving beat that seems to roll time into a blanket of euphoria.
These samples are drawn from his massive collection of vinyl (hence the title of his CD Have Records Will Travel), but are only the building blocks of his soundscapes. If this all sounds too journo for you, try listening to the two items I have included for your pleasure today. I couldn’t find the first session from 1999, a live mix from Maida Vale 4, so try the 2003 mix and then see how many superlatives roll from the tongue. Once you start listening (in the right frame of mind) you just cannot stop, and in this recording, it seems Fresh found himself unable to.
Freddy Fresh, Peel Session 2003-11-20
He had but one Festive Fifty entry, You Can See The Paint (FF 2003 #49), an innovative, teasing miniature built around a sample of a woman’s voice, which, whatever you think of the man’s music in general, must be admired for its, well, freshness and referential breakbeat style. Since then, Freddy has returned to his alma mater by publishing two editions of an exhaustive tome, The Rap Records, and starting a new label for ‘conscientious rap’, Stark Raving Records. Looks like there ain’t no stopping this.
Freddy Fresh, You Can See The Paint