T.R.A.C. - The Network (produced by Marc Mac)BBE
Brooklyn based rapper T.R.A.C. demonstrates on “The Network” that he has lyrics in abundance and the beats to match, courtesy of Marc Mac. Like The Foreign Exchange did several years ago, TRAC and Marc Mac collaborated over the internet and “The Network” is an impressive result of two likeminded talents providing immediate satisfaction. Over fifteen tracks, T.R.A.C. effortlessly waxes poetic on the daily grind and the economic hardships that surround his environment. On “Step Rite On In” Marc Mac samples the 70’s Blue Magic classic over thick beats while T.R.A.C. leads us on a journey into his life and the code he lives by. ”Radio Heroes” is another banger that features the vocals of Baron aka Drue Davis. “Over My Shoulder” has a laidback groove with a jazzy bassline. On this tune, T.R.A.C. laments about struggling to stay on the right path without being drawn into temptation. “Somn’ For Your Ears” provides more bounce to the ounce and finds T.R.A.C. professing to commitment to the hip hop game. With a release as strong as this one, that’s good news for hip hop enthusiasts.
Reg Dancy, 06/11
Talc - Sit Down ThinkWah Wah 45s
2006 has been an amazing year for music and there has been no let-up on weekly releases since January. Trying to listen to everything is difficult due to time and if you play across the board it's hard to give each piece of music the attention it deserves. So after "Modern Sleepover", "Please Please Please Me" from the Wah Wah 45s compilation a few months ago and recently "Garden of Dance", I was ready for something special and believe me this is more than something special- it's going to be a masterpiece, if you've got your head screwed on properly. The lyrics are clever and some of the funniest you'll hear this year, certain to put a smile on your face, if not split your sides.. When was the last time you heard a band sing about being a carrot or a lobster and this is only the start. Todd Terje has been quoted saying "that he nearly wet his pants when he heard "Modern Sleepover": you've been warned.
Simon Harrison, 09/06
Talib Kweli - EardrumWarner Bros
What a journey it has been for Talib Kweli. Ever since he and Mos Def hit the scene as Black Star, followed by collaborating with Hi-Tek on Reflection Eternal, the expectations have been high. While there have been some shining moments (Quality) and some lackluster moments (The Beautiful Struggle), the feeling has been that Talib hasn't released his best yet. With "Eardrum" he may finally silence the critics. The first item that struck me about "Eardrum" was the number of songs. Twenty to be exact. Usually, when an hip-hop artist drops a cd with twenty plus songs, there are about seven to ten songs that could have easily been purged. However, I'm pleased to note that "Eardrum" is not only very enjoyable throughout but it's surely one of the best hip-hop cd's this year. The track "Country Cousins" displays Talib's affection for the south while holding his own on the southern delivery as well. The Will I.Am produced "Hot Thing" is a banger that should garner him plenty of airplay without alienating his core audience. The Pete Rock produced "Stay Around" finds Talib rapping about all the suggestions people have for him when they see him in the street (Talib, you should rap about this, you should rap about that, any more suggestions, yeah you in the back, you should rap on beat, you should rap more street). You can just imagine how often that happens. What happens often here is satisfaction from a disc seems to have a little something for everybody. Whether flirting with the ladies along with Kanye on "In The Mood" or asking the heavenly father to deliver him from temptation on "Hostile Gospel, Pt.2" (which I favor over Pt.1), the result is a consistent and focused effort. After months of delays, Talib delivers with arguably his best record to date.
Reg Dancy, 12/07
Tall Black Guy - 8 Miles To moenartFirst Word Records
Tasty hip hop beats and soulful samples have become synonymous with Detroit native Terrel Wallace aka Tall Black Guy”. “8 Miles to Moenart” is a tribute to his roots and of the lineage of the musical Detroit landscape that runs deep. That’s evident throughout this disc that features a touch of electro soul laced with hip hop and Jazz rhythms. Among the highlights are “The Dark Streets” an infectious down-tempo house track with a wicked beat. “There’s No more Soul” is a warm down-tempo soul gem that is complemented by the wordless phrasing of Diggs Duke. Ozay Moore’s lyrics on “Mon Amie De’ Troit” combined with the laidback hip-hop beat captures the spirit of a day in the life of Detroit. A bit disappointing that there’s eight tracks here but an otherwise superb disc that will keep your head nodding with each listen.
Reg Dancy, 06/13
Teeko and B Bravo present - Tempo Dreams 2Bastard Jazz
Bastard Jazz delivers a second installment of Tempo Dreams, this time enlisting the talents of Bay area funkateers DJ/Producer Teeko and B. Bravo. Together they create an lp filled with electro-funk jams reminiscent of the eighties funk revolution. Highlights include Don't Stop", a wicked bass heavy tune with spacey synths. "Come Too Far" eases along with a laid back groove and features the deep bass vocals of Black Spade. "Back To The Mitten" is another funky gem with sweet synths augmented by Tony Ozier holding down the vocals. Teeko's production is solid throughout and the vocal arrangements are on point. There's a new generation of funk enthusiasts on the scene delivering the funk and Teeko and B. Bravo are two of many newcomers doing their part to push it along. Much to our delight.
Reg Dancy, 01/14
Tekameli - EscolteuMilan Records
These three excellent Roma musicians from southern France, Jean Soler, Salomon Espinas and Julio Bermudez and their guests play Rumba Catalana and Flamenca with great style. This is a collection of religious songs and chants which range from sad to happy but always with passion and wonderful musicianship. Top notch.
Graham Radley, 07/08
Teotima - Counting The WaysFirst Word
First Word was started back in 2003 by DJ Gilla (Aly Gillani) & Andy H in my home city of Leeds and has since developed into a widely respected and diverse label. Their latest release, Counting The Ways by Teotima, a fourteen piece ensemble put together and headed by guitarist and composer Greg Sanders is a real treasure. Horns and swirling strings wrap around soul, jazz, Latin and African rhythms to create an intoxicating mix. Vocalist Ellie Rose Rusbridge adds her haunting folky styling to the wonderful title track and Orange Lamps, both of which are my personal favourites but not to be overlooked are Nearly Everything which has Afro-beat undercurrents and the funky Gloves Off. This album is up there with the likes of The Cinematic Orchestra and The Heritage Orchestra!
Andy Allen, 03/14
Teressa Edwards - Days AheadStudio 45
Teressa Edwards was born and raised in Trinidad but now resides in England. Her My Space page states that this is both her debut and second album so I'm a little confused! Whatever the case may be 'Days Ahead' is a solid R&B/soul set which showcases Tersessa's sweet honey voice perfectly. She particularly shines on the nu-soul orientated tracks 'No More' and the title track, a simple but effective mellow groove with warm key chords.
Andy Allen, 05/07
The 4orce - Mind the Gap Anthems Vol.2BBE Music
BBE and the UK's Producer and MC Steve Ellington join forces to give us this live offering from someone better known for remixing joints by Common, LL Cool J, and Buster Rhymes. On this British Hip Hop monster we are treated to a very soulful set of thirteen tracks helped along the way by Pete Cherry, Tim Baxter and Phoebe One and the most samples.. You will be racking your memory banks listening! Particular favourite here is "Precise Precision" for its soulfulness. Those looking for something harder should head straight to "Magnificent". Top marks for this release - quality hip hop CAN come without explicit lyrics.
Steve Williams, 01/08
The Abstract Orchestra - DillaATA
The Abstract Orchestra is a big band comprised of jazz musicians from around the UK placing an emphasis on hip-hop with "Dilla". Their latest release is filled with alternate takes from the catalogue of the acclaimed producer, the late J Dilla. Led by saxophonist Rob Mitchell who mirrors the mixture of rhythms and textures frequently constructed in hip-hop productions. "Fall In Love" brings all the elements together perfectly. Backed by an irresistible drum snare beat and topped off by lush strings and soothing horns. "A.N.G.E.L." is another banger that highlights the synergy between the strings and horns along with lush backing vocals. "Dilla Mix 1 & 2 is a medley of Dilla treats like "Last Donut" and "Welcome to The Show". Mitchell and company successfully capture the spirit of hip-hop and Dilla specifically with a superb LP that will remind you of his brillance.
Reg Dancy, 08/17