DJ Mitsu The Beats : Celebration Of Jay

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For years Mitsu The Beats has been flying the flag for independent Hip Hop in his native country of Japan, making beautifully arranged instrumentals that are notoriously hard to cop on vinyl as he expands upon the jazz-laden loops Nujabes brought to prominence. This loving tribute to J Dilla marks the first time Mitsu has made his tunes available on an easy to buy platform like bandcamp, opening his music up to a wider audience outside of record collector circles and sample-hungry beat  junkies.

It’s Dilla’s essence that seems to provide the main inspiration as Mitsu evokes the chilled, uplifting feeling that radiated from Jay’s music; moving beyond the realms of the obvious by cutting back on the un-quantized kicks and heavy swing that would characterize a more overt tribute. Speaking on Dilla’s innovative Fantastic Volume 2 and Welcome To Detroit albums, Mitsu states; ‘I have never been influenced so much by music in my life, and probably never will be.’ This heavy respect can be felt throughout as his intention ‘to dedicate an album for him in order to reflect on my present self’ manifests in every essential track, making Celebration Of Jay one of the classier odes to the SV sample king.

Buy it here.

Peace.

 

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Statik Selektah : What Goes Around

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Since 2011’s Population Control established his distinct brand of boom bap, Bostonian producer Statik Selektah has been busy bringing together some of the game’s finest to bless his instrumentals. On What Goes Around the Pro Era tour DJ and Showoff Records founder continues that tradition, boasting an illustrious line-up of dream collabs spanning from NY street anthems with rap legends to weeded-out jazz flips led by the new generation. As the title cut sets things off with huge horn loops, Lil Fame and Ea$y Money pen heavy bars, while Joey Bada$$ shines on Carry On and stand-out anthem Slum Villain. The Thrill Is Back sees Statik layer crisp breaks under lounging piano lines for Styles P and Talib Kweli to exalt with eloquent flows; while Dilated Peoples get busy on Back For You‘s DJ Honda-inspired Golden Era bounce, and Ab Soul and Jon Connor pen killer features on the laidback funk of Alarm Clock.

Pro Era emcee’s CJ Fly and Nyck Caution drop fly rhymes alongside Black Dave and Josh Xantus over My Time’s mellow horns; then Statik uses his influential position to introduce Sincere’s gifted wordplay on Fugazi, loops crystalline sax notes over two different breaks to back Jon Connor and Ransom’s distinctive lyrical styles on The Chopper; and unites D Block, Organized Konfusion and Slaughterhouse on Down Like This. Killafornia veteran B Real slays on Overdose, penning one of the freshest rhymes on the album, before Boldy James gives you Something to Cry For, and Astro and Dessy Hinds flow fluid on Rise Above‘s melodic chops. Once this ill LP finalizes it’s all-out lyrical attack with a Bun B and Posdenous feature, it’s clear that integrity’s the name of the game for Statik Selektah; as he continues to drop genre-defining dopeness with every new release, keeping the realness in the forefront for 2014.

Buy it here.

Peace.

Stealf : Sling Me Down

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The man behind De Facto Entertainment and the instrumentals on the recent Raw Product banger Supplying The Demand has just dropped a fresh batch of home-cooked beats. A chilled, jazz-heavy release, Sling me Down finds Stealf putting in the hours on his MPC60 and S950, creating sounds that shift mood on each tune as he draws from a wide selection of sample sources. Brookyln’s Autumn begins with a catchy horn loop and swinging drums, Carbonated Daze breaks it down with dusted snares and mellow flutes, Lord Barrington‘s clean string chops dip between funky guitars, and the dynamic jazz flips on Palm Reading provide head-nods for days.

After the memorable vocal hooks of the title track dissolve into punchy kicks on stand-out track The Day Before, Stealf switches it up once again on the stop-start styles of Trans-Atlantic Cousins, then rounds out this concise release by getting loose with the snare hits on the rugged low-end bounce of Wax Works. Both a fitting intro to the De Facto sound and an exciting taste of what’s to come, Sling Me Down marks off another solid release for the ever-expanding UK label as they push their creativity while staying rooted in the Golden Era sound.

Grab your free copy here.

Peace.

J Rawls : The Legacy

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J Rawls should need no introduction. As the producer behind the dusted loops on the Beastie’s Schadrach remix, the syrupy sounds on Black Star’s Brown Skin Lady, Lone Catalyst’s classic piano piece Due Process, and the Asheru and Blue Black collab Dear You, he’s crafted some of the underground’s most beloved tunes during his two decades in the game. With this final album as an artist, Rawls humbly steps back from the boards to produce only one of The Legacy‘s thirteen tracks; leaving the beats in the capable hands of Kev Brown, Mighty DR, Rashad, and more as he shares the mic with Oddisee, Masta Ace and Blueprint.

Barb Fant’s resonant metaphors begin the record on a poetic note, leading into the upbeat grooves on My People as Rawls pens a sagacious overview of the game atop a sample flip that Badu and Dilla fans will recognize; Speak from experience, I ain’t here to preach, the culture’s for entertainment, but it can still be used to teach. Bombeardo’s uplifting instrumental for Bills sets swinging soul chops in motion for Rawls and Masta Ace to bless with quality rhymes befitting their veteran status; while the title track finds J reminiscing on his career over a catchy melody from Lakim, joined by Scienz Of Life emcee John Robinson, and Ceezar; who’s stand-out verse flows powerful like Big L and Dessy Hinds combined.

Lootpack’s Crate Diggin’ gets a contemporary counterpart as Keisha Soleil’s sweet melodies adorn the digger’s anthem Pure Love; with Rawls offering an ode to the sore knees and dusty fingers that have driven his production career. ‘Diggin’ is an art, do the knowledge, you can win it, cuz it ain’t Hip Hop if it ain’t no sample in it.’ Rashad’s sun-baked sounds make Rio a memorable single, as Rawls rhymes in double time before easing back into a mid-paced cadence on One Time. 

Southside harks back to the first time J saw the ASR10, Kev Brown’s dope piano loop on Mr Cool makes for another infectious tune, and Rob Riley keeps the cool jazz lingering in the air on Nonstop.  With an appreciation for everyone he’s worked with along the way, The Rest Of My Life comes straight from the heart; Illa J’s feature deserves props as he switches his usual laidback flows for soulful melodies, singing his ass off to provide a memorable hook; and as JG The Juggernaut ruminates over a Common sample on Omega, this final chapter of J Rawl’s solo career is as solid as swansongs come.

Buy it here.

4/5

Peace.