Articles by The Analog Vault

Album of the Month: Mos Def - Black On Both Sides (1999)

Album of the Month: Mos Def - Black On Both Sides (1999)

Mos Def, or currently known as Yasiin Bey, is an American hip hop artist hailing from Brooklyn, New York City. Having a career spanning through the 90's and better associated with the underground hip hop scene of the time. Having appeared on albums by Da Bush Babees, De La Soul and finally forming a formidable duo with Talib Kweli as Black Star. Considering the strength of his collaboration with Talib Kweli, it was no surprise his solo debut followed soon after to a roar of high praise for his socially conscious lyrics, solid production and focus on live instrumentation played none other by the multi-talented Mos Def himself.

Guest MCs and producers featured on this release includes Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, (Of A Tribe Called Quest) Busta Rhymes and DJ Premier (Of Gang Starr) to name a few. Stand out tracks from the album includes "Hip Hop", "Mathematics" and "Ms Fat Booty". At his best, Mos Def showcases his exceptional flow that's smooth as butter that will entrance you and hold your attention. With lyrics that talk about his trials and tribulations of being in an industry that's filled with danger where no MC is safe and with slice of life anecdotes that will amuse. Mos Def will get your body grooving and your head bopping despite being overly preachy with his rhymes at times.

If you like your hip hop to be about the people and for the people, then Black On Both Sides is for you.

Essential Tracks: Hip Hop, Mathematics, Ms Fat Booty

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Album of the month: Portishead - Dummy (1994)

Album of the month: Portishead - Dummy (1994)

Genre: Electronica

Style: Trip hop, Downtempo

One can never talk about Trip Hop without first mentioning Massive Attack and Portishead. As one of the early champions and possibly the band that further refined the Trip Hop genre first laid out by Massive Attack. Solidifying and expanding on what was known as the Bristolian Sound, comes Dummy the debut album that pushed Trip Hop further into the collective consciousness of the nineties.

With an expansive influence drawing from dub, jazz and hip hop. Portishead has created a strong debut with a heavy Gothic, melancholic sound. With clever use of live strings, Rhodes piano and jazz samples the album plays more like a soundtrack to an old time noir or spy movie. Beth Gibbons’ (Vocalist) frail and smooth contralto vocals will lull you into a sense of false security. She’s the dame singing in the smoky jazz club that you’ve arrived for your secret rendezvous. The one who doesn’t demand your attention, doesn’t even crave it and yet you give it anyway, cause you’ve been spellbound.

The lyrics are dark and brooding, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You will need a glass of whisky after this one.

Essential Tracks: “Sour Times” “It Could Be Sweet” “Glory Box”

Purchase a copy of this album at our store here.