Staff review, 14 August 2017
Amidst the static and partially tuned sounds of a radio switching between Radio Sunrise 20 years ago and boom bap hip-hop we hear children beseeching an adult for a story.... 'okay, okay' she responds, 1,2,3... and the story begins. But this is no ordinary story, this is the unique tale told via a beat tape, a tapestry of sound designed to capture recollections of a possibly real, possibly imagined youth. The cousin of Bollywood actor Nasser 'Shaboo' Bharwani, takes inspiration from his musical uncle and determines to create his own musical legacy. 20 years later the Darkhouse Family and Don Leisure create their legacy - presenting us with Shaboo.
Fans of Madlib's Beat Konducta series of albums will adore this. Taking the beat tape format (a series of short beat sketches interspersed with samples & ideas) and adding a personal narrative to it - Shaboo is a joy to listen to. The cover image is suggestive of what is found within, taking the legend of Shaboo and his Bollywood career and building on that, however this isn't just a lame series of looped beats with a bit of sitar and Bollywood dialogue stuck over the top. This album reflects a cross-cultural coming of age, a hip hop obsessive who channels golden era beats, taking the jazz and funk grooves of the likes of Dorothy Ashby and Roy Ayers and having those sounds bent through the prism of his parents radio listening habits.
Over 25 tracks we hear, heavy funk breaks, jazz samples, touches of Bollywood disco, 80's boogie, sitar grooves and of course hip hop beats, all stitched together into a continuous flow linked with radio jingles, movie dialogue (I've no idea if created for this album, or if genuine samples). There are moments where the samples just bring you out in a wide grin - such as the advert for a Southall estate agents ate the end of the track 'Capricorns'. I thought the sample might wear thin as entertainment, but I must have listened to this album 15 times since buying it and the way the sample works with the music means that unlike some 'humorous' samples this one continues to work.
The way this album takes the briefest snippets of records we all know well (such as Chapter 3 by Joe Gibbs) on Morning Dub, creates an immediate familiarity and accessibility to the record. However by using these hooks sparingly (a few seconds at a time) and quickly moving into fresh beats and melodies you keep interested, the accessibility the samples bring drawing you in, rather than leaving you with a 'heard it all before' feeling. This isn't revolutionary - as mentioned this falls into similar territory to Madlib, Onra's Chinoiseries album and the production work of MF Doom - however that isn't bad company to be in.
I have revelled in the playfulness, imagination and fantastic grooves on this record, I would suggest that you too, check out the legacy of Shaboo.