November can be pretty tiresome for many reasons – it’s dark all the time, freezing cold temperatures dampen most thoughts of going out and although it’s late in the year the Christmas holidays still seem a long way off. And everyone’s skint!
Not to mention Trump is now president-elect of the United States…
However, all that sitting at home and battling with the constant crisis of whether to put the radiator on or not, presents a perfect opportunity to feast your ears on my picks of the best latest (and one not so late) hip hop offerings from November. All come from well known artists, i.e theres nothing niche here, but sometimes you just need a helping (musical) pat on the back from rappers we all know and love (well, I love anyway)
I’m thinking less Future, a bit more jazzy beats and soulful samples. Mmmm. Warming.
Enter A Tribe Called Quest, with their latest LP, We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, released on the 11th after an eighteen year hiatus. As a massive Tribe fan, I was more than ready for this, their 6th and final album, made more poignant due to the great Phife Dawg’s death in March of this year. Tribe have proved themselves to be one of the most prominent hip hop groups of all time, and whose work has influenced such heavyweights as Common, D’Angelo and The Roots. If you aren’t familiar, please go and buy The Low End Theory and work from there. Seriously.
Tribe are so well loved for their mastery of ‘urban jungle’ bravado with laid back drum loops and manage to do both catchy radio- friendly rap as well as more introverted, thoughtful tracks. This album is no different. In that sense there isn’t much that’s new here, but in a ‘if it aint broke’ way, it means We Got It From Here plays like deeply comforting nostalgia of an old friend. Q Tip’s production is as inventive as ever with lots of attention to detail in the instrumentalism, and with the jazz influences we are brought right back to the ACTQ original sound, which I think gives the groups whole discography a heart-warmingly cyclical nature.
We get some features from current artists such as Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes and André 3000 make appearances, and even Elton John crops up on Solid Wall of Sound. What makes this album so brilliant is its ability to cover a lot of bases – such as interweaving social commentary about modern America (see We the People), with playful humour and clashing samples. Particularly needed as relief after current global politics.
Overall, if you’re after a bit of bouncy feel-goodness on a November weekday, (or any day for that matter, such is the versatility of this album) look no further. We should be thanking them!
You can purchase the LP here: We Got It From Here
Another highly anticipated return into the music hemisphere is that of Mr Donald Glover, or Childish Gambino, with his third project, entitled “Awaken, My Love!”. As we know from Because the Internet, Childish is good at the experimental, be it with wordplay or theme concepts, so it will be interesting to see if “Awaken, My Love” will follow on this path or go for something differently entirely. Since the album doesn’t actually get released til December 2nd, all we have to go on so far are two tracks – the lead single Me and Your Mama, and Redbone.
From first impressions, it seems Glover is going more down the funk and soul route, with some groovy guitars, and smatterings of gospel choir – far more easy listening than some of the more disjointed offerings we have been given in the past. These two tracks both offer a prettier, twinkly, smoother and, dare I say it, more grown-up sound that goes down very nicely indeed. Look forward to seeing if the rest of the album follows suit.
Check out Childish Gambino’s latest project here: Awaken, My Love!
Lastly, comes a mixtape that actually came out in March, but I reckon this is very suited to a wintery sunny Sunday, which is why it gets my vote for this month.
If you’re a fan of the good old mash-up, comes an offering from producer Seanhk11, combining the works of two of my favourite hip hop stalwarts, the infamous flow of MF Doom and the smooth silky tones of 90s R&B/soul beauty, Sade, in the aptly named SADEVILLIAN. This came out in March, but I reckon this is very suited to a wintery sunny Sunday, which is why it gets my vote for this month. Sade and Doom already kind of pair up on the latter’s Doomsday, with the Kiss of Life sample, and Seanhk11 does a great job with developing this for this mixtape.
If you’re familiar with Doom you’ll know that he goes hand in hand with a bit experimentation (see Madvillainy) when it comes to musical composition, so less surprising perhaps that the mix of jarring lyrics and soulful vocals seems to just work. Standout tracks for me are Air, and Silver Spoon, which beautifully combines Jezebel and Favourite Ladies. On repeat. I asked my housemates to sum up the tape and the general agreement was ‘seductive yet gangsta vibes’ which I think sums it up pretty perfectly.