1. Explosions In The Sky | Your Hand In Mine
Definitely one of my favourite all time tracks, from one of my favourite bands. The fact that the Music speaks so loudly, and is so Emotional, without having any vocals just kind of shows how powerful Music can be as a language of its own. Listening to this track reminds me of so many different moments and memories with different people. I’d love to see them live at some point.
2. CL Smooth | It’s A Love Thing
One of my favourite Hip Hop tracks of all time. The horn sample is so Soulful, but Pete Rock’s production, especially with the way he filtered the sample during the verses adds so much to the emotion of the track. I think all the best Hip Hop songs have a kind of late night vibe to them and this track definitely does.
3. Kev Brown | Albany
Kev Brown seems to always be underappreciated within Hip Hop in general. I’d say he’s one of the few people that can both produce well, and MC well, apart from Dilla and Kanye West. This track in particular has a certain emotion that hardly any Hip Hop tracks have. It’s definitely got that late night vibe again with the kind of hazy horn sample that makes me think of sitting on a roof overlooking a city watching the Sun set. The aspects of relationships that Kev Brown covers in terms of the lyrical content are not the stereotypical ones used within Hip Hop. I think it's one of the few Hip Hop tracks about Love that is actually Emotional.
4. Foals | Spanish Sahara
I used to be a fan of Foals when they first came out when I was younger, when they played much more Dance driven Math Rock. I never really took notice of the Total Life Forever album as I’d heard a couple of tracks off it, and it wasn’t as immediately attention grabbing. Having finally bought the album, I much prefer it to their old sound. The sound is much more mature, and the album as a whole is really immersive, although some of the later tracks get a bit boring. Spanish Sahara in particular kind of encapsulates their new sound. I really like the vocals, and the production with everything kind of soaked in reverb. The video's nice too.
5. Souls Of Mischief | 93 'Til Infinity
Also one of my favourite Hip Hop tracks. The beat is really chilled and it’s got such an Old School kind of vibe. Another reason I like the track so much is the video, which is filmed in Yosemite National Park, in California. I went there when I travelled around the World with my dad and it was an amazing place, I’d really like to go back. There’s also a hotel there called the Ahwahnee Hotel, which they based some of the interior of the Overlook Hotel from the film The Shining on, which is my favourite film of all time.
6. Dr. Dre | The Watcher (feat. Knoc-turn'al)
Could be any number of tracks from this album. 2001 still has to be one of the best Hip Hop albums of all time, especially in terms of production, it was really ahead of its time. This track just reminds me of the first time I heard the album, and listening to it with my brother when we we’re younger. The production is so simple, but all the individual sounds are so clean and mixed in perfectly, especially the horn hits. The Watcher 2 with Rakim and Jay Z is also really good.
7. Burial | Archangel
It’s hard to say which of Burial’s tracks are his best or my favourites, but I remember this being the first one I heard. There’s such a distinct sound to Burial’s music, and a kind of emotion that is missing from a lot of Electronic Music I think. Burial’s tracks are like a soundtrack to London really, and I remember reading an interview with him saying how he felt like he’d missed out on not experiencing the whole Rave scene in Dance Music, and you can tell his music kind of replicates his mourning for that style of Dance Music that he was obviously sad not to have been a part of. This track as well from a technical point of view is amazing, the way he used the main sample from a cut scene in Metal Gear Solid is really genius.
8. B. Lewis | Day Two: When The Wise Men Fall
B. Lewis is one of my favourite new producers. This was the first track I heard by him, and I remember thinking how original and fresh his style was. Obviously his music is routed in Hip Hop but there’s much more to it than that, a lot of Soul. I’d say his tunes are fairly difficult to get into at first as there’s so much going on and so many different textures that it's hard to decipher at times, although this track is more straightforward. He’s definitely one of the most creative new producers I’ve heard, especially within Hip Hop. You can tell he’s a real musician as well within all of his music.
9. James Blake | Measurements
Although James Blake gets maybe more praise for his bassier, more Dubstep tracks, I think the quieter tracks like Measurements show just how much of a talented musician and a creative he is. This track is so Soulful, and uses such Gospel infused chords; it reminds me a lot of Bon Iver, another one of my favourite male singers. Definitely more of a headphone track.
10. Darondo | Didn’t I
Heard this track through a Giles Peterson compilation. I listen to quite a lot of old Soul and Motown, mainly through looking for samples but I obviously appreciate it by itself as well. Although the recording is pretty dated, I really like this track, the guitars and melody are so soulful, it’s a great track to sample as well. I think the fact that there’s not much information anywhere about Darondo has kind of increased the mystery of his music.