Some real quality LP's released this year, though the big news in my opinion was the resurgence of Jazz. Artists like Darryl Reeves, Gregory Porter, Diggs Duke and others really brought back that Jazz flavour weve been missing for a moment now.There were decent releases from named artists, and the independents released quality music all year round; If your a soul music fan, you need to do some digging on Bandcamp and Soundcloud for those new artists with the talent that major labels have decided to ignore.
Also; Seriously, wheres that D'Angelo LP?????
Anyhow, with no more hesitation, here are my list of the best LP's of the year, in no particualr order save for the No.1 spot.
10. Positive Flow - Flow Line
A late entry into my list, this LP is gonna get comparisons to a 4Hero work. Including vocal talent from Omar to Stacy Epps, Colonel Red, Vanessa Freeman, Andre Espeut, Heidi Vogel (Cinematic Orchestra), the LP encompasses various styles from Galactic Soul, Jazz, House, funk and more. "Children of the Sun" is a tribute to Rotary Connection (as is "Tapestries of the mind") and is one of the years best; Omar blesses two tunes, "My Prediction being a killer; "The Quest" is 4Hero love all the way with its soulful groove and spoken word vocals; Almost took my number 1 spot, has the quality that makes it a contender, and Tokyo Dawn Records and the UK's own Jesse Reuben Wilson should be proud. Essential.
9. Karriem Riggins - Alone Together
Not since Dilla's DONUTS have I enjoyed what is essentially a beat tape so much. I do it a disservice actually; This LP (A combination of previously released EP's) is a black music soundscape. Karriem, multi-instrumentalist and successful producer, takes us through Hip Hop Grooves, Soulful melodies, Latin shufflers with no track lasting more than a couple of mins. Thats why there's 34 tunes. Karriem intersperses the beats with his much sought after drum work, keys and even harpsichord and leaves you wanting more than the snippets of tunes he provides. Those snippets together though, they make a terrific whole.
8. Diggs Duke - Gravity/Black Gold/Mass Exodus
Cheat number 1. These are a set of EP's that Diggs started releasing late last year and throughout 2012.The first, Gravity, includes the soulful, drum laced "Epic Lie", and used to include the Jazzy "Black & Blue" (Which looks like its been withdrawn to feature in a future project); Black Gold has the stunning "Something in my soul" and the rhythmic "Black Gold"; The two Mass Exodus EP's released recently have heavily featured on our street sounds mixes.As previously mentioned, multi-instrumentalist Diggs has been at the forefront of this years Jazz revival I believe, but he crosses over into soul and funk to make even the most Jazz-Phobic people appreciate his work. A major Label should snap this dude up quick time. You heard it here first!
7. Dwele - Greater than One
I have alot of love for Dwele. I remember first hearing those bootlegs and the self released "Rize"; And when he signed to Virgin and released the great LP "Subject" I couldnt help but be over the moon. Like Diggs, a multi instumentalist and composer with his own sound. Subsequent LP's have included great tunes but did not hit me as hard as those original LP's. So I put on Greater than One with a little trepidation, especially as i liked, but didn't love, first release "What profit". Then the two mins of "Greater than One" hit me, reminding me of those 2 min joints on his first releases."Going Leaving", in my opinion, ranks up there with his best work. Real lyrics around the break up of his relationship due to the fact that his partner wanted children, which scared him, is grown folks music. "Swank" starts off in Rare Groove/Stepper territory before moving into a mid tempo Dwele Groove. And then there's "Frankly my Dear" which is the best slow jam he has produced in a while with a soulful groove and lyrics like "I didn't know you had a man, till I checked your Facebook Page". A Real return to form.
6. Angie Stone - Rich Girl
And if we're talking return to form, then lets talk about Angie Stone. Angie, I love you, but I dont know who made you sit on a motorcycle for the cover of your last LP "Unexpected", or made you record tunes aimed for the pop market, but I didnt like it at all. Rich Girl, however, I like. Setting out your stall with the intro "Real Music", tracks such as the Mahogany Soul-like (My fave Angie LP BTW) "Do what you gotta do" and "Alright" remind us why we love you. And then there's "First Time" which is up there with your best work. Welcome back Angie, I missed you for a moment there.
5. Jarrard Anthony - Ready to Live
You want a great "Real R&B" LP? No autotune, euro pop influence, but still fun? This is your LP, trust me. Running off the blocks with a great mid tempo soul tune "Lucky Day", it follows it up with the Joe/Ryan Leslie sounding "Never see her again". Old school is represented with the shuffling "Something like love" and the Lonnie Liston Smith guesting cover of that Weldon Irvine classic "I Love you". "Cloud 10" is a stepper the Neo-Soul crowd loved back in the noughties; With other guests the like of Darien and Eric Roberson, you know what you've got here. A great modern R&B/Soul LP from a man whose released some good work before, but has finally made an LP to shout about.
4. The Sunburst Band - The Secret Life of Us
Joey Negro, founder and overseer of this congregation of great session musicians, has created another great addition to their celebration of all things 70's,80's and boogie. From the mashup of 80's electro (Sampling Davy DMX's "One for the treble") and Jazz stylings with "Jazz the DMX"; "The Secret Life of Us" recalls Chic; "opus de soul" brings the jazz funk/boogie Weekender sound and "Love One Another" is like a lost track on an early 80's rare groove LP. Added to this the fact that the Japanese Version unites the Band with one of my favorite's, THE REBIRTH, and you've got a mighty addition to this years best LP's.
3. Ralf Gum - Never Leaves you
A big name in the Soulful House scene, Ralf's been DJ'ing since the early 90's; As a producer, he's worked with notable artists as Monique Bingham, Robert Owens, Kenny Bobien & Caron Wheeler; He released his first artist album titled 'Uniting Music' in 2008 and this is his follow up; Tune after tune of that deep, soulful house that I love and always try to convince the "Soul-Heads" to get into. And how could they not, with vocals on here courtesy of the aforementioned trio plus others, its a real showcase of quality. The best Soulful House LP Ive heard this year.
2. Visioneers - Hipology
Marc Mac gives us a history lesson via his ensemble of musicians (similar to Joey Negro's Sunburst Band), showing us where Hip Hop came from musically, where it met 70's and 80's Soul and Jazz. "Come Play in the Milky Night" is like a Jazz Funk version of a Dilla Beat; Cover versions of "Shaft in Africa" (Sampled by Jay Z) and "Apache" (Sampled by many back in the day!) are respectful; "Luanne from Harlem" is Latin Soul at its finest, but where's the Hip Hop Connection? Check the old school beat that pops up around the 1:10 mark; "Swahililand" is a beautiful Jazz funk instramental and "Ice cream on my kicks" is head nodding funk. Best LP Cover of the year too! Essential purchase.
BONUS EP. Joanna Borromeo - Through the Dark EP
Cheat No.2 - I'm adding this EP in because its just so good. "Burn" is a mellow soul tune of the highest quality with great use of horns; "Through the Night" is one of the years best tracks. The sort of folky soul tune you get from the aforementioned Marc Mac in his 4Hero guise, its string and horn laden and reminicent of the great Minnie Ripperton; "Save my Soul" is almost Sade-like to these ears. All 5 tunes are of the highest quality and you need to seek this out!
and so on to the years best LP...........................
1.Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio
Led the pack early this year and just couldnt be beat. Momentum kept up by the Black Radio REMIXED EP released later in the year that im including in the no.1 spot (Cheat No.3). If your reading this blog, youve got this already. What can I say? Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Bilal helping to cover Bowie, Lalah Hathaway helping to cover Sade, Mos Def commenting on the state of Black Radio and Pete Rock remixing it for the EP, 9th Wonder and Phonte, Ledisi, Meshell Ndegeocello, Questlove, KING's ethereal vocals on "Move Love"; The talent on this great LP is unquestionable. And its all topped off with Roberts beautiful Keyboard playing and arrangements. LP of the year no doubt.
Picking a top 10 was no easy feat this year. I cant consciously post it without the following LP's getting a name check. These are all well worth a purchase (and your support too!)
DivaGeek - He said, She said
Just missing out on my top 10, Ben and Vula have been around for a while but this is their first LP; and its hot. Mixing soul, funk, and electronica with a uniquely UK bent, they have developed their own style; "Go Hard" is a head nodder; "He said, She said" rides on a galactic soul vibe thats all about synths and soulful vocals; "Cant take the heat" is too short, coming over like a D'angelo Joint; "Hangin' Wid U" sounds like 1980's THE SYSTEM; There's even a version of the much covered "I cant help it" by Mr Jackson that actually brings something new to the track. 15 tunes showcasing a real talent. Dont let this LP get slept on!
Gregory Porter - Be Good
The LP I'm having issues about not being in the top 10, a great traditional Jazz LP. Gregory's excellent vocals ride along uptempo Jazz "On my way to Harlem" to beautiful souful tunes like "When did you Learn". Raises your soul on each listen, a must purchase if your jazz inclined in the slightest.
and also check these great LP's out too:
Funkommunity - Chequered Thoughts (Out in Australia 2011, got a worlwide release in 2012)
Conya Doss - Pocketful of purpose
Darryl Reeves - Mercury
Elliott Yamin - Lets get to whats real
Princess Freesia - Rainbow Ride
Mint Condition - Music at the speed of light
Sy Smith - Fast and Curious
Teri Tobin - So Good to me
Incognito - Surreal
Roane Namuh & Reva Devito - Cloudshine
Joy Denalane - Maureen
Cody Chestnutt - Landing on a hundred
So, all in all, a quality year for those soulful LP's and I hope weve pointed you in the direction of some good music to listen to this year. That's the last of my review posts for the year, next week we will be looking to 2013. (And asking the question again.....WHERE'S THAT DAMN D'ANGELO LP???)
Grizz back soon, let me take this opportunity to wish you all happy holidays from the Soul Mixtape. Oh, and dont forget to download our top LP mix below!!
The Soul Mixtape's Top 10 LP's of 2012 PLUS AN EP