The initial thought that came to mind in the process of making “Blackcurrent Jazz 2” was to create a landscape of ideas that capture the truest essence of Jazz but that also embodied the purest and most authentic hip-hop feel. The original Blackcurrent Jazz album (released in 2001) was a great piece of work but for me was more a mesh of beats and breaks and sometimes with tracks that didn’t even lend to Jazz at all. This time around I wanted every single song to scream JAZZ!!! But still using a combination of Jazz breaks that give off varying vibes.
I wanted this album to be more polished, more distinguished and more discernable than 10 years ago. Smoother, more intricate and ultimately more of a thought through process to it. So I set about the production process which I knew would be huge, because I wanted to use additional beats for 20 second interludes to be used in between each main track, which then ultimately doubled my production load. I also knew that the main selections all had to musically jump out at me and I wasn’t going to start writing until I had found all the right beats that made me feel as if I have the right ingredients for a classic album.
And then it started. Hours of sampling, cutting, chopping, filtering, and pitch shifting, mixing and then mixing again. Then came the writing, recording and editing, which for me is a very lengthy and meticulous process. And finally after over 6 months work came “Blackcurrent Jazz 2: The Gold Reflection” subtitled to pay dues and respect to the golden era of hip-hop (the 90’s).
As the introduction track to the album, “Jazzphonics” is my declaration to a commitment to the use of jazz in hip-hop and the sounds that bring the music alive. The song twist and turns from jazz piano to a rising scale baseline which embodies the true essence of jazz music with smooth scratches and rhymes to compliment.
2. Le Jazz Courant Noir:
The title of this track is in French and simply translates to the meaning “The Black Current Jazz”. The track is a lyrical reminder of the beauty of the first Blackcurrent Jazz album where I make reference to tracks from it and also the success the album had when originally released in 2001. Lastly this track serves as my mark of respect to some of the greatest jazz musicians over the years including Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.
3. No Comprendo:
The title of this track is in Spanish translating to the meaning “I don’t understand” and is based around the frustration of sometimes not understanding the behaviour and characteristics of some people and why they sometimes do the things that they do. It expresses the observations of the possibilities that maybe they don’t understand themselves too. The elegant piano melody is the perfect backdrop for the soundtrack to provide a cool but fluent piece. “No Comprendo” features the vocal talents of “Dukus Alemay” who appeared on the original “Blackcurrent Jazz album as a producer (named Dukewon at that time) producing the track “What You Saying Girl”.
4. Son of a Brown Bomber:
A strange title some would think, but here is the explanation. My Father passed away in the month of May in 2010 and so I decided to record a tribute track to him. My Dad used to play soccer as a youth for a local football team in Ghana. The team were nicknamed “The Brown Bombers” and so naturally I am the… “Son of a Brown Bomber”. I used this track to talk about and give my heartfelt recollection of the many memories of my Dad and growing up under such great man.
5. About You:
“About You” is a smooth track dedicated to the ladies where I’m just trying to get to know a girl a little more after setting my eyes upon her. What is really cool about this song is that it’s a one way conversation that never seems to go beyond the initial stage of meeting the girl and me doing all the talking, but yet the conversation spans the duration of the entire song. I heard the strings whilst listening through some old breaks and instantly I knew I’d make a great joint with them.
6. Ode To Nujabes:
This track is a dedication to the late Nujabes, a hugely talented Japanese producer, DJ and businessman. Nujabes was initially responsible for my visits to Japan in the late 90’s and we worked together in the studio on a series of tracks that would later be released and become classics within the Japanese hip-hop scene. On this track I’m just telling the story of how we both came to know and work with each other and the experiences we shared together. The story leads right up until the tribute show in Tokyo in August 2010 where I performed to a sold out venue some of the many tracks that Nujabes and I recorded together. I chose the samples for this tribute very carefully so to be as fitting to the mood of bringing the appropriate feelings out in this song.
7. Like This:
With a very interesting take on being the bigger man, I talk about having the ability to walk away from bad situations that we would normally stay and argue and fight in and having the capacity to just exit to avoid stress and dire outcomes. The hook (which came to me before writing the rhymes) is a nonchalant whistle which becomes infectious by the time the track is over.. I call this one my “Whistlers Anthem”.
8. City Nights:
This is a detailed tale of my observations on my way home one night walking through the city and all the things that occur during my journey. Musically it has a real dark feel to it until the chorus arrives introducing a sample flip, showing off my true love for jazz in hip-hop.
9. You Know Me:
A very smooth and subtle track in which I choose to express a few simple things about myself that people may not otherwise normally know, hence the title “You Know Me”. These are maybe the things that only people who know me personally would know but now I share some of these things with the listeners over a smooth cocktail Jazz piano.
10. Still Dreaming:
This is a tale about the dreams of Rapper upon entering the hip-hop industry and the pitfalls that soon await those who are not prepared for them. On first listen you may think I’m talking about myself, but on review I am merely asking the question “Is this the life of an unknown artist?” … who is actually… still dreaming…
11. The Nineties:
The 90’s are considered by most to be “The Golden Years” of hip-hop because of the purist attitudes and intense authentic creativity it spawned in artists of that era. This track is a dedication to the sound of that era. Everyone remembers the deep baselines, sparse horns and boomin’ drums.. This track embodies… exactly that!!
12. Mana, the Girl from Kanagawa:
A definitive story of a mysterious girl that I met in Tokyo a few years ago. She is from the Kanagawa prefecture, but I don’t not know precisely where, though I can guess she is from “Yokohama”. This is the tale of being lost in translation because I don’t speak Japanese and the girl Mana does not speak any English. The track musically is a flip of over 10 versions of the same Jazz classic by different artists where I had to program and retune the breaks so the piece could end up sounding more orchestral and as if all the breaks came from one place. And it seems as if it has worked well as you will hear many different instruments playing the same melody, all taken from different versions of one track.
13. Ever Since:
“A clever little song” as I like to call it, which is musically intricate in the production. The track features the talents of Jazz, Funk and Soul artist “Xantonè Blacq” on piano and vocalist and song writer “Dyanna Fearon” on the hook. I wanted to lyrically use my wordplay to engage and bounce within the English language using one word as the basis for the whole rhyming verse each time round.
14. Half a Dozen MC’s:
A mammoth track featuring 5 MC’s that I heavily respect from London who are; Messiahbolical, Pyrelli, Dukus Alemay, Sus and Ricko Capito. There is no intro, chorus or outro; only 6 rappers taking 16 bars each to say whatever it is they want to say for their time. This creates a colourful contrast of vocal tones and hip-hop flows over the Xylophone laiden up-tempo groove.
15. Whatever Happened To?:
Lyrically thought provoking, I ask “Whatever Happened To?” the numerous good and wholesome traits that people should naturally have in life? Accompanied by songstress Lei-an on the hook, it’s a reflection of the times we live in and where we can make things better. This track is produced by Japanese Producer “Melodiverse” from Aomoriken Aomori City, Japan who I have previously recorded some tracks with on his production. I wanted to get him on my album for sure and was very pleased when he agreed to be a part of this project!
16. It’s Beautiful:
A very chilled joint with a filtered traditional jazz grooves and laid back vocal tones. The break was actually something I had looped up on the Commodore Amiga before I even made my first album but I discarded of it, not because it wasn’t good, but because my production technique needed more work as a 17 year old and I didn’t get back to this break until this album. The sample flip at the end is one of my favourite parts of this track and in my words is… “beautifully classic”.
17. Deal With It:
Produced by Japanese Producer “CM Smooth from Osaka” this track is jazz hip-hop is its rawest form where I tell tells others to “Deal With It” .. deal with what exactly?…. I guess whatever they are unhappy about with me!!! You’d be surprised!! I recently recorded 5 tracks with CM over his beats and I must say, I was hugely shocked when he delivered the calibre of work he did. He is like Melodiverse, supremely talented.
Blackcurrent Jazz 2 is a huge milestone for me. I feel like this album and the 4th Quarter are the only 2 albums I have recorded that I can place the word “perfect” to. Now that’s not to discredit or mark down all my other work, but these 2 albums specifically hold that tiny extra piece of… “Funky DL magic”…. Enjoy…