While the instrumental hip-hop phase of 2010 spawned nothing more than a bunch of neophytes pretending to be Flying Lotus and El-P and making the audio equivalent of electronic noodling, there were also some straight-ahead producers of good old boom-bap who remembered that hip-hop can be less ambitious and still interesting. Atlanta (by way of Indiana) producer Illastrate, who most notably worked on fellow ATL resident Boog Brown’s excellent Grind Season Vol. 1 mixtape of 2010 and NYC’s Legacy LP from Akir, has offered his new instrumental turn Eddie Coleman’s Friday Night Theme Music and it does not disappoint in the least.
After a brief intro, the title-track is a hard-as-nails head banger supplanted by scratching from DJ Amdex and some strong piano work from Jeffmatic alongside floating vocals from singer Fatima Washington. Amid well-placed scratches and vocal samples, the track puts the listener in the exact frame of mind needed to absorb the progression of the album. “Inner G” is a beautiful piece of music with vocals from Lyric Jones and Fatima Washington that slowly builds over a rolling, rumbling bass line and excellent drum programming from Illastrate. The vocalists help the song from sinking into repetition and Illastrate wisely floats the drops in and out with dramatic effect. “A Song for Cree” is pure audio seduction as the slow groove never gets too high or low and the guitar-laced track coupled with subdued, steady drumming is a harmonious mix.
Illastrate calls in some help with “Tryin To Get Right” with co-producer Yamin Semali and just as soon as the beat really begins to mesmerize, it fades out far too soon. The LP’s last official track, “Saturday Morning”, features more keyboard work from Jeffmatic and Illastrate provides the rest of the sounds and more of his expert drum programming. The warm-sounding track never shifts in mood, but to be fair, the entire project fits a mood. If Friday nights ever needed a soundtrack, Illastrate’s latest gives one all they could ever hope for and more. There are truly no bad tracks on the LP save for an unnecessary bonus track. The LP is more than just an Illastrate beat showcase; it is also a complete sounding piece of work that proves the ATL producer deserves a much higher profile.