If Jack Kerouac were still around and dug hip-hop, he'd be on the road with DJ Vadim. The Russian-born, British-based mixmaster Vadim Peare is definitely-to borrow Kerouacian phraseology-"on the bus."
"When I read these biographies of famous bands-like David Bowie and the Rolling Stones-they used to do huge tours of America, like 90 cities, 100 cities, 120 cities," says Vadim, who is set to invade the U.S. on a tour with poetess Yarah Bravo and former DMC champion DJ First Rate.
"But I guess since we now have music television and the power of radio, advertising and marketing, no one does big tours anymore. People don't feel the need to, 'cause why bother? You can sit in the studio and make a video for $5 million and watch the money roll in."
The road keeps Vadim from settling into one particular scene, giving his minimalist hip-hop an ever-shifting, international palette. He sees kids creating DJ mixes all over the world, adding their own spin to the hip-hop juggernaut.
"[Hip-hop's] been pretty international for quite a long time," explains Vadim, who moved to the United Kingdom in 1979 after spending his formative years in St. Petersburg. "I guess in the spirit of "true hip-hop,' for lack of a better word, is the idea that you can just get down and do it. You don't need to be an expert on the guitar or you don't need musical schooling, which you have in other music forms. But hip-hop is kind of a do-it-yourself, get-out-there-and-do-it mentality."
Vadim is touring in support of 2002's U.S.S.R.: The Art of Listening (Ninja Tune Records), which features MCs like Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Slug (Atmosphere), Motion Man (Masters Of Illusion), Vakill and Phi Life Cypher (Gorillaz). The album-his third full-length release-floats ethereal and thumps an undercurrent of bassy backbone. Hip-hop anchors the whole artistic mass of beats, blips and bunches of bad-ass bomb tracks.
Studio wizadry is fine, says Vadim, but as a musician and a person, he'd rather be on the road.
"Most people [aren't] really into traveling. Who wants to go to a country where they don't speak your language and you can't eat McDonald's as much as you can at home?
"For me, it's different. It's important for me to get out and about, travel, meet people and do shows everywhere."