It’s not often that you could put seven decent rappers on one record, and have them be outshone by the instrumentals. The verses aren’t even weak, it’s just that Paul White’s production on Rapping With Paul White is astounding.
The samples are eclectic; the first instrumental “Right On” has thumb pianos and a humming choir. “Trust” has Guilty Simpson spouting fluent paranoia, but he could be speaking Swahili and you’d still recognize the atmosphere of menace: the synths are straight out of a B-movie. The other Guilty Simpson number is more gangsta: its bass line practically swaggers onto the track. The beat is highly-evolved boom-bap.
“Run Shit” has an intro worthy of MF Doom, then slips into a choir and some complicated drums. Marv Won’s the second Detroit voice to feature, and has some polished wordplay, but the killer on the track is the hook, which is a single striking voice in a whining praise song. It’s probably the most memorable ten seconds of music released this year.
Danny Brown spits some crude rhymes on top of electro arpeggios on “One Of Life’s Pleasures.” It seems to be a standard ode to fellatio until it breaks into a jazz piano chorus, topped with a heartfelt vocal from Rick Wakeman’s medieval ballad “Guinevere.” Have faith: it works. Paul White seems to have a taste for unlikely samples. He manages to make cheesy R’n’B sound like a good idea on “Rotten Apples”, by splicing it with heavy guitars and rainfall, before Tranqill gets all aggro on top.
“Stampeding Elephants” (feat. Moe Pope), sounds like the Neptunes channeling AC/DC, and Jehst shows why the UK loves him on the smokers’ anthem “Indigo Glow”. “Weird Day” deserves to be released as a single – it’s got a smooth funk instrumental and Homeboy Sandman at his sharpest, comparing the U.S and U.K.
This album is one of the most exciting things to come out this year. It slips between genres, using elements irreverently, to make something fresh and tuneful.