cross-posted to Mudd Up!


Notable instruments: Oberheim DMX, Drum machine, Electronic keyboard, Sequencer


10 years ago I was driving through Boston listening to one of the reggae mix shows on WERS (i think). A riddim came on which nearly made me stop the car. It was Steely & Clevie’s Street Sweeper. A strident minimal percussion pattern, little fragments of guitar washing in & out. A string flourish there, a whistle sound here, a vocal snippet. I’d been following dancehall for awhile and was used to surprises, but Street Sweeper floored me. As a DJ, producer, and listener.


[Wycliffe ‘Steely’ Johnson]

It was possibility and emphatic silence as much as it was a song. To clarify: Steely and Clevie built the Street Sweeper riddim, which a few dozen vocalists transformed into songs, riffing on the beat’s undeniable power to deliver some top-notch chatting. Here’s a youtube medley of the popular versions:

Wycliffe ‘Steely’ Johnson passed away in New York City & the world is poorer without him. Street Sweeper cracked things open for me; they had countless other hits but it was these moments of skullcrushing genius economy that made this riddim one of my all-time favorite pieces of music.


3 responses to “STREET SWEEPER”

  1. […] 08:07 am 2. September 2009 | 0 Permalink | Antwort via […]

  2. Matt Shadetek says:

    very sad to hear this, street sweeper was a big deal for me too. I still keep it in my 7″ box when I go out to play.

  3. D.WattsRiot says:

    Just found ‘Drum Pan Sound’ while looking for weapons for tonight’s session. With dat and their ‘No, No, No’, I’m sorted.