While most recent Dean Blunt & Hype Williams-related projects feature Blunt’s gruff voice and confrontational persona front and center, Hotep finds Blunt comfortably zooted in the producer’s chair instead, directing an ensemble of some of LA’s finest studio musicians at the freshly minted Stones Throw Studios in East L.A. This predominantly instrumental session conjures jazzy hip-hop musack and UPN sitcom neo-soul vibes, sporting a cheshire grin but purely genuine at the same time. Despite the ace performances of the session players, the record retains a playful naïveté, no doubt thanks to Dean’s turns on keyboard and drums - instruments which he can hold his own on but probably hasn’t practiced in years... but that’s part of the charm. Imagine your own wide-eyed early Fruity Loops experiments reinterpreted by Ryan Leslie and King Krule. Or the sort of outsider funk obscurities PPU digs up. Jennah Bell & Akua’s gorgeous vocals show up about halfway through (“Fake Loathe,” “Hush Money,” the Isleys-esque “Jenna’s Interlude”), lending a remarkably mature aura to a record that is otherwise childlike and playful (we mean that in the best way possible). After quietly surfacing on YouTube and racking up a small legion of sworn devotees, this bafflingly alluring record has finally been made available on vinyl courtesy of Benji B’s Deviation imprint, which is weird, but also sorta makes sense. Highly recommended.
- music label: Deviation 2017
reviewed by william, shotgun sprayer 02/2018
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