Yes, yes, I know it’s been a minute. Over the last two weeks the J-O-B has been pure, unfiltered drama with a little Villanova (was able to catch the Providence home game last Saturday as well as the unforeseen home loss to UConn last Monday evening) fun thrown into the mix for good measure. Needless to say, I’ve had next to no time to sit my ass down in front of the PC or Laptop for more than a few minutes at a clip. Yet, on the same token I’ve been able to catch up on more than a fair share of good music, and what’s even stranger is that I’ve really taken a strong liking to the more electronic/futuristic side of Hip Hop, artists such as Afta-1, Take, The Clonious and even to a certain extent the new Erik L & Illingsworth LP, takes the production of the LabTechs and pushes the envelope even furter. I must say, the Sene-assisted “Time Kills” which appears on “Northern Connection” is probably my favorite track nearly three months in to 2010.
“The Stimulus Package”-Freeway & Jake One
Lemme’ just say this: it’s not as if Philly ever left, but Freeway and Jake One’s “The Stimulus Package” just pushed Philly to the forefront of Hip Hop as this album is hands-down the best piece of material that I’ve experienced this year. Again, you see how the simplistic formula of one emcee and one DJ works wonders, right? Freeway, whom I’m not quite sure if he topped the lyrical performance displayed on his debut “Philadelphia Freeway” (man, that album was ALL cats played while deployed in Iraq, as well as Young Gunz’ debut), does his best on the “Stimulus Package” to make you all but forget his 2009 mishap, “Philadelphia Freeway 2″. Free’s often-deemed “annoying” voice is unnoticeable on this extremely well crafted collaborative effort that pairs East Coast lyricism with one of the best producers from the West, Jake One.
From the opening moments of the Beanie Sigel-assisted “Stimulus Intro” (damn, that was a good look to get Beans on the track) to the album’s finale “Free People” this sh*t…well…I could have done without the lyrical musings (insert sarcasm) of one Birdman on “Follow My Moves”, but aside from that obvious misstep, “The Stimulus Package” is the first album that I laid down some hard-earned loot for this year. It was a damn good feeling to go back home to PA last week and bump “The Stimulus Package”, knowing that Free is holding the Keystone State down. Rhymesayers for the win!
Now, let’s get into this phase I’ve been going through over the last few weeks. Since listening to Erik L & Illingsworth’s “Northern Connection”, namely the aforementioned “Time Kills” (f. Sene), that same type of electronica/bass-heavy yet still undoubtedly Hip Hop production has been scratching my itch.
I can recall *ahem* downloading The Clonious’ “Connect The Dots” LP sometime this past fall and while the “Funked Up” version of the Muhsinah-blessed “One At A Time” appeared on the album it doesn’t light a match it’s predecessor, the original version which appeared on the “Adroit Adventures” EP (released on Ubiquity in June). Somewhere between the past and the distant future, sparked by dusty old jazz records and beat generation hip hop, at the audio cross-roads of Detroit and Vienna, lies a series of sound stories steeping in the head of 23 year old beat navigator Paul Movahedi, also known as The Clonious. The “Adroit Adventures” EP is the first of those tales to exit his dome and hit wax. The EP includes a version of Fogged Spacesuit, available only on this release, and an exclusive Dorian Concept remix of Emora. This EP was well worth the 4 bones I dropped for it on Itunes.
Next up on this instrumental expedition is Take with the 2008 release as his alter-ego “The Dirty Decibels Of Thomas Two Thousand”. Drawing obvious inspiration from none other than J. Dilla, Take composes a damn fine re-working of the SV classic “Fall In Love” with his take (pun intended) “Fall In Love Again”, which serves as a perfect track to bump as we celebrate the life of one of the greatest producers of our era, on the anniversary of his untimely passing. Take re-visits the working of James Yancey once again with “Lie-Twerx” a play on “Lightworks” from Dilla’s instrumental opus “Donuts”.
Take gets even heavier on the beats, vocals and sampling and strikes a less serious tone with his “Thomas 2000″ alter-ego on this effort as opposed to his 2006 effort, “Earthtones and Concrete”. “The Dirty Decibels of Thomas Two Thousand” is a laid back, yet extremely n0d-worthy album. He has one of the liveliest sounds in new left-field hiphop and experimental beats. Whether it’s the sound of his album “Earthtones & Concrete”, cohesive and composed, or in the more lighthearted manner of this Thomas 2000, his music always seems to come together in the most natural way, very similar to that of Flying Lotus.
Okay, this is the last one…I promise, then we can get back to that ol’ boom-bap. The awesome Allcity 7″ series brought itself to a close with this brilliant installment from french beat maker Onra laying down two tracks of typically esoteric yet devastating club joints. Onra is probably best known for his instrumental travelogue “Chinioseries” for Favourite recordings, a masterful trip into the art of keen eared sampling with a heavy lean on South Asian and Vietnamese music.
Crafted for the A-side, ‘My Comet’ is a neat nugget of scuzzy instro grindbeats with a psychy wooze that has been shot through the best tracks from this series. But our favourite has to be ‘Shhhhhhh’ on the flip, craftily utilising the same sample as the first Thriller 12″ and almost acting as an another alternative edit to one of our favourite tracks of the year, by applying head swimming FX to a double dope and as yet unknown electro soul sample, saving some extra funked synth noodling for this version to make it worth your while. I have no idea what Allcity are up to next, but if it’s half as good as this series, I’ll be well on top of it.
I just knew that after seeing the “in-studio” video of Radix (Quite Nyce & SEEK) crafting the lead single “The Return” from their forthcoming LP along with one of the most in-demand producers in the game Statik Selektah, that this cut, even though we only heard bits and pieces of it in the video, would be a sure-fire smash! “The Return” is what I can only hope is just a small piece of the puzzle that we’ll find on Radix’ new effort, which was just announced, will be produced solely by Statik Selektah. Just as the cover-art denotes, “The Return” surely get a “thumbs up”. Also if you’re still sleepin’ by sure to peep Raydar Ellis and Quite Nyce’s “Champs vs. The League” which included on of the best tracks of 2009, “Build Up”.