Review: As long as there is hip-hop, debate will rage as to which album by A Tribe Called Quest is their finest. Of course, they're all superb, but 1993's "Midnight Marauders" - their third full-length - may well be the best of all. That's a big call, but we'd ask any doubters to give it another listen. The New York crew is in particularly fine form on the mic throughout, while the backing tracks, which make great use of crunchy, head-nodding beats and hundreds of superb, hand-picked samples, are amongst the most intricately produced, groovy and deep ever committed to wax. It's one of those hip-hop sets that should be in the collection of any committed music head, and not just rap fans.
Smile (feat Ms Dezy, Aloe Blacc, Latoiya Williams) (4:12)
Fruitful (feat Sean Biggs) (4:31)
Big Mel (2:56)
Review: Cali-bred, Nevada-based couple G&D aka Georgia and Dudley have long been dealing in lyrically challenging hip hop that brings racial issues to the fore. More relevant and impassioned than ever in the era of Trump and his MAGA nonsense, Dudley says of this new album, "Truth fucks with people. This ain't just music; it's a message and a tool to raise up the spirit of the black race". As such the album mixes up those ideas with g-funk, soul, 70s funk, psychedelic sounds and contemporary beat making into an album that runs the gamut of emotions and will keep you coming back for more.
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: "Call on Me" is the standout single from cult Japanese beat maker mabanua's 2018 album Blurred. It's an impossibly innocent and naive sounding track thanks to Chara's angelic vocal delivery and the gentle, carefree guitar licks beneath, but it gets totally flipped by Knxwledge. The in demand, LA-based Stones Throw artist reworks it into a slow motion beat with hazy chords and a superbly funky bassline. In his hands, Chara's vocal becomes somehow romantic, adding to the track's alluringly lovestruck vibe.