So says the charismatic and thoughtful IG Culture, who has just created the genre-defying album ‘Turn It Up’ under his alter-ego New Sector Movements. His second album under the New Sector Movements moniker (now shortened to simply NSM), sees the ever-pioneering producer go back to his roots, and coming up with his most accessible music yet. It’s a piece of music where IG Culture (real name: “er… IG Culture, of course”) moves beyond the scenes in which he has developed, and reaching the perfect balance between sweet, soul music, and the tech-y broken edginess that has so far defined his career. As he excitedly puts it, “The next stage of NSM takes in all of my musical experiences, hones them into new and strong songs that tell where I am from, where I am at, and where I am going.”
‘Turn It Up’ is an album that has allowed IG to move on as a producer, while firmly acknowledging his black music roots. It’s a balance that has always been integral to IG Culture’s music, something born from growing up in the UK. “Everything that England has been soaking up over all these years, I am about. If it’s in the dance, then I am all over it. Be it the sound-clash to the sampled beat.” You can hear it on tracks like ‘Heat It Up’ – a ragged fusion of hip hop, soul and punk, that could only be born from London. Or the twisted soul of ‘Sho You Right’, which takes the blueprint of Philadelphia soul, and transforms it into something entirely fresh. A modern classic from the uniquely British school of eclecticism.
Like black musical luminaries before him, Shuggie Otis, Stevie Wonder or Herbie Hancock, IG Culture’s sound depends on taking the technology of the time and combining it with classic sensibilities. Nestled deep in his subterranean West London studio, packed with drum kits, unrecognisable pieces of studio kit and a beaten up piano, IG has always strived to push as many boundaries as possible. Be it in the nineties, under his Dodge City Production name, where he developed UK hip hop into a viable chart friendly form. Or when he first recorded as IG Culture for seminal labels like Main Squeeze or People, becoming the original pioneer of that unique fusion of jazz, soul, hip hop and general weirdness, that became known as the West London Sound or Broken Beats. Based around record shops like Honest Jons on Ladbroke Grove, record labels People and Goya and a handful of like-minded, experimental producers, a scene was born.
“I was the first out of the gate with the broken beat movement. It was me and a handful of other guys who defined that time. It wasn’t a planned thing. The whole thing was just an accident. But what a great accident it was!”
And while not exactly turning his back on the broken beat sound he helped to invent (the complex and choppy beat patterns that characterise the sound are still evident on tracks like ‘Trying Times’ and ‘Digital Age’), ‘Turn It Up’ sees him investigating other styles of music. “Well, I’m not content to stick to one genre, and you can hear that on this album more than anything else I have recorded. It’s just that ever since I was a kid, if there was a musical movement, I was involved. Be it the sound-system thing, or the electro thing, or the Hip Hop thing. I got into all aspects of dance music.”
So what has been the biggest influence on IG Culture then? “In terms of outlook on music, Saxon Sound [legendary South London based sound system] was very influential on me. Here were a bunch of guys from the UK who weren’t just copying the Jamaicans. They developed their own fast-chat style, which is something you hear throughout Hip Hop now-a-days. They were bringing their own UK thing to the sound system culture. As a result they ended up as the number one sound on the planet!”
His love of sound-system and reggae has led to ‘Big It Up’, a collaboration between IG and renowned Jamaican dancehall chanteuse Cecile. Based around a bumpy ragga riddim that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Greensleeves Rhythm album, Cecile lets loose with her trademark, tough style. The result is going to surprise people who thought they knew what New Sector Movements was all about jazzy noodle.
Club culture is still a massive influence on IG’s music. The fortnightly Co-Op, run with 4 Hero’s Dego, draws a fanatical crowd to a dimly lit basement for some Sunday evening worship. IG himself plays a raw and unique mix of ragga, hip hop and tough edged beats, most of which he has created himself. “It’s the number one club on the planet, from the number one king of the beats, as far as I’m concerned,” laughs IG. “I’ve always been into club culture. It all started when I used to go and check Tim Westwood, back before he was just Westwood, at the Hammersmith Palais.”
So there you have it: forget about everything you thought you knew about this artist, as NSM is back, revived for 2004. He’s not just created the most important black music album of the year, but perhaps the most important album of the year full stop. British soul music can breathe easy, as the self-proclaimed king of the beats is putting you back on the map.
Other Contributors on the NSM album
- Eska -- jazz and soul singer - plays around london...standout vocalist from the first NSM album and a mainstay core of IG's vocalist palette
- Cecile - known Jamaican dancehall performer ...appears on Sean Paul's album...
- Lain - a former member of the Soul II Soul collective
- Marcia -