Music Video: The Hit Song by DJ Format
English decks-wizard Matt Ford, better known as DJ Format, has been extremely quiet of late. After attaining a sizeable, fanatical support base with the release of albums Music for the Mature B-Boy and If You Can’t Join ‘Em… Beat ‘Em in 2003 and 2005 respectively, all was silent on the Format front. So the announcement that there will be a new Format record this year was greeted with more than a little warmth by those of us who love listening to his work.
While most artists whose names are prefixed by ‘DJ’ tend to elicit a small groan from most people – largely due to the endless parade of hit singles produced by nameless DJs who infect the musical world with some hugely annoying, unoriginal track only to then disappear back into the ether never to be heard from again – Format is worthy of high praise. His first two full albums (as well as a host of remixes and other collaborations) show that the Brighton-born DJ is more interested in catchy beats and effusive samples than in coming up with a dull chart-topper.
His records are, first and foremost, fun to listen to: while the instrumental tracks bounce along with great beats and impressive mixing and scratching, Format’s frequent collaborations with rappers always yield enjoyable results. His usual partner in crime, Canadian rapper Abdominal, has a tireless, lung capacity-defying style, full of huge rhyme patterns and clever cultural references and jokes. Format’s also worked with Jurassic 5 and D-Sisive to great effect, but the best Format material is almost always produced in tandem with the Canadian rhymer.
‘The Hit Song’, taken from Music for the Mature B-Boy, is one such track. Overflowing with creativity – Abdominal setting himself three tasks, one per verse, then completing them with wit and unbelievable facility – and a genuine enthusiasm, it’s an infectious track which shows that hip-hop doesn’t always need to carry some deeper message or convey harsh truths. It can be fun, and Abs and Format are more than aware of it.
The video bears this free-spirited philosophy out. Set against a sepia backdrop, onto which everything from mocked-up boxing posters to lyrical snippets are emblazoned, Abdominal rips through three verses of speedy, clever rap while Format’s beats bring in everything from brass to vibraphone to create a funky platform for his partner’s indefatigable flow. The two are made for each other, sharing a musical and personal camaraderie uncommon amongst hip-hop creators. The final sequence of the video, wherein Format and Abs openly satirise the triter rap videos of recent times, is a perfect encapsulation of their style: it’s witty, it’s well thought-out and, most importantly, it’s fun.
Luke Grundy is a fervent assimilator of media living amid the bright lights of London, England. If he’s not watching films or listening to music, he’s probably asleep, eating or dead. An aspiring writer, journalist and musician, he is the creator of movie/music blog Odessa & Tucson and lives for epistemology.