Sincerely, Mando : Que Sera, Sera.

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I don’t know much about Rancho Cordova; but I’m guessing there’s some pretty smooth scenery out in that part of California. Especially if those were the vistas Armando Ruiz was taking inspiration from when he assembled his latest beat tape; Que Sera, Sera. The whole tape is top to bottom hip hop easy listening, with smoked out snares, jazzy hits and mellow melodies to lift your mood and make the tape a cleansing listening experience that’s as refreshingly optimistic as it is lazily relaxed.

Using Reason, Ableton and Akai’s iconic MPC2000xl to assemble his aural landscapes, the man known as Sincerely, Mando has created a beat tape that encompasses his own sound creatively, but leaves room for experimentation. Twenty Seven tracks float by in no time and will quickly have you reaching for that replay button and another puff on the devils lettuce. He retains focus by reigning in the repetition of phrases within the short song structure, and works simply and effectively to give each track it’s own identity within the larger soundscape; leaving space for the listener to drift off into, and keeping his sounds calm enough so you can either zone out, or pay full attention, and still feel fulfilled. Horns and vocal lines echo over punchy drums providing a soothing mood, nearly every rap line sampled is instantly recognisable if you’ve been following the culture for a while, and the vocals are incorporated subtly enough to compliment the track without drawing focus from the melody.

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Be There begins the tape strongly with an upbeat break, from the off the tape exudes a warmth as if the melodies come freshly soaked in the coast’s sun rays. Unorganized roughens up the serene scene somewhat with some Large Pro-style horns rockin over Nas & Meth quotes. Summthin Luvly is just that; Loose drums, echoing brass and string loops unwind slowly over the minute or so the track lasts, slowly dissolving into the more dissonant pan-pipe-funk of Summernights-Alchydays, before the vibe sombrely slides back into a golden era, jazz-laced bump on Overcast Loops; another highlight that will have older heads reminiscing back to the days when simple hittin’ beats had MCs clamouring for the mic. The disjointed melodies on No Thrills balance a minor bassline with major horn accompaniments to create a dizzying, ambient groove that settles in and then abruptly morphs into a dope summertime jingle on Neva Evas boom bap break. Despite it’s depressingly narcissistic moniker, Selfloathing is one of the tape’s most optimistic songs; and the repetition of the vocal line over the gentle ambient sounds, simple drum programming and warm textures create one of Mando’s best beats. 

Mornings Noons Sambas captures the producers sound perfectly; cleverly placed samples, simple melody and effortless cool, unrestricted by his imagination, and allowed to reach whichever musical conclusion the song ends up at without contrivance. Early Merlot strips down some chopped and screwed vocals to bare bones that knock hard along with the strong rhythm section. On songs like Gota Go Away he straight-up slams out rap beats that leave you grasping for a pen and pad; then displays his diversity on more lackadaisical bong-baiting numbers like What Can It Be, as the song’s ill Raekwon loops and chilled trumpet arrangements make it my favourite beat on the album. He closes the album as strongly as he opens it; Starch is dope and could as easily be used by any MC in the 90’s hip hop scene as it could by any of the current crop. Nspiteofmyself penultimately ends the tape on an upbeat with some cool drum programming that sounds like it’s straining to cling to the track to stop itself falling out of time, before finally the outro carries the tape home on Ice Cube’s easily distinguishable dulcet tones.

There’s always a barrage of new music coming over the internet to anyone willing to seek it; and with that constant flow comes producer after producer trying to get their beats heard; Sincerely, Mando is one of the many that deserve attention. His audible  journey through his sampler is a carefree and calm vibe inspired by his surroundings; and as long as he continues to make music from the heart and provide a laid back soundtrack for heads to chill to; every new batch of beats he cooks up is guna be as enjoyable as the last.

Buy the tape at his bandcamp and stay updated his new projects @sincerely_mando.

3/5.

Peace.

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Damu The Fudgemunk: Spur Momento Trailer.

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Damu was a Sumerian God that brought vegetation, healing and abundance to the people of ancient Mespotamia. Damu The Fudgemunk is a God from Washington, DC. who brings ill beats for Y Society, cuts and scratches for Panacea and solo beat tapes to the people of Hip Hop. He also co-owns and runs Redefinition records, and releases albums by a roster of artists digitally, on vinyl, and sometimes on cassette.

This latest beat tape from Redefinition captures the sound of one man creating soundscapes on an MPC 2000 with flair and creativity. Most new ‘producer’ albums these days are all put together using timecoded vinyl, digital audio workstations and wav files downloaded from itunes. Damu keeps it traditional with sound and method, digging for breaks and loops to add to his huge record collection, flipping those samples into thick, layered compositions that are experimental yet classically rooted, then recording all his stuff on to floppy disks through the Akai. It’s really an album you need to sit down with headphones on and just appreciate; if you’re a Hip Hop producer, turntablist or gear hound, it’s nerd heaven. For the casual listener, it’s something relaxing, elevating and beautiful to chill out to that bumps along hard at the same time.

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Over Seven tracks Damu takes you through a musical journey, guided by speech samples for narration as he effortlessly blends organic and digital sounds through a funky, old school, boom bap filter. Redef Mission Statement lets you know whats up from the get-go. They Who Flock is so catchy and well constructed it should be used for all xmas jingles this year so the ‘sheep’ from the hook can join hands and sing it gleefully unaware that they’re dissin’ themselves, it’s one of the strongest openers I’ve heard in a while.

Damu’s strength is in his understatement; as the waves of sound build to crescendos and then descend again nothing is rushed or overwhelming. He has a knack for introducing each new element with exact timing; the oft-used masquerade sample that B.I.G popularised made me laugh out loud when it came in it was so well-placed and refreshing after some of the gaudy use it’s been subjected to over the years.

Assembly Line has this indie feel that’s reminiscent of French electro outfit Air. It’s catchy enough, and is a good audible example of the amalgamation of old and new. The drums especially are crisp, clear and funky and add a focal point to this slightly meandering track. Fades Em Gone (Organ Grinder) kicks in with it’s low bass buzz coarsing beneath high electronic beeps and organ loops. It’s a great piece of nostalgic, jazzy electronica that benefits from an updated Hip Hop beat. The last few minutes are really noteworthy, as the rugged drive of the original rhythm exchanges it’s heavy handed bombastic approach to a cooler, church bell melody that teases a drum break then fades as quickly as it came.

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The Discs used in assembling Spur Momento Trailer.

The second half begins with Blizzard tearing up the speaker as whirls of woodwind and strings swoop around digital blips and a rolling drum break. Three and a half minutes isn’t long enough; even though it took a few listens, it’s quickly becoming a stand out track overall and a real highlight on a short album full of highlights. Damu takes it Old School on Trenchcoat, Fedora & Briefcase with a 90’s beat updated for the now; complete with note stabs, a distinctive Eastcoast feel, subtle violins and some eerie female choral lines that are all dying for an MC like Jeru or G Rap to lay waste to. Things close with the mellow tones of Meadows, scratches glide along subtly underneath the surface, the melodies twinkle as if passing on the breeze, the whole track feels like such a throwback you can almost see the baggy Fila jumpsuits through the bassline. Labels like Redefinition are reigniting the golden era and bringing musical composition back to the forefront of modern American Hip Hop. If you never go without owning at least one copy of Illmatic & can finish the line ‘On the amen, corner I stood…’ then this new album from one of instrumental Hip Hop’s most dedicated, talented and righteous rising stars needs to be in your collection today.

Cop the double vinyl here.  

 Download the digital here.

4/5.

Peace.

Everything You need To Get Into Lewis Parker.

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The man’s a don. He’s one of the best producers around and has been for years, everything he samples is clean as hell, his rhymes are tight and without even trying he embodies underground Hip Hop; the look, the style, the work ethic, the dedication to the craft, it’s all there in buckets. He’s been a part of Champions Of Nature with Jehst, produced for some of the biggest name MC’s in the UK and internationally, and his beats are ubiquitous within the mixtape circuit. Parker’s been releasing classic solo albums since the 90’s and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, after relocating to New York in 2003, he’s continued smashing it. Releasing singles, EP’s and full lengths on his World Of Dusty Vinyl Label, working with UK Hip Hop store KingUnderground Records to distribute some of his newer releases, and when he’s not recording,  getting down live on the SP with his B-Boy style like this.

 Seein as I can hardly stop listening to the man for long enough to write a post about anything else; here’s a bunch of his illest songs in one handy chronological  bundle, packed with more links than a sausage shop.

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1998’s Masquerades & Silhouettes is a classic. Eight tracks of dopeness that sounds well ahead of it’s time, especially now with the current revival of US artists revisiting the boom bap sound. Seven of these tracks would be the lead single on anyone else’s debut, and even though the imprint it was released on is a subsidiary of a major label, it’s packed with rawness. The guys knack for crafting excellent beats that sound full and layered without being unnecessarily cluttered is beyond. Crusades is epic. His rapping his over-pronounced and heavily stylised. Throughout the EP he bounces this style off a more straight-laced delivery to interesting effect, and covers kilometres of subject matter from fantasy and sci fi to his more immediate surroundings. Eyes Of Dreams is flat out one of the best instrumentals going, it was brought back to prominence recently by Hardknock on the 1999 tape Joey Bada$$ put out last year, and as the first part of a Two track attack at the albums zenith that 101 pianos completes, it’s undeniable. You need this album in your life.

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In 2002 It’s All Happening Now ramped up the levels once again. Over Twenty Three tracks Parker touched on every aspect of his life, and knocked out countless quintessential examples of his sound. Incognito was an easy choice for the first single, demonstrating how talented this man is at putting together intricate beats that are easy on the ear, then lacing those rhythms with stylish phrases to form well written songs. An instant UK classic that started the album strong.

All I really know is life ain’t about the money”. 

As easily as he makes upbeat dopeness he switches to chilled and downright beautiful on tracks like Sunny Dedications with Profound; then moves on to dusky, nebulous numbers like Communications. Eleven years on Jehst’s “watching the world through microsoft windows” is even more poignant than it was then; with our ever increasing reliance on technology for social interaction. Parker’s verse is brimming with quotables;  “Become one with the air instead of one with the computer, but the digital monster inevitably controls our future”, and his instrumental is archetypal of the soulful jazzy rawness he pioneered. The song sounds like the grey skies it was created under, it conjures mental images of black cabs and forlorn men in suits dodging puddles in a downpour; for me it’s a fitting aural representation of Britain. Closing cut No Escape shows Parker, Klashnekoff and Skriblah on high form, the Terra Firma guest features among some of the album’s best.

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A year later, the 12″ Mr Parker’s Siesta followed up on the success of It’s All Happening Now. Then for Eight years Parker’s musical siesta saw him taking a small break from his solo stuff; but still find time to release the odd single, albums rammed with indispensable instrumentals, collaborations on albums with Secondson, John Robinson and Jehst, and produce for some of the biggest names in the game like Ghostface, Planet Asia and Smiff n Wessun.

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In 2011 he got back on the solo tip and released the first instalment of his new series; The Puzzle Episode One, The Big Game. Still spitting covert spy styles, musically he took a step further towards the cinematic sweeping scores he’d always been touching on with his SP compositions. It’s a dramatic listen, and was followed closely by some of his best workthe EP Dangerous Adventures. A short, saccharine slice of rhyme featuring 5 slamming songs, 5 funky instrumentals to play with, a more street sound than the first part of The Puzzle, and some top notch collabs thrown in fresh from the underground scene he easily ingratiated himself into abroad.

Six Feet Deep In Dirt & Dust ( a.k.a 1 Minute and 49 Seconds of pure Hip Hop joy ) is Lewis Parker’s body of work condensed like earth into diamonds. Even if you’re oblivious to the man’s legacy and you skipped the rest of the post just to come here ‘cuz you like the look of camo jackets; this should stand out as one of the illest things you’re ever likely to see on a Hip Hop blog in the coming two minutes.

The drum sound alone is untouchable, the videos cooler than cool hand luke sippin a cool cocktail, cooling off by the pool after installing a fridge freezer in an igloo; then Rodney P shows up just to remind you how much of a pioneer Parker is and his level of respect within the UK scene. Most MC’s dream of putting out EP’s this tight.

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In 2012, Shark balanced his orchestral bond movie themes with hard bass and drum loops that found his sound reaching equilibrium. Next he released Walking On A Razor, with even more high profile guest verses on another funky break, beginning the wind up to the release of The Puzzle: Episode 2 – The Glass Ceiling, an album that’s up there with his early work as some of his best. The beats are more varied than the last few releases, the track list packs in 30 examples of his underground golden sound, and it’s still espionage tactics lyrically. Singles like Hard Endeavour   serve to further seal the deal.

So now you know! Lewis Parker’s the man! He ‘takes the cakes from the bakery’ like Flipasaurus! and he’s still releasing quality music so keep an ear to the street so you don’t miss gems like TIC TAC TOE & Game Of CharadesIf you’re diggin his music as much as I am, buy his stuff digitally here, physically here , share this on FB, and tweet LP so he knows Hip Hop heads from his homeland are still showing him love!

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