From Free Gucci To TNGHT: A Retrospective

So the TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke + Lunice for those living under a rock) EP saw its American release today. Instead of an album review (words don’t do it justice), we’ve decided to compile a little retrospective on British producers lending their talents to American hip hop. In an interview with FACT last month, Lunice had this to say:

We’ve been doing this shit for years, and it’s not like we’re new or anything, it’s not like we’re new money shit, it’s not like we came out of the blue and we blew up like crazy. We’ve built a whole foundation of our work. So it’s about that time. I feel like that sort of movement is backed with all of our homies together, like: “This is us! You can’t do this shit! You can’t just take our ideas and come up with it all after all these years. We’re coming for you!

Clearly, Lunice believes that American hip hop producers have been misappropriating hip hop-indebted UK bass for a minute now and are taking a stand. While I don’t think Toomp and Hit-Boy are listening to too much Mount Kimbie, I get it: Lunice has a persecution complex… just kidding. With the EP set to take the States by storm and the duo’s remix of Flocka’s “Rooster In My Rari” igniting the interwebz, it’s easy to see where Lunice’s frustration is coming from. As the UK sound constantly progresses into exciting new territories via labels like LuckyMe and Night Slugs, American producers are often too content to find a sound and stick with it. As a result, some of the best interpretations of American, especially Southern, hip hop have come from British producers. TNGHT might be the apex of the trend (yes we know Lunice is Candian), but many other (mostly) pasty perpetrators have attempted to freshen up Stateside hip hop tropes, both new and old. This is not meant to a comprehensive review, because that would be impossible. It’s just a list of a lot of really fucking good producers remixing a lot of really ignorant hip hop music.

Dubbed by some as the “British Diplo”, it made all too much sense for Sinden to host volume two of Mad Decent’s Free Gucci series. The Burrrtish Edition features 16 remixes of Mr. Radric Davis’s trap anthems, courtesy of a  coterie of revered Brits: HudMo, Rustie, Melé, Mosca and Toddla T just to name a few. Predictably weirder than the Diplo hosted Volume One (with the exception of the Flying Lotus contribution), the tape is an exhibition in low end sounds with varying levels of success. HudMo’s take on “Party Animal” essentially spawned TNGHT, is utterly playable to this day and should probably soundtrack your next night of drunken shenanigans. Melé also wins big with his wonky reinterpretation of “Missing” from The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted (a largely overlooked Gucci project). Stripped down and menacing, “Missing” is a precursor to some of Melé’s more recent Soundcloud uploadsBurrrtish isn’t much of a cohesive project drawing from every realm of bass music, but who cares when HudMo, Melé, Rustie and Sinden bring the collective heat?

Download: Sinden Presents Free Gucci 2:The Burrrtish Edition

Hit the jump for the rest of the retrospective…

We mention Night Slugs above as a label known for constantly challenging the boundaries of the club music, but they’ve also taken several stabs at hip hop. Girl Unit’s eponymous “Wut”, the label’s biggest hit to date, borrows heavily from Southern hip hop tradition, all the while ripping a hole in the time-space continuum. More directly, Jam City enlisted “cloud” rappers Main Attrakionz for a vinyl only release titled “The Night Life”. It’s no surprise that the Oakland duo sounds right at home on Jam City’s swimming backtrack. More than anyone else on the label, Kingdom (who now resides in Brooklyn) has melded the Night Slugs sound with American hip hop gracefully. Along with his recent foray into American club culture via his Fade To Mind imprint, Kingdom is also signed to Fools Gold, a label known for quality dance/hip hop releases (think Danny Brown, Flosstradamus). Check out the Crime Mob sampling “If You Buck” and the Girl Unit assisted reinterpretation of Ciara’s “Ride It” for that big Kingdom sound.

We all know James Blake as the crooning dubstep savant, but is he also a closeted hip hop head? His breakout hit “CMYK” does sample Kelis after all. His Harmonimix alter ego is a more telling sign of his enthusiasm for the boom bap side of things, though. Blake’s often funky remixes of Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli”, Outkast’s “Ms Jackson” and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” bring him back to his days as a Mount Kimbie collaborator, strides away from his self-titled full length. “A Milli” is especially effective as Blake replaces Bangladesh’s droning banger with a slippery, synth driven alternative. I doubt we’ll see Blake producing for Big Boi anytime soon, but who wouldn’t be excited to see that?

One wouldn’t be all that mistaken to assume that Star Slinger is from Memphis, Miami, or at least New York. The Mancunian has, after all, remixed ASAP Rocky, Drake and Danny Brown. Slinger’s Soundcloud page is eclectic as they come, ranging from sunny, sample based hip hop instrumentals, to indie rock reinterpretations to more traditional UK bass tunes. With solo tunes featuring members of Three 6 Mafia and The pack under his belt, Slinger has inserted himself into the American hip hop fans’s mind eye more than just about anyone else.

With a spot on Tri Angle records, it’s no surprise that Youtube sensation Evian Christ’s music harkens to the darker, more experimental side of the hip hop spectrum. Like labelmate Clams Casino, Christ’s breakout Kings And Them takes ambient and throws it in a blender with mainstream hip hop, all the while avoiding the usual trappings of “minimal”. That’s pretty much where the comparisons with Clams end though. Even when sampling the likes of Tyga (on both “Thrown Like Jacks” and “Fuck It None of Ya’ll Don’t Rap”), Kings And Them maintains a sense of vast emptiness. It’s just about impossible to imagine an MC on one of Christ’s tracks, but then again, who would have predicted that Clams would become one of the biggest producers in the game?

 

Taking it back a few years, Massive Attack, yes that Massive Attack, briefly emerged from hibernation last month to post a remix of the best Nas track in forever on their Soundcloud. It’s no secret that trip hop is deeply indebted to the breaks and rhythms of hip hop, but “The Don” sees the UK legends digging deeper than ever.

With British artists both new and old embracing hip hop, a future where Rustie lays down beats for Future (see what I did there?), or Pariah works with Danny Brown isn’t out of the question. We certainly wouldn’t mind.

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