‘Basically we’re bringing it back to basics’.”
Some may have forgotten Loyle Carner’s jewel of a debut record given that it was released right at the beginning of the year.
Rebel Kleff’s old-school hip hop production – pioneered by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest— sees the album chop and change – throwing in 40-second skits and snapshots from Carner’s life – not a moment wasted.
There are twangs of guitar – funk-driven bass lines – gospel choruses – poetry – a saxophone – the gospel chant on ‘The Isle of Arran’ that recalls ‘California Dreamin”…. and at the top of it all Carner’s swift flow that switches up from a languid poetic narrative on ‘No Worries’ and ‘Mean It In The Morning’ to a spitfire on tracks like ‘OCD’ and ‘Stars & Shards’.
Like his heroes – Mos Def – Nas – Common – The Pharcyde – Benjamin Zephaniah – Carner has an astonishing ability to evoke the world that surrounds him and he also shares their capacity for storytelling.
We get a perfect balance between the influences he draws on from the best of US hip hop and the power of his own distinctly south London voice.