Angel Del Villar II emcees under the codename Homeboy Sandman. He has written for RapRehab, the Huffington Post, and Gawker. You can follow him on Facebook here.
British producer/DJ Eric Lau just put out a new album called One of Many, and I’m telling y’all this is some smoothed-out ish right here from the top to the bottom, bottom to the top.
I was feeling the title straight off as I’m all about unity and community and strength in numbers. The intro track “Many,” made up of intertwined vocal samples, makes it clear that that’s what we’re talking about. This type of conversational philosophy appears again later on with “We All Are” — just little nuggets of insight on connection and the human experience. This album is not just a bunch of joints thrown together. It’s about something.
Another fat thing about this record is that it introduced me to some amazing new r&b talents. Tawiah freaks it on multiple tracks and will now be checked for in the future. My favorite track on the album might be “Divine,” which features Fatima sounding just like Philly on a hot summer day when a bad-ass girl wearing a brightly colored shirt that shows her shoulders walks by. Rahel is another shining star who appears on multiple cuts — her voice can best be described as the sound of floating.
Of course, you know I love my emcees too, and while this album mostly features songstresses, it also features Oddisee, one of the most gifted rap cats that hip-hop has to offer. He laces “Rise Up” with his distinct DMV drawl. “Burn something/it happened before/learn something.” The kid is nice. (Even though I have to respectfully disagree with his “nothing new under the sun” line. I personally think of brand new ish that’s never been thought up in the history of time every single day. But that’s beside the point.)
Despite the sensational features, the star of the show is clearly Lau, whose soundscapes possess an uncanny ability to whisk you away into another realm. My girlfriend just left for Puerto Rico today and I imagine she must feel exactly like “Here.” “For You” is mandatory for any up-to-date cats looking to set the mood just right. The closing track, “One,” is my favorite instrumental outro since Mos Def’s “May-December.”
This album is satisfying through and through. The themes and lyrics are important and uplifting (special shout to Georgia Anne Muldrow bigging up all natural sisters on “Lily of the Desert.” First line of my last LP was “Wassup wit all these blonde sistas?” so you know I was feeling that). It’s got sensational interlude glue-type tracks to hold it all together, which I’ve always loved since the Beatnuts with all of their little musical interludes. (Beatnuts were kings of that until El RTNC held “Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent” down.) When you’re done listening it if you’re not in a better mood than before you started listening then you must have started off in a good-ass mood.