hip hop . wonky-hop . alt r&b


Genre pick of the week Cover of It's Better For You by Shafiq Husayn.
As one third of SA-RA Creative Partners Shafiq Husayn helped change the world, producing, writing and collaborating with a diverse cast of artists, from Common to Kanye, Jill Scott to J Dilla and Erykah Badu, the aspects of music that SA-RA helped reintroduce to hip hop and R&B can be heard today throughout the current musical climate. Citing the influence of the greats like George Clinton, Prince, Herbie Hancock and Jimi Hendrix, Shafiq's sky high level of quality and musicality is noted and admired all over the world.

Featurng Anderson Paak (formerly know as Breezy Lovejoy) "It's Better For You" is a typically bumpy-yet-smooth hip hop soul groove. Next up we have J Mitchell, aka Melodiousfly, applying quirky soul vox to the wonk-hop that is 'Re-Incarnation' - it was SA-RA that the wonky-hop term was created for I seem to remember. The Dove Society (a collective of artists, musicians and creative-minded individuals brought together by Husayn) drop 'Twelve', a more organic soul-jazz jam that channels the optimistic spirit of Sly Stone. There are instros of all tracks as well.

These are the first song lifted from forthcoming album 'The LooP', a project that includes collaborations with the likes of Hiatus Kayote, Thundercat, Miguel Atwood Ferguson, Fatima and many more. Due for release early 2015.

Cooly G returns with ‘Wait 'Til Night’, an album of sensitive, lo-fi bedroom music, its lyrics sketching dreamy scenarios of seduction, lust and sex. The moody South London house of her debut album 'Playin Me' and her DJ sets has given way to a near-horizontal, sometimes melancholy and highly original take on R&B. The tracks swing effortlessly with no-fuss musical arrangements that are filtered through reggae sound system culture and US R&B in equal amounts, with a slight hint of dark synth-pop wound throughout. The pace has come down from the deep, tribal house she's known for so far, with the only constants that run through the album - her intimate vocals and smokey synths - cross-hatched with her characteristic broken rhythmic sense.

Opening with title track, Cooly coos about a date, over an infectious synth lead that wouldn't sound out of place on a Depeche Mode song. 'Like A Woman Should' is twilight music, synths rolling out like clouds over pulsing drums, while the vocals whisper invitations. 'Your Sex' is a fantasy with synths and surprisingly stabbing, hooky and distorted rhythm guitar. 'I Like' feels like the opening of an especially dreamy jungle track stretched into a full pop song. 'Dancing' rolls out drums and a mini guitar figure into a gently dizzy waltz, while 'Quick Question' plays out the scenario after the dance. 'Want's' barely-there song structure of drum and occasional bass with a wiry synth lead, is accompaniment to a near-whispered vocal. The pace steps up with the smouldering 'So Deep', with a deep synth bassline and a muscular hip hop beat. '1st Time' is all depth charge bleeps, guitars and piano. 'Freak You' is spacious and guitar driven, with Cooly beaming in directives through a distant voice transmission. The album's final honest, angry and forlorn track, 'The 3 Of Us', comes down hard on an absent parent, a full stop on the romance that the album narrates. It also reveals Cooly G as a skilled rap artist, something she’s kept hidden until now, with double-time flows casting off a missing babyfather. ‘Wait ‘Til Night’ finds Cooly G casting her net wider than her debut album, with songs that are more confident, accessible and stylistically consistent. The album comes laced with Cooly's unique honesty and charm and is sure to win her new fans with her catchy melodies, slow-jammed stories of blighted urban romance, and engaging lack of pretension.

Bobbito García Y Su Álala

Park Pick-Up Player - Mark De Clive-Lowe Remixes

Alala Records is Bobbito Garcia’s current vinyl-only label, and third imprint in his 20 years of releasing forward thinking music on wax. His newest release “Park Pick-Up Player” features Kool Bob Love himself doing a spoken word piece inspired by Doin' It In The Park, the basketball documentary he co-directed. Accomplished producer Mark de Clive-Lowe’s remix gives the tune an up-tempo Latin-jazz flavour. “Park Pick-Up Player” has received airplay on and massive club support from DJs Rich Medina (NYC), Sake 1 (San Francisco), and Suce Smash (NYC-Puerto Rico). Enjoy the track on the dancefloor, in your headphones, or on the sideline of a basketball court near you!

'Many Faces Out Of Focus' comprises six joyously well produced tracks from 22 year old Essex boy Stuart Howard. His productions have already caught the interest of those voices seeking future cult heroes and it is no surprise that the finesse with which he controls samples and synths has left every new listener we've played it to smiling with glee. It is easy to cloud the blissful abstracted popiness of this record with the details of its complexities. It's the way that he produces so playfully, breaking rules that others could not and involving the listener in a way that very few producers are able that hooked us in. It wasn't until the mastering studio that we discovered differently tuned bass drums panned to one side then another, a wash of reverb squeezed hard into only one channel and numerous tiny recorded vocal samples. The EP opens with a layered crescendo build on clicks and a seething synth sound, 30 seconds of darkness explodes suddenly into pop hits, tempered with sub bass, set against a sampled and repitched vocal. From this point the EP bathes your brain in lush textures, surprising and explosive atmospheres set in unencountered, unearthly spaces, all somehow perfectly set against catchy rolling choruses informed by pop and commercial R&B.


12" Info: Limited purple vinyl pressing.

Nightmares On Wax

Car Boot Soul

George Evelyn AKA DJ EASE took four years to follow up "Smokers Delight", but it was worth the wait as he came up with another seductive LP full of downbeat delights and dreamy instrumental hip hop gems, which, as the title suggests, is a sample-heavy session for sofa-surfing. Includes the Ibiza sunset classic ‘Les Nuits’.

Nightmares On Wax

In A Space Outta Sound

"In A Space Outta Sound" harks back to the trippy beats of NOW's sophmore album "Smokers Delight", woven together with some heavy references from older dub reggae sounds, recalling Prince Far I and Lee Perry, or subtle 70s soul and soul-jazz grooves. This is George Evelyn, aka EASE's fifth album for Warp in a discography that spans over ten years. Nightmares On Wax is one of Warp's biggest selling and longstanding artists and is most famously known for his "Smokers Delight" album, now regarded as one of the classic downbeat albums of the 90s.


2xLP Info: As the final part of the ‘NOW Is The Time’ campaign celebrating 25 years of Nightmares On Wax, Warp presents double gatefold vinyl represses of the Nightmares On Wax back catalogue. Includes printed inner sleeves and a download card for the full audio.

Nightmares On Wax

Mind Elevation

Another must-have LP from George Evelyn AKA Nightmares On Wax. Reissue of 2002 album. Expanding on the blunted instrumentals they had become known for, the trademark dreamy ambience and looped cratedigger samples of Nightmares On Wax’s world is joined by joyous vocal tracks such as ‘Know My Name’ and the nostalgic rap of ‘70s 80s’, the only track you're ever gonna hear that rhymes 'Muppet Show' with 'electro on the radio'!! Genius!


2xLP Info: As the final part of the ‘NOW Is The Time’ campaign celebrating 25 years of Nightmares On Wax, Warp presents double gatefold vinyl represses of the Nightmares On Wax back catalogue. Includes printed inner sleeves and a download card for the full audio.

Nightmares On Wax

Smokers Delight

Reissue of the 1995 magnum opus - a defining statement of intent in the development of the Nightmares On Wax sound. Moving away from the bleeps and breaks of their first album, ‘Smokers Delight’ presents a post-club comedown journey which experiments with elements of jazz, dub, soul and hip hop.

If you don't own a copy of this LP, you should get one right now 'cos it's one of the best LPs of the 90s. Originally out in '95, it's a defining moment of the 'trip hop' genre and ranks alongside LPs by Portishead and Massive Attack from the same era. Pure schmokers downbeat sounds!


2xLP Info: As the final part of the ‘NOW Is The Time’ campaign celebrating 25 years of Nightmares On Wax, Warp presents double gatefold vinyl represses of the Nightmares On Wax back catalogue. Includes printed inner sleeves and a download card for the full audio.

Nightmares On Wax

Thought So...

From 'bleep' pioneer to purveyor of the sunkissed, psychedelic downbeat funk, Warp records prodigal son returns - his sixth long playing release for the label. "Thought So..." continues the seasonal fun with it's warm, Quincy Jones-inspired soul, rootsy reggae and gentle, deep-funk. All tracks conceived during an odyssey from Leeds to his new home, the Balearic state of Ibiza.


2xLP Info: As the final part of the ‘NOW Is The Time’ campaign celebrating 25 years of Nightmares On Wax, Warp presents double gatefold vinyl represses of the Nightmares On Wax back catalogue. Includes printed inner sleeves and a download card for the full audio.

Ed Piskor

Hip Hop Family Tree Vols. 1-2: 1975-1983 Gift Box Set

    To celebrate the resounding critical and commercial success of the first two volumes of Ed Piskor’s unprecedented history of hip-hop, we are offering both books in a mind-blowingly colorful slipcase, drawn and designed by the artist. As if that’s not enough, in addition to the two books and the slipcase itself, Piskor has drawn a 24-page comic book - Hip Hop Family Tree #300 - specifically for this boxed set that elegantly reflects the confluence of hip-hop and comics, which was never more apparent in the early 1990s than with the famous Spike Lee-directed Levi’s Jeans commercial starring Rob Liefeld, who went on to create Youngblood and co-found Image Comics, not to mention ending up on the radar of gangster rapper Eazy–E. Piskor tells this story as a perfect parody/pastiche/homage to ’90s Image comics.

    Redinho’s always been different. Debuting on Numbers in 2010, his "Bare Blips EP" showcased an artist with no desire to fit into the landscape of the time. Darting between styles and tempos across six tracks that drew from grime, hip¬hop, funk and more, the only constant on "Bare Blips" tracks was that they kicked back – or, at least, remained blissfully ignorant – of the 130bpm house that the rest of the UK was gravitating towards. On his first album, Redinho finds the perfect solution to being out of step – creating his own world to fit into. Across 15 tracks, including acclaimed past singles "Searching" and "Stay Together", Redinho conjures up visions of the deep sea, deep space, not¬-so¬-deep Jacuzzi parties and everything between, binding them together into an aesthetic that's both stylish and starry-eyed. Drum machine ¬driven ‘80s funk is a key influence here, as it always has been with Redinho and Numbers, but where Redinho excels is how sublimely he combines it with other genres: the 'hey' chants and drum patterns of Atlanta hip¬hop on "Playing with Fire", Detroit techno on "Shem", the freeform dreamscapes of "Bubbles", 707¬driven Chicago house on "Going Nowhere" and downtrodden electronica on ‘Say I Want You’. It only takes a few tracks to realise that Redinho’s studied the ‘80s, and the sounds and dynamics that make that style work, but this is far from a throwback album. With a masterful modern sheen and links to contemporary pop and hip¬hop, it’s hard to imagine it being released any time but now.

    Kate Tempest

    Circles / The Truth - Inc. Mike Skinner / Micachu Remixes

    "Circles" is the third single from Kate Tempest’s 'Everybody Down', which is being hailed from all quarters as a masterpiece; a beguiling record that rewards its listener in spades. The Guardian called the album "A stunning literary treatise,” whilst Mojo said this "debut is one of the most unique, startling and powerful you'll hear.” A narrative hip hop album - a modern-day London fable - that is enhanced and subverted by Dan Carey's sculpted production. No more so is that encapsulated than on "Circles"!

    Following on from the singles "The Beigeness" and "Lonely Daze", it is one of the few tracks that is outside the narrative of the album; both giving context to the story while drawing on the universal themes of love, loss, returning, regret and truth that the album explores. With its whirring, intense beats and Kate's lyrical turn of phrase and imagery being at their sharpest, it is one of the most exciting tunes on the record. Witness the gorgeous description in the opening verse "My heart's...Trying to start wars on the bus / Dumb chunk of a muscle with its claws out / Throwing its oars out the dinghy in the middle of a gale / Making whirlpools the way I chase my tail." and be blown away. The Guardian claimed that live "Circles blossoms from paranoid playground chant to fully fledged club anthem."

    The single also includes remixes by Micachu and The Streets' Mike Skinner, underlining how exhilarating this track is. It manages to be darkly atmospheric, joyful and redemptive, everyday and ephemeral, visceral and true - all at the same time.

    This year sees the 15th Anniversary of Tru Thoughts Recordings, the pioneering and innovative label from Brighton which won the coveted Gilles Peterson Worldwide Award for Best Label way back in 2005 and has continued to go from strength to strength, amassing a truly international roster and fanbase as well as mainstream acclaim. This double CD compilation - all compiled by A&R Robert Luis - celebrates the past, present and future of his thriving independent label’s eclectic and adventurous catalogue. The deluxe CD booklet also includes exclusive photographs and an in depth interview with Robert Luis and label co-owner Paul Jonas.

    This celebration of independent artistic talent encompasses the early leftfield electronica of Bonobo and Quantic’s trailblazing world explorations, to Alice Russell’s powerhouse soul and New Orleans’ iconic Hot 8 Brass Band; UK legends like Rodney P and Zed Bias, through to the stars of tomorrow with cutting edge production from Lost Midas, Titeknots and Werkha and the natural vocal prowess of Harleighblu. The double CD features some previously unreleased exclusives, including Wickaman’s D&B remix of the popular Wrongtom Meets Deemas J cut “Jump+Move+Rock”, and a new rework by Paul SG of Bonobo’s classic “Terrapin”.

    Back to top