music

08. NOVEMBER 2011

THE NEXTMEN PLAYING THE GAME

Unless you have fallen lifeless somewhere thru the cracks you’ve more than likely witnessed Cambridge come Londoners The Nextmen, also known as Brad Baloo and Dom Search, at one of their many sweaty styled-out club sets, festival-smashing performances or heard their incendiary mixtapes, some just days old and some many years since they were recorded, that are still filling the ears of the blissed out masses who just want to kick back or kick up with big boss tunes, not wipe the irony from their chins from the up-chuck of resoundingly vapid faux counter-culture buffoonery. All mouth poser twats with limited social agendas beware - The Nextmen are not the centre of cool for the next five minutes. Beloved the globe over by dedicated followers of music not dedicated followers of fashion? Yep. Loving of the good groove irrespective of genre but not of taste? Yep. The all day every day no-brainer block rocking choice? Natch.

This eclectic production duo continue to carve up shiny gems from London’s lovely low-end underbelly with albums, singles, mixes, remixes, podcasts, DJ sets and live shows, blending anything worth listening to from all electronic music styles. Making this connection between music they love be it dancehall, drum’n’bass, dubstep, reggae, roots, instrumental and actual hip hop, soul and soulful low-end boomp, funk & (UK) funky, indie, leftfield, ambient, pop and straight-up party jacking pleasers, is something Baloo and Search always strive to achieve, weaving their way on 4 turntables with mastery and abandon, all laced up with their own sought after mash-up edits, bootlegs and specials.

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The Nextmen in long-form and for those unversed, here’s a quick champion-style summary (shouts to Bill Brewster for the insightful extractions):

Dom (real name: Dominic Betmead) and Brad (real name: Brad Ellis) joined forces when Brad blagged a remix for London Posse and realised he didn’t have any kit with which to do it. In stepped Dom with his Roland S10 and not much else. “The track was called Style,” chips in Dom, “But it put us on the map. Everybody loved it. Radio 1 got hold of it.”“It was 75 bpm and really pedestrian,” deadpans Brad. “Fucking terrible.” Terrible or not, London Posse’s Style had something about it, not least the MCing skills of the posse’s Rodney P, with whom The Nextmen have subsequently enjoyed a long working relationship. In 2000, The Nextmen released their debut album Amongst The Madness on the revered 75 Ark imprint. Originally intended to be a Mo’ Wax-style instrumentals album, their label began sending the beats out to rappers in the States and before they knew it, The Nextmen were hip hop producers, working with Public Enemy, Blackalicious, The Pharcyde and Morcheeba.

Get Over It, 2003’s sophomore album for Scenario, confirmed their position as one of the UK’s brightest beatmakers. The changes in Nextmen direction over the years – if they could even be described as such – grew out of their DJ sets, as they found the space to integrate the outer reaches of their record collections. It was an organic change, but one that was driven by their outlook: “As a clubber, I want to go out and hear varied styles of music,” says Dom “I don’t want to hear one kind of music all night.” This shift in approach found an echo in the studio too, firstly with reggae compilation Blunted In The Backroom, which they completed for the label Antidote. This was a headlong plunge into the depths of the Trojan catalogue, but re-wired by the Nextmen for the now. It was so successful, Antidote commissioned their third studio album, This Was Supposed to be The Future which featured collaborations with Sway, Fat Freddy’s Drop vocalist Dallas, Zarif, Alice Russell, Dynamite MC, Chicago’s own Kidz In The Hall, Jamaican legends Niney The Observer and Demolition Man, and LSK from Faithless. Their fourth studio LP moved them to a major with ‘Join The Dots’ on Universal following on in 2009 and in typical Nextmen fashion the game was sonically upped to dizzying heights as ‘Join The Dots’ progressed like a paint by numbers prayer of affection through all the genres and styles loved by the pair and their fans alike. The album was born from their explosive and eclectic DJ sets, those being the focus of the duo's global critical acclaim over the last 12 years.

More studio records, a podcast series, a pop-up party tour and plenty more are to come in 2011, all set to mark a reflection and reaction to what The Nextmen have done and can do as DJs and fast forward follow ups to their back catalogue as producers. Get your ears open and ready.

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