For National Album Day (12th October, 2019), we asked some of the artists at Tru Thoughts about the albums that have had a significant impact on their lives. With our ever-dwindling 21st century attention spans, alongside the accessibility of single tracks and playlists, there is some speculation that albums could become a thing of the past.
But it is because of this that the album is perhaps more important now than ever before.
National Album Day is about celebrating a full project in its entirety the way the artist intended. This years theme is ‘Don’t Skip’ aiming to explore the benefits of listening to an album from start to finish. Read more about the project or join the conversation online using #DontSkip.
KING KASHMERE (GAWD STATUS)
Company Flow – ‘Funcrusher Plus‘
When I was younger i used to go bombing (graffiti) everyday. I was enamoured by it and loved reading up on the history of it in New York. I would always envisage the subways, train yards and layups and it would give me a certain feeling. This album fully captured that vibe as well as embodying and defining what underground hip-hop can do when left to go wild. So many themes in this album from Philip K Dick sci-fi references, to life as a stepson with an abusive stepfather. This is army fatigues, timberland boots, headphones and backpack music. If you know you know!
Beastie Boys – ‘Hello Nasty‘
Beastie Boys are my favourite band full stop. There are many reasons for this but album-wise they don’t just throw together a collection of songs, they grow an album over a period of sometimes 2 or 3 years! They live life and play when the inspiration hits. So many layers and different styles on this album it’s impossible to skip from “Super Disco Breakin'”, to “Sneakin’ Out The Hospital” to “Dedication” with Lee Scratch Perry, it’s almost like you are on a strange rollercoaster ride through different musical dimensions! But if you know about The Beasties then you know that’s simply just how they get down! R.I.P Adam Yauch.
Quasimoto – ‘The Unseen’
Let me start off by saying…in my opinion…when it comes to beats??? Madlib is the GOAT. This guy is like a cross between Frank Zappa, and Scientist or Lee Scratch Perry or some shit. This guy can literally go anywhere with it. This album was under his alias Quasimoto who has a decidedly high pitched voice and carries a brick round with him. Very short songs with lots of twists and turns and very intriguing all the way through. Jazz chops and loops all over the place! When I put this album on I am not in the room anymore. Definitely transported somewhere else which is something important to me. Albums like this are pure escapism. and to think….this almost never came out. If it wasn’t for an accidental listen from Peanut Butter Wolf we may have never got this album and all its lo-fi glory!
A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Path of Rhythm‘
This album right here is the first and probably most slept on album. This album feels like home. from the warm jazz influenced beats (which were relatively new at the time) to the bright and interesting afrocentric rap style. You can also feel that they were all in the studio together. Again…an album that you can’t afford to skip. This is a slice of a certain time in New York with these kids learning about and making their way through life, but with a wise point of view beyond their years at the time. Its not an album full of club bangers….it’s simply not the purpose of this album. This is meant to accompany you on your travels or at home!
DJ Shadow – ‘Endtroducing…..‘
Even in this playlist-dominated age, I usually listen through whole record without interruption. That’s because I’m narrative fanatic, and album is the best format to experience it. The perfect track order (and even the right length of the gap between tracks) emphasises the quality of each track and the flow will carry you away. It’s extremely difficult to make a record like that, especially if it’s an instrumental album. This record achieved it gracefully. I almost feel a bit stressed when I hear the individual tracks on this record on some playlist because I feel they’re taken out of the context. “Midnight in a perfect world” sounds 100 times more dramatic when it’s experienced as a part of the album.
JOKER STARR (GAWD STATUS)
Mobb Deep – ‘The Infamous‘
What I really liked about this album in 1995 was the production. In particular the dark piano loops on ‘Survival Of The Fittest’, ‘Right Back At You’ & ‘Shook One Pt II’.
Ghostface Killah – ‘Supreme Clientele‘
One of the few albums I could listen to from front to back without skipping any songs. Was also mastered very well so sounds great loud.
MARALISA SIMMONS-COOK (SPACE CAPTAIN)
With ‘Frank’ by Amy Winehouse in particular, the way that she crafted that record from top to bottom absolutely begs to be played in one sitting. It mimics a live jazz set in a smoky club, with scatting and soft guitar at the intro and at the outro the medley “Amy Amy Amy/Outro/Brother/Mr. Magic” includes the voice of an MC kicking people out the venue as the horn trails on, followed by two final encore tunes. The imagery and the sound is all so tangible and organic that it feels like a live record. This album really shaped me in high school and got me into singing seriously. Before that point, I had grown up singing jazz and blues but Amy Winehouse was the first artist that connected the dots for me between roots music and hip hop/r&b. Similarly, Little Dragon who I got into later in my teens opened my mind up in terms of how I could incorporate more interesting production into my own sound while maintaining a vocal foundation that didn’t stray too far away from the music I had grown up singing and loving.
Don Blackman – ‘Don Blackman’
Not sure I’ve got a top 5 albums in that order, but this would definitely be one of them. Amazing musicianship all over and some of it is pretty out there! He had his own style when it came to chord progressions and the funk is proper! I don’t know who the drummer is but I need to find out. Amazing.
Miles Davis – ‘Kind Of Blue‘
Probably the first ever jazz album I listened to. I will never forget. I was in Sheffield at a friend of my mum’s house and he put it on and handed me some posh headphones. I was addicted instantly. The tones he and John Coltrane achieve on this are amazing and the whole band are amazing. Very subtle.
The Clash – ‘Combat Rock‘
My first ever album on cassette, or maybe it was my Dads and I pinched it. “Should I stay Or Should I Go’ and ‘Straight to Hell’ are favourites and of course “Rock The Casbah”. Loved it when the Clash mixed punk and reggae – big source of inspiration for one of my first bands, The Underdog Quartet with my brother.
The Fugees – ‘The Score‘
Another early album I had on cassette. Amazing. Probably one of my earliest experiences of hip-hop, they are all incredible on this seminal album. Somehow, this has stuck with me all my life. For some reason “The Beast” is the tune I always remember, trippy beat and crazy hook! “Warn the town the beast is loose”.
Adam F – ‘Colours’
This album is a complete recording of jazz, drum and bass freestyle brilliance! Coming from the drum and bass scene myself and with Adam F as one of my mentors, to this day this album is one of the foundation blocks that drum and bass is built upon. You can listen from beginning to end and it is a seamless production that will take your mind on to an astral plane. Surfing across bpms and tempo this is jazz at its finest and to this day “Colours”, “Metropolis” and “F-Jams” are some of the finest DnB ever made. I love this album and recommend for all music fans!
New Sector Movements – ‘Download This’
This is one of the first broken beat albums that I bought or was given. “The Sun” track is a particular standout for me with it’s deep melancholy, this whole album is a well thought out and well constructed piece of music from start to finish. In every genre I think people should always pay homage and respect those who came before them. So with IG Culture being one of the founders of the bruk scene, it is important to respect what he has done and the others who built the scene. I love everything about this record from the thick and well mastered vinyls to the artwork and some of the stories behind the creation of this album.
Michael Jackson – ‘Off The Wall’
Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones (my favourite producer of all time) and Rod Temperton, this is when the trilogy of geniuses first came together. This is a classic piece of music and my favourite from MJ. This is such a good album to listen to from beginning to end, the musicianship, the master craftsman really built something special here, capturing a vibration for real. Another timeless composition, that is inspirational.
Silhouette Brown – ‘Silhouette Brown’
This broken beat album was an album that I love, produced by two pioneers of the genre: Kaidi Tatham and Dego. This is funky and soulful piece of wax that I can listen to on repeat again and again. All the way from “Whose In Charge” through to “Just A Little More” this LP is a beauty from start to finish, I recommend you check this out if you haven’t already.
Prince – ‘Lovesexy’
Lovesexy is un-skippable by design. Prince presented it’s 9 songs on CD as one non-stop 38-minute track. Infuriating for some but it remains a testament to Prince’s interests in music tech, and in this case how it can be exploited to focus our attention on an album instead of picking a favourite song. And it pays off as tracks blend together, leaving the listener in a lucid, dreamlike state as we flow from mechanical funk, through ballads and slow jams, gospel choruses and sparing displays of guitar heroics, all bookended by ambient synths and ethereal water sounds, as if we’re bathing in Prince’s own meditation experiment. It’s a surprisingly exhausting listen but deserves your complete attention instead of simply skipping back to Alphabet St for a good old fashioned singalong.