Sure, we’ve been listening to this album for the best part of six months now (as I’m sure you have too), but like a fine wine these things need time to breath and develop for their true flavour to come through.
But before we get into our thoughts on what for us has been the stand out album of 2016, let us take you back five years, to the first introduction BADBADNOTGOOD gave the wider world to their musical stylings.
United by their passion for hip-hop, they felt it their duty to interpret some of their favourites from the scene in a live jazz performance titled ‘The Odd Future Sessions Part 1″ (incidentally they used to be called the Odd Trio, but not for long). This led to team ups with OFWKTA’s Tyler, The Creator on some heavily viewed YouTube action and later a full album (‘Sour Soul’) with Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah.
In between their role as the go to backing band for the hip-hop industry, they have compiled four albums on their own, very helpfully titled with sequential Roman numerals so you can easily follow their progression.
We’ve heard on more than one occasion others exclaiming that ‘IV’ is the “commercial” breakthrough for the band, helped in part by tracks featuring Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, fellow Canadian (actually originally Haitian), soul-electronic maestro KAYTRANADA amongst others. We view it more as the public finally awakening to a talent and sound that they just hadn’t come to understand yet.
Even after half a year living with the album, we are not singing along with every track (well there aren’t lyrics on most of them so how would we). The experience is somewhat developmental instead. With each new spin we identify another feature in a song, a new instrument nestled at the back left of the mix behind a speaker that we’d not noticed before. All of this leads to an enhancement of our enjoyment. It’s as if the album is transforming over time by itself, which of course it’s not, but that’s certainly a sign to us of the strength of their latest offering.
‘IV’ evidences a versatility that many who have listened to BBNG before may not have appreciated was there. The jazz stylings and strength of instrumentation have certainly not disappeared though, particularly not on the title track which appears as a sonic eruption after the more placid ‘Chompy’s Paradise’. The vocal features on ‘Time Moves Slow’, ‘Hyssop of Love’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ give the album points of access that were not previously available, and will undoubtably open the door to more collabs in the future. The blend is just right on this album and sets a template for further future success.
Pop a few logs on the fire, settle in to the wing back and rap yourself in a blanket. Listen deep and see if you can find something more in this album than you have before. It’s there to be savoured.