This irresistible instrumental platter is sure to make you swagger some.
Chris Parkin 2009-12-18
For all music’s more obviously compelling components – its biting insight, its fire-in-the-belly roar – frequently it’s the groove that matters most. Utilised with easy precision it’s a powerful weapon. Striding down the street, headphones on, the tunes of Stevie, T.Rex, Can, 24-Carat Black, J Dilla (the list is long) can turn casual daydreaming into a cinematic thing. You’re Mr Pink in Reservoir Dogs, protected, like Batfink, by a shield of steely cool. It feels good.
Los Angeles stable Stones Throw know this, releasing record after record of impeccable cool with grooves that are canyon-deep. Their stars, some of who you might know, include disco spinner James Pants, the Beat Konducta Madlib and Mayer Hawthorne, whose Hammond-tickling A Strange Arrangement album is a vintage treasure. To these add Mr Chop, who releases this set through the Stones Throw-distributed Now-Again label in the US (and Five Day Weekend here in the UK).
Unlikely as it is, this multi-talented chap, who sometime employer (ex-MF) DOOM calls the “illest to grace the boards”, hails from Cheshire. His sounds are anything but WAG-ish, though. At home he runs Ape Studios, schooling himself in hip hop’s classiest moments and perfecting the jazzy, funksome skills necessary for that boastful, tongue-in-cheek name of his and a working relationship with Jazzman Records.
This second outing is a fitting tribute to one of his idols, Pete Rock. He’s reworking the beats conjured by the Bronx-born rapper (and cricket fan) famed for his early 90s partnership with CL Smooth and feted in a similar vein to the Wu’s RZA, whose snappy, whip-crack beats he shares a fondness for. Taking these beats and samples – some familiar, like the sax on T.R.O.Y. and the eeriness of Nas’s The World Is Yours, which Rock produced – Chop (aka Coz Littler) stirs Rock’s jazzy, horn-soaked honey into the sort of heady psych-funk brew that Andy Votel or Amorphous Androgynous are associated with.
Powered by breakbeats and bent out of shape by jowly basslines, jazz freakouts, whirring, tropicalia riffs, gently skanking dub, alien synth sounds that nod to KRS-One and Dre’s rattlesnake technique, Chop turns the Rock sound into a lens through which he reveals, brilliantly, all the music that has influenced his rap hero. Wobbling between left and right speakers like the 70s funk and rare groove that Chop sounds like he was schooled on, this irresistible instrumental platter is sure to make you swagger some.