I can first recall hearing John Robinson’s unforgettable voice and delivery via his collaborative project with Carlos Nino (who’s also been making quite a name for himself recently with the “Suite For Ma Dukes” Orchestra), “What’s The Science” back in the ending summer months of 2008. Fast forward to 2009 and I soon found myself leafing through the .99 bin at the local Hastings and copping Robinson’s group efforts as a member of Scienz of Life. Most recently, you’ll find Robinson along with Kenn Starr murdering Apollo Brown’s “Balance”, from Brown’s “The Reset”. Also, Robinson completed an album with MF Doom “Who’s The Man?”, an album that was recorded in 2004, yet really did see the light of day until nearly 4 years later. Now, in 2010, it’s safe to say that Robinson has ventured “back to basics” with the bare-bones production of the U.K.’s Lewis Parker.
Most notably producing for the likes of Ghostface Killah, with “Shakey Dog” being Parker’s lone contribution to Ghost’s “Fishscale” album, and “Outta’ Town Shit” making an appearance on “More Fish”, it’s safe to say that Parker is an overlooked producer in the grand scheme of things. With “International Summers”, Parker’s vibe is pure grit, heavily reliant on the SP1200 drum machine. Boasting a hefty jazz vibe, Parker’s production found on “International Summers” is pure feel good music, with an added pinch of deft drum kicks that keep your head constantly nodding. The music that fuels the album has somewhat of a vintage feel to it, yet Parker brings it up to date with melodic loops and cleverly placed samples which definitely keeps it original. For a prime example of what I’m referring to, peep the album’s title cut, which seems to suit Robinson’s hoarse delivery just fine as he flows effortlessly on a cut that serves as the perfect summer anthem. Other standout beats from Parker include “Enter The Cosmos” and “Dangerous Love Affair”, which serve as the album’s two final cuts, proving that Parker and Robinson saved some of their best work for last on this solid collaboration.
Robinson sticks to his guns with vivid storytelling, minus all the usual cusses and gangsterism. His performance on “International Summers” fills a temporary void of the “warm” feeling that good “summer” albums usually encapsulate . Yet another one producer/one emcee album that works, I’m tellin’ you people, it’s that simple. The term/phrase “took me back to the Golden Era” is now very cliche and overused, but out of most of the albums that I’ve heard this year, this album accomplishes that feat most effortlessly and effectively. While the album is not without it’s faults, “Planes, Trains, Automobiles” was waay too long for this blogger’s taste, even though StaHHr does one helluva’ Bahamadia knock-off, it also features Parker’s weakest production on the album. Still, that’s the only real flaw that I had truly dig for.
Two cats, from opposite ends of the world, brought together by a label, have combined to create an album that will unfairly go largely unnoticed this year. There is no big “feature” on the LP, and no sure-fire radio smash, but this album is pure Hip-Hop. Raw, gritty, jazzy, it may be sad but true: “International Summers” would have been a classic had it been released between ’93-’96, but true Hip-Hop heads are gonna’ love this album in the present day!! Trust me….