Welcome to “Music Discoveries” a new semi-regular cultural feature for The City Lane. In “Music Discoveries”, I will be sharing with you the best of my music discoveries. These aren’t necessarily new releases, rather they are albums that I have discovered as part of my eternal quest for great music regardless of genre or year. If you like good music and expanding your horizons, this is the feature for you.
This week’s music discoveries include My Primal Antithesis by Emily Styler, Jazzy Folklore by Kenichiro Nishihara and 1973 Blaxploitation soundtrack Savage!
My Primal Antitheses
My Primal Antitheses is a confident and at times stunning debut from the very talented Emily Styler. Signed to Mono Creation, a (somewhat) new label formed as a creative collaboration between Casio (yes, THAT Casio) and Kadokawa, Styler has crafted an album that successfully incorporates her background as a vocalist, pianist and composer into the world of Japanese hip-hop. Featuring an array of artists (including Steph Pockets, NjS, and one of my long-time favourites, the always brilliant Raashan Ahmad) the result is as laid back as it is emotional, and provides a taste of what I hope is more to come from both artist and label. Keep an eye out for Styler’s latest single, Last Romance, available on iTunes Japan.
Jazzy Folklore, the 2015 release by composer and producer Kenichiro Nishihara, is the sound of someone at the top of his game. Perhaps one of the hardest working musicians in Japan (check out his numerous compilations, collaborations and side projects), Nishihara is well on his way to cementing his place as a hip-hop hall of famer. This latest release – a jazz hip-hop crossover with as mellow a vibe as you’re likely to find – is further evidence of the sort of growth and consistency that has come to define Nishihara’s output. Accompanying artists, including Substantial, Cise Starr and mabanua, each contribute to the album without ever drawing focus from the star attraction. Special mention to ‘Pass the Tea’ – a track that, while perhaps not the strongest on the album, brings with it a sweet bossa rhythm that did well to transport me anywhere but here.
Don Julian, best known as a heavy hitter in the Los Angeles soul and R&B scene, shows the depth of his musical repertoire with Savage!, the soundtrack to the 1973 blaxploitation cult classic. A criminally underrated recording, at least compared to comparable projects by contemporaries such as Curtis Mayfield (Superfly), Willie Hutch (The Mack) and Roy Ayers (Coffy), Savage! has nonetheless garnered its share of fans thanks in no small part to Warren G (whose 1994 G-Funk classic ‘And Ya Don’t Stop’ samples the incredibly smooth, Chicano-inspired Janitizio) and a 2007 vinyl reissue. Horns, keys and drums feature throughout, and while the flute is the real standout (flautist Jimmy Vinson must have worked overtime), each of the instruments combines to perfect effect. The result? Funk and soul at its purest.