DJ Said of Fatsouls brings a soulful house sensibility and Afrobeat background to his new monthly party
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SUPER EGO "Right now, as always, the city is so divided," said Said Adelekan, a.k.a. DJ Said, speaking to me over the phone from his studio in Eureka Valley, his husky Nigerian accent occasionally dissolving into self-effacing giggles. "There's so much emphasis on dubstep and techno. It's time for something uplifting, refreshing."
He's justifying his decision to launch a "soulful, deep, Afrobeat-inflected" new monthly — We & the Music starts Friday, April 2, at 222 Hyde — but for San Francisco nightlife aficionados and dance music fanatics, Said needs no reasons to finally step back into the regular club spotlight. Personally, I'm wigging the freak out about it. And that's a lot of wig.
For the past few years, Said and his Fatsouls  label have been quietly releasing some of the most intelligent, mature, and beautifully crafted deep house records available. In the early 2000s, his Atmosfere parties smoothly blended African-influenced beats into classic house and jazzy sounds, an energizing strategy that nimbly avoided the bland lounge quicksand that other "smooth" clubs of that era eagerly sank into. At his performances, he's often backed by live accompaniment: percussion, bass, guitar. That may be no rarity, but coupled with Said's vinyl skills, it's a charming gesture that instantly infuses his party proceedings with an old-school organic vibe.
But wait! Before any young'uns run screaming for the hills (did I lose you at "soulful"?), the mirror-balled zeitgeist is full-on ghosting at the mo' for a deep revival. Here are the clues. Minimal techno and micro-house started reversing their bleachy strip-down of lush beats several years ago, building back up to an Ibiza-thrilling exhalation of organic samples and actual chords without losing any of their throbbing drive, dub overtones, and clipped progressions. Fatsouls releases by Germany's Mr. Raoul K. ("Sun of Gao"), local whiz Stephen Rigmaiden ("Royal Deep"), and Said with much-loved producer Jerome Sydenham ("Long Story") — as well as upcoming beguilement "Cosmogony," by Japan's Hideo Kobayashi, to be released in April — seamlessly annex this trend while besting it with real soul experience.
Another clue: the recent UK Funky movement brought back African-derived two-step beats and tribal percussion with a dubby twist. Said does that too, but with explicit acknowledgment of his idol Fela Kuti. (Said grew up in Lagos and helped promote the Nigerian Afrobeat legend's club, Shine, in the 1980s.) And the disco revival has whetted a dance-floor taste for longer, more mutable tunes — the vogue is for squirmy, 10-minute tracks. Fatsouls slices are lengthy and jam-packed with enough lovely permutations to transport you into the sexy red-light zone. The signs read both ways, however: Said's 2007 "Bad Belle (Remix)," definitely among the top house releases of the last decade, is a slow-burning groove overlaid with a spoken-word ethno-ecological lament by Nigerian poet Ikwunga, and it presaged dub-techno's current, curious fixation on sampling slam poetry.
Deep quality has long been at the forefront of foreign scenes. "To be frank, there's a large global market for what I do," Said told me, and he's right. Berlin and Tokyo — heck, even Estonia — are thriving, soulful-wise. And Said's industry acumen (he earned a business-management degree from San Francisco State in order to run his label) and long-standing position as an Afro-house ambassador help him capitalize on that. A world tour is planned for later this year. "But here in the Bay Area it's still more of an underground thing."
Maybe that's the way we like it, although along with David Harness's Royalty monthly (fourth Fridays at Triple Crown, www.triplecrownsf.com ) and the Divinyl Echo crew's Oakland bashes (www.facebook.com/divinylecho ), We & the Music might just herald the dawning of a new deep age in Bay nightlife.
WE & THE MUSIC
With DJ Said, Capitol A, and Le Charm
First Fridays, 9 p.m., $7
222 Hyde, SF.