Smoke (feat. Jonwayne) - Quakers - Quakers (2012, Stones Throw)
Does the fact that Nicki Minaj is currently topping hip hop charts bring you close to tears? Are you considering building a time machine to escape the aural clutches of Flo Rida? It’s okay; Quakers are here with a remedy.
They’re a collective headed by Geoff Barrow, part of legendary trip-hop outfit Portishead; their long time engineer 7-Stu-7; and Katalyst, the Australian producer responsible for Space Invadas. Going by that alone, one could expect the 41-track Quakers debut to be very beats-focused, perhaps something along the lines of Clams Casino’s instrumental mixtape, which met with great acclaim last year. But that’s not quite the case.
The three producers share an obvious love of hip hop, trumping any musical egotism that could result from a collaboration like this. They don’t mind taking the musical back seat to let a lyricist shine through, which is a good thing, as there are around 30 different MCs on the album, including talent like Guilty Simpson, Coin Locker Kid and Aloe Blacc. No, what’s really striking is the authenticity of the sound they create– it’s an album that bows little to current fads. As Barrow said of the project, “We wanted to avoid that whole thing of European producers buying in American MCs to rap some crap over their beats”.
Sporting a combination of tasteful production, a back-to-basics philosophy and an assortment of generally high-quality MCs, Quakers is not only for those missing unadulterated hip hop, but it also serves as a fantastic starter for anyone looking to broaden their horizons in the field. (A review I wrote for Rave)