If Terrel Wallace made clothes he would be creating crisp, tailored suits made from all natural materials. They’d come in a range of colours like those worn by the Four Tops and the Temptations during Motown’s golden years. And the words frequently attached to wearing one of his suits would be: suave, sophisticated and timeless.
Terrel Wallace does not make suits. He makes music. But those same words apply.
Let’s Take a Trip is the second album from this Detroit-born producer under his Tall Black Guy moniker, following 2013’s 8 Miles to Moenart. Once again, the sharp beatmaker has come through with a stimulating collection of instrumental and vocal hip hop, that makes you feel better about yourself and your abilities.
Tall Black Guy’s productions are distinctive. They’re hypnotic (‘Beware of the Groove (feat. Mario Sweet)’), cerebral (‘One Device, One Method, One Thing’) and confidence-boosting (‘Don’t Box Me In (feat. 80s Babies)’). They have what I’m going to describe as ‘tinted vintage’ about them: rootsy instrumentation that sounds like it was recorded in the 60s or 70s, shaken up, and given a seasoning of subtle modern touches that make the end result sound retro and contemporary at the same time. Disclosure have done this with their Moog for Love EP, remixing Al Green’s vocals. But there’s a naturalness to TBG’s music, an authenticity, that makes it standout.
Tall Black Guy has long been a producer’s producer to my ears. Let’s Take a Trip backs up this view further. This is music that makes you feel like a scholar of beats and an athlete of the dance floor. This is the kind of music you can spin in your crib while you chill with your girl/guy/homies and ruminate on life’s bigger questions (‘Is There More to Life?’). This is the kind of soulful and subtle mood music that you soften up the hip hop non-believers at your party with before hitting them with A Tribe Called Quest, De La and all the rest.
Between his tinted vintage sound, socially conscious messages (‘Things Deeper Than My Skin’) and hypnotic neo-soul for lovers of Erykah Badu and Solange (with some help from LA newcomers, Moonchild), Tall Black Guy takes you on a wonderfully satisfying journey.
Let’s Take a Trip is out now on First Word Records.
Have you listened to this album? If so, what did you think of it? Tweet me @aarnlee.
Image: Tall Black Guy