- A spacey look at black dance music across the decades.
- Over the years, London's Josey Rebelle has built a reputation as a passionate club and radio selector. Her residency on Rinse FM exudes warmth, traipsing past sludgy reggae, cosmic jazz and soul-baring R&B, soft passages from which she often careens into harder sections of house and techno. While the word "slow" is typically used in interviews to describe her ascent, 2019 threw a wrench into her gradual approach. At the tail end of 2019, Rebelle's career reached a sudden turning point when her BBC Radio 1 mix won Essential Mix Of The Year. Months later, the Tottenham native has been made DJ Mag's February cover star, and last week she released Josey In Space, the latest instalment of the Beats In Space mix series. Intended to be listened to as a mix, it's a fascinating archive of black dance music, new and old, pillared by the work of black artists between the US and UK.
Much like Rebelle's previous mixes, the selections in this compilation span multiple decades and genres. Her first loves as a young DJ were hardcore and jungle, and she shows her appreciation for the roots of UK dance music with '90s cuts like Rum & Black's "Zombies At Dawn," one of Josey In Space's few obvious bangers. Rebelle follows with the minimalistic "Glitch Bitch," impressively pulling off a quick cool-down without throwing off the energy of the mix. Her uncanny ability to bridge the gap between the emotional and wistful to the strange and driving shines here.
So too does the extent of her collection. Rebelle may claim Tottenham as her stomping ground, but her range as a selector extends far beyond the UK circuit. Tracks journey through the wonky breakbeat of rRoxymore's "What's The Plan?," jazzy horns blare and percussion patters in Andrés'"Cafe Con Leche" and on "Bird Songs 4 Amelie," Hieroglyphic Being offers blissful Chicago house.
Interspersed with mechanical spoken word, the mix is also undergirded by a transportive Afrofuturism. At the opening, a voice bellows "I dream a lot of our old world/ I dream a lot of time," preparing us to ditch this reality for a familiar utopia. Poignant imagery leads "I Dream So Loud," as Tenesha The Wordsmith lays bare, "I dream so loud, my dreams reverberate in my womb/ My children are born, rejecting statistics." Somewhere between floating pads, we are informed in the outro that an escape module will depart in T-3 minutes.
In a 2017 Mixmag profile, a baffled Josey Rebelle questioned the lack of diversity in the electronic music industry. "This music was originally created by black people, and growing up a lot of the people around me doing music were black kids," she said. "What's happened where whole generations have not been able to get in and progress?" Josey In Space is an homage to those very generations, packaged in pure, spacey euphoria.
01. DJ Marcelle / Another Nice Mess – Dub (Dub)
02. rRoxymore – What’s The Plan
03. Tenesha The Wordsmith Feat. Daniel B. Summerhill – I Dream So Loud
04. Afrodeutsche – Phase Two
05. Fotomachine – BBoy
06. Brassfoot – Kingu’s Sceptre
07. Automation – Electricity
08. Hieroglyphic Being – Bird Songs 4 Amelie
09. Uschi Classen With Robert Owens – Only In Your Eyes (Nwachukwu Innervision 1)
10. Titonton Duvante – Avenues
11. Reggie Dokes – Piano Seduction
12. Nubian Mindz – Sunrise 777
13. Rum & Black – Zombies At Dawn
14. Loraine James – Glitch Bitch
15. Shy One – Route II Romeos
16. Access 58 - Jazz Drama
17. Andrés - Café Con Léché
18. Molinaro – Amber Beach
19. Rogue Unit – Dance Of The Sarooes (Nookie Remix)
20. Lex Amor – Praises