Even though he has some of the finest hip-hop production credits around, I’m willing to bet there’s a large number of you readers to whom Willie Green will be a new name. Well it’s about time you familiarize yourselves. The Boston-bred, NY-based Willie Green has laced some superb tracks over the years for the likes of Cannibal Ox, Super Chron Flight Brothers and a slew of other emcees. Last summer he released the instrumental album …Of Heroes and Villains, which received some nice love from yours truly. Picking up right where he left off, Willie brings us a tremendous new selection of instrumentals in the form of Dirty Jordans.
It seems that instrumental albums these days are almost a-dime-a-dozen. Many producers have taken up the post-Dilla, wonky style, while others veer more towards electronica, chanelling idm and ambient textures. Then there are the straight up hip-hop instrumentals – the ones that sound like they were taken straight from mid-90s boom-bap classics. Dirty Jordans falls into none of the above categories.
While it’s possible that from the above selection, Dirty Jordans is closest to the traditional boom-bap instrumental, Willie Green’s work here is far less predictable. His drum sequences and samples reach far beyond what would be considered standard. He orders the tracks seamlessly, all while flipping the tempo at unexpected moments to keep the music lively. Additionally, Dirty Jordans caters perfectly to our ADD-prone society. Not one track passes the two-minute mark, which means there is plenty of material (30 tracks) for listeners to wrap their brains around. Willie toys with a variety of samples, from obscure, distorted guitars, to loopy organ stabs. There is even a hint of world music influence, such as on the album’s lead single “David Lopan”.
One of the most distinct features of Willie Green’s album is his insistence on littering the album with vocal samples lifted from movies and cartoons. This tactic certainly adds a flavor and quirky humor to the album. However, there are times when the vocal chops suffocate the music; it would be better in certain circumstances to just let the music breathe.
What’s pleasant about this album is that there really isn’t a wasted track. Even the 11-second “Shhhhh” has something to contribute to the overall essence of the album. And as far as the standout tracks “If This Truck’s A Rockin…” and “Fish In The Sea”, there is a very short list of other instrumentals from this year that can match their sonic brilliance. So if you’re in the mood for dancing, for some serious head-nodding or for just kicking back and vibin’, Dirty Jordans is for you.
4.5 out of 5