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"Pretty much any half decent hip-hop producer who has a way with a stoned beat and adds a stutter to a loop gets comparisons with Dilla. It is simultaneously a tribute to the lasting legacy of James Yancey who passed over a decade ago now; a poor reflection on genre that someone who passed over a decade ago is still seen as ahead of the game and also quite likely to be lazy writing by reviewers. So I'm glad I didn't fall into that trap.
What struck me about Mahatma X's album though wasn't similarity with Dilla's work - rather, I was constantly taken back to when I first listened to DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. The way 'A Mobtown Suite' marries dusty grooves and stoned beats with an emotive series of moods suggests that there is a real musical talent at work here. From sun-drenched guitar licks matched to a killer bass line on 'citycyde' to the plaintive and melancholic 'Gloriaaa' this is more than a beat tape for the head-nodders. Whilst the short running time of each track means that there perhaps isn't a particular standout, this shouldn't be seen as a weakness, more a reflection on the coherence of the whole. This is a record to listen to in its entirety.
If we are going to make comparisons with more contemporary artists than the mid-90's era Shadow, then for me producers like Tall Black Guy and Eric Lau are treading a similar path to Mahatma X. Tracks like 'Bright Moments' could have appeared on TBG's highly collectable '8 Miles To Moenart'. Drawing in sounds and influences from a global sonic palette and filtering it through a hazy hip-hop filter, this is music that takes you to a more cosmic plain than you get with mainstream hip hop. Elements of jazz, and far eastern sounds are blended with lazy funk beats, sundowner guitar refrains and spacey synths over these 17 tracks.
Those that dug the Knxwledge album on Stones Throw will love this, 'Mahatma and the White Devil' and 'His Name Is B' are a match for the most head snapping tracks on 'Hud Dreams'. However, whilst this is a hip-hop album, I don't think it is something that should appeal only to hip-hop heads. A new wave of exciting producers are delivering some incredible music at the moment; throwing jazz, broken beat, deep house, world music, hip-hop, soul and funk into a melting pot.
Mahatma X I feel should be considered alongside the likes of Tenderlonious, Jeen Bassa, Yussef Kamaal and Kaidi Tatham and are certainly an act to watch - 'A Mobtown Suite Volume 2' is already on my wants list - they just need to make it." Norman Records
LIMITED EDITION YELLOW VINYL
Limited to 100 copies. Includes WAV/MP3 download.
Sold out at source.
REGULAR BLACK VINYL EDITION
Limited to 150 copies. Includes WAV/MP3 download.
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Limited edition of 250 matt digipak CDs
Lossy 320kbps download.
Killer album of 17 stoned Hip Hop jams from Philadelphia.