08 April 2017 (released)
08 May 2017
It's been decades since electronic music production has merged with hip hop. A natural progression really from the repetitive, sampled breaks at its core. However, since then hip hop has only harnessed a small fraction of electronica's potential, sticking to played out rhythms and long outdated synth stabs. The hooks still shamefully revolve around a handful of mind-numbingly simple interchangeable keyboard lines using those 'electrical power surge somehow drowning in reverb' synths that you hear on practically every damn song. Rarely, you'll hear a truly innovative and enthralling mix of electronic and hip-hop coming together in new and exciting ways. Arguably, ambient artists create some of the richest productions due to their appreciation of subtlety, obscure melodic sensibilities and their innate talent at layering. If you could somehow get an ambient producer to weave tasteful beats into their sonic tapestries, wouldn't that be the ultimate in groundbreaking hip hop?
HundredMillionThousand is the creation of producer Noel Jon who infuses his late night ambiance with Iranian melodies and minimalist snaking beats to concoct an ambient album with a hip-hop rhythm. He has teamed up with MC's Cab'ral and Kubai to add slick, intelligent rhymes over the majority of his productions. A similar thing was put out back in 2009 by renowned producer Amon Tobin under the moniker Two Fingers. The self-titled release brought bombastic beats and hot MC skills to Tobin's masterful production. Unfortunately, the triumphant album went somewhat unnoticed. Eight years later and thousands of terrible electronic rap tunes later, hopefully, the community has evolved enough to take notice. HundredMillionThousand gives hip hop a direction in which to grow.
Lp1's lead single 'Yalta' goes without the MC backup, instead focussing a beautiful dark Iranian vocal melody. Airy synths and snappy world drums churn out an exotic beat. Lurking bass stalks beneath the rhythm. 'Rescue' has Cab'ral taking people to task while an errant clarinet sound warbles in the background among ominous synths. Synthetic choir erupts like a cassette being stopped and started. 'Serbians' and 'D'om' crawl like a soldier in a night ambush, stalking through and enemy compound with the threat of being discovered looming around every corner. Kurai featured tracks 'Exalted' and 'Tunnelism' bring introspective pondering with a laid-back dirty south style flow. For the album's final trilogy, the mic is handed back to Cab'ral to round it out with a slick bravado.
If more hip hop acts sought out inventive production like this, the genre would be much more of a hub for progressive creativity than what it is now, a place where intelligence and inventiveness go to die. In addition to the killer tracks with MC's, HMT delivers haunting instrumentals that keep you on your toes and paint a vivid picture. Great album from start to finish.