Kaytranada – 99.9% review

Kaytranada is only 24 years young, but already this Canadian whiz kid has been become one of the most sought-after producers of the moment. His debut album, 99.9%, includes features from GoldLink, AlunaGeorge, Syd tha Kyd, Anderson Paak, Vic Mensa and others. It’s a moreish album held back by some slight, but noticeable, structural flaws. Continue reading

Tall Black Guy – Let’s Take a Trip review

Tall Black Guy profile photo (630x350)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. Continue reading

NxWorries – Yes Lawd! review

NxWorries (Anderson Paak & Knx), 2015 (1914x1072)An album like Yes Lawd! does not come around every year. It’s a collaboration between Anderson Paak and Knxwledge, two tirelessly creative musicians who, as Stones Throw puts it in the album’s liner notes, are no “stranger to the head-down hustle”. Both are in heavy demand right now, having worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Dr Dre, and released their own solo work (Malibu, Hud Dreems) to great acclaim. So Yes Lawd! is a special bonus. Paak and Knx have put together a 19-track mix of songs, skits and snippets for you to kick back and chill. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Millie Jackson – Still Caught Up

Spring Records, 1975Millie Jackson - Still Caught Up (1280x720)

Millie Jackson will make you blush. We’re used to the idea of Marvin Gaye, Ike Turner or Bobby Womack hollering passionately about how much they’re yearning to get on down with their respective ladies. But when it comes to soul sisters, mainstream radio, and society in general, seems far less tolerant of the women of this era expressing their experience of love and desire in an equally candid manner, lest it shatter their demure professional persona. Coming from a young black woman, Jackson’s raunchy soul music – along with kindred spirit, Betty Davis – almost certainly broke sex and relationship taboos in music during the 70s, and remains an empowering step for female artists*. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Candi Staton – Candi Staton

Honest Jon’s / Capitol Records, 2004
Candi Staton, press photo, Dec 2005, Alan Messer, 01 9590x332)Christmas with candy has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? But while overindulging in the sweet stuff will see you spending more time at the dentist the following month, there is one confection you can indulge in all calendar year without guilt: the music of Candi Staton.

Candi Staton - Honest Jon's 2004 comp artwork, 500This southern-born soul and gospel singer is best known for featuring on the 1986 version of ‘You’ve Got the Love’ by the Source. But it is Staton’s early soul music that will really make you sit up and take notice. UK independent label, Honest Jon’s Records, released a compilation of her music in 2004, making 26 songs from her much-sought after FAME recordings available to new listeners. (You can now get a double-CD, featuring all her master recordings from this era, but the Honest Jon’s CD is a bargain nowadays – got mine for £2. Its vinyl version, however, is almost as pricy as Staton’s classic LPs.)

All of the songs on the simply titled compilation, Candi Staton, are unfettered confessionals that steam with emotion. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: J Dilla – Ruff Draft

Stones Throw Records, 2007
J Dilla in the studio, surrounded by a producer's paradise of instumentals, synthesizers and rare vinyl records (Roger Erickson/Stones Throw)People of a certain persuasion still don’t consider hip hop an art form. And it doesn’t matter how many conscious cats you bring up, because, to them, when it comes to sampling and beat-making, they don’t believe the act of reusing musical phrases in new ways constitutes ‘real music’.

They’re wrong, of course, because without being moulded, shaped and, crucially, edited, songs as we know them could never be formed. This role of editing gave rise to the music producer and, today, they are very much originators in their own right. Continue reading