In this section of his new book, Brar explores the hidden depths of the Babyfather's 2016 album, BBF Hosted By DJ Escrow.
One of the easiest things to say about Dean Blunt is that his music lacks seriousness. In fact, one of the most common laudatory assessments his work is given is that it is a labyrinthine orchestration of the absence of seriousness delivered with a veneer of solemnity. Blunt is considered something of a performance art prankster, skilled in using the most affectless deadpan to build layer after layer of in-jokes, nods, winks and sly asides. This is thought to be the cause of the compulsion-repulsion effect that surrounds him. The latter view is based on the notion that his schtick is nothing more than an elaborate method of accumulating social and cultural capital which, at best, exposes the corrupting effects of the contemporary conjoining of art and experimental music. The former favours Blunt precisely for his exposure of the flows of capital within arenas which purport to support and generate aesthetic (as well as social) radicalism.
Early on in the development of such a hermeneutic, Kodwo Eshun signalled that, perhaps, there might be a rush to judgment on both sides. His 2011 review of a set of Hype Williams releases gives conceptual purchase to a guiding imperative of their sound. What he calls Hype Williams' "insistent inappropriateness" shapes the way in which on albums such as One Nation (2011) and Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Gettin' Reel (2010), they use Wiley lyrics as titles for tracks which never go close to the soundworld of Grime, whilst also covering Sade and George Michael, without fully arriving at the original song. Populated with evasions of this type, as well as accumulated clouds of sound which skirt the edges of identifiable styles, Eshun hears in their work "moments of inspired incongruity." The key to his review though lies in the way Eshun is able to transfer an assessment of the internal form and content of a Hype Williams record, into an account of the inappropriateness that imbued their outward facing dynamics:
What if the often remarked upon knowingness of the duo was designed to protect the right to fabricate songs that didn't know where they were going? One reason why people love, hate and love to hate Hype Williams is that their disinterest in digital professionalism translates into a refusal to grow up and treat music as a serious profession for serious people. The duo's attitude remains one of allusive insolence, insistent infantilism and sustained self-absorption, nurtured by an exorbitant sense of entitlement.... The heteronyms, the fake back stories, the aggravating YouTube video loops, the misleading song titles, the obstinate, obstreperous, obnoxious attitude: all of it seems to operate as a series of in-jokes designed to project a forcefield of irritation capable of deflecting the attention of anyone naive enough to enquire as to its purpose. (Eshun, 2011)