Review: There are a few Beastie Boys reissue projects in the works at the moment, but none will be more popular than this 30th anniversary edition of one of the band's best. After their experimental mini-album "Roots Down", "Paul's Boutique" is composed, vocals aside, almost entirely of samples all put together in Matt Dike's apartment and the Record Plant in Los Angeles from 1988 to 1989. It marked the moment they were taken seriously, became hip hop giants and broke free of their one hit wonder tag. Its retro style and gleeful misuse of samples was thrillingly original yet familiar and despite the myriad of sounds, scenes and styles drawn upon, somehow they all added up to make this a cohesive album.
Review: This 1988 debut album from Jungle Brothers eschews the use of the sampler, choosing instead to lay down these fresh beats by recorders, all looped by hand, eight bars at a time. The record also features Q-Tip for the first time on the excellent "Black Is Black" which features one of the few samples on the album as the voice of Gil Scott-Heron is stitched into the rolling beats. Smash hip-house hit "I'll House You" was added to later versions of the album and is included here with other gems like "Braggin & Boastin" and "Behind the Bush".
Review: It's only been a year since his last release but in that time Stones Throw man Kiefer has toured the USA and Europe, released a mini-album as well as making three beats for Anderson .Paak's last two albums "Oxnard" and "Ventura". "Superbloom" finds him at his best, with invigorating sunny day beats and bright synths soundtracking a lovely afternoon the park. Jazz stylings, introspective chords and plaintive piano playing make this an emotionally stirring record with real depth, and one that reveals more with each listen. It feels like Kiefer's most honest, vulnerable and personal album yet.
Review: Three months after rapper turned singer Lizzo's major label debut first appeared on CD and digital download, Atlantic has decided to offer up a deluxe vinyl edition of the well-received set featuring three bonus tracks. Prior to release, Lizzo admitted she wanted to become "this generation's Aretha Franklin"; while she's not at the late soul legend's standard just yet, there's enough on "Cuz I Love You" to suggest that she's going in the right direction. Her vocals are variously confident, powerful, strutting and tender, with the accompanying backing tracks mixing hip-hop and R&B style beats with raucous guitars, bombastic basslines, Daft Punk style synth stabs (think "Robot Rock" and "Technologic") and occasional nods towards more pastoral, semi-acoustic sounds. Above all, though, the album is funky, forthright and hugely entertaining.
Review: Amerigo's The Big Payback series finds him bring together some fantasy all stars for his "J.B. and The Soul Mates" tribute concept. Here, James Brown's music is reworked, edited and chopped together with the work of hip hop giant Notorious BIG. It results in speaker blasting, floor filling, ass wiggling jams that mash up all the most iconic verses and choruses from each singer with their most recognisable guitar riffs, drum breaks and samples. It's a colourful collage that is as fun as it is funky.
Review: Brooklyn talent Your Old Droog is a brightly emerging star on the hip hop scene. He has a voice that reminds us a little of the one and only Common, and his flow is just as smooth, his storytelling just as lucid, and his delivery just as easy to parse. Cool, calm and collected, his raps anchor each tune and "Looseys", a long out of print album still sounds as fresh as ever. It has contributions from Joey Bada$$, Styles P, and Rast RFC, as well as beats made by acclaimed names such was Oh No, Black Milk, Statik Selektah, and Jonwayne.