Lettermans

IGOR – Tyler, the Creator

Lake Como, Italy / Los Angeles, CA
2019

When Tyler first released Bastard in 2009, pop music sounded like the last thing he would ever try, and yet, IGOR is also the only logical outcome of his ten years of experimentation. The album is rich, blending Tyler's encyclopedic knowledge of jazz, soul, R&B, and electronic music into a luxurious pool of heartbreak and triumph. It's complex, and finally worthy of collaboration with the heroes that molded his musical identity: Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Santigold, La Roux, Cee Lo Green, and more.

Coochie – Ted Kamal

Harlem, NY
2018

Ted Kamal started making waves on SoundCloud in 2017 with a series of insane drum-and-bass remixes of Playboi Carti tracks. He occupies a bizarre intersection of UK garage music and whatever you want to call what Carti makes, which means he's obviously very niche, but if you're into either of those lanes, his music scratches an itch you didn't even know was there.

Clube da Esquina – Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges

Minas Gerais, Brazil
1972

Clube Da Esquina started off as a music collective in Minas Gerais, Brazil in the late 60s and early 70s. While the political undertones draw natural comparisons to Brazil's Tropicália movement, what makes the album unique is the ridiculously far-reaching set of musical references that it blends together. The album is at once Bossa Nova, psychedelic rock, and orchestral string music, darting in a million different directions, all beautiful. Without knowing a lick of Portuguese, the album is still gripping from start to finish, and one of the most incredible pieces of music to come out of a nation that can't stop dancing.

Indiamore – Chassol

Paris & India
2013

Chassol – a jazz pianist from Paris – travels to India to record the sounds of Varanasi, Delhi, and Calcutta among other cities. Much of Indiamore drifts along with field recordings of muffled conversations and prayers, setting the stage for Chassol's speciality in "speech harmonization" – a technique where he matches a note to each syllable pronounced in the recordings. It finds elements of musicality in every day conversation, blowing them up into exaggerated and colorful bursts of free-wheeling jazz.

Confessions, Pt. III – BADBADNOTGOOD

Toronto, Canada
2017

With production credits for Kendrick, Earl, and Snoop, it feels like BADBADNOTGOOD have garnered more of a reputation as instrumentally savvy rap producers than as legitimate jazz musicians in their own right. For whatever reason, "Confessions, Pt. III" didn't make their last album, but it features a whirlwind of a solo from legendary saxophonist Collin Stetson. The song feels restless, at times making you wonder how Stetson even manages to breathe throughout his 7-minute appearance.

See Line Woman – Songstress

Detroit, MI
1997

Coming from more of a rap and soul music background, the Nina Simone sample here showed me a fusion of worlds that I never knew existed... This was definitely one of the first songs that got me into house music back when I started going down rabbit holes on YouTube. It all started with the guys from Detroit: Omar S, Kerri Chandler, Norm Talley, Andrés, etc. These guys were able to take my favorite Motown textures and recontextualize them in a way that I didn't know was possible. On "See Line Woman" in particular, Kerri Chandler and Jerome Sydenham repackage the percussion and vocals from Nina Simone's 1964 original into some of the most tribal dance music I've ever heard. Sampling 30-year old records is obviously nothing new, but there's something futuristic and sophisticated about the way they pair the vocals and drums with the synths here. Insane record, all 7 minutes of it.

Smoke (Remix) – Blood Orange, Yves Tumor, & Ian Isiah

London, UK / Knoxville, TN / Flatbush, NYC
2018

I'll admit that I was really late on Blood Orange. It wasn't until Negro Swan that I gave him a spin, and even then it was only because of the Project Pat feature. I've never been too keen on the whole "bedroom pop" thing, but the album somehow grew into one of my favorites of 2018... There's a soothing quality to his music you don't find in most crossover artists. You know, it's just rare to find someone that slots in seamlessly with guys like Tyler and Rocky, but also with Yves Tumor. The original "Smoke" was a great example of how he could make an accessible pop song but twist your ear by making you wait a few minutes to get to the loop. For the remix, he recruits Tumor, who layers his own scratchy vocals over chopped up patois samples. It's just a crazy, crazy amalgamation of references and textures that no one else could even try to imitate.

Deeper Than Rap – Rick Ross

Miami, FL
2009

One of the things that's started to make me feel old as a music fan is having to defend Rick Ross... Kids these days are just not up on his catalog. From 2006 - 2012 dude basically lead the charge for mafioso rap with some of the most outrageously expensive-sounding music of our time. Between Port of Miami and Rich Forever, I imagine every beat cost north of $1 million. It's funny – I recently went through some old kanyeuniversecity archives and saw a post where 'Ye said Deeper Than Rap was one of the only rap albums he felt comfortable playing in his apartment, and it kinda makes sense. Ross's full orchestra and horn ensemble probably go with Italian marble. Kanye himself actually stops by on the album in full "Louis Vuitton Don" mode, dropping one of the most flexed-up verses of his career. Although Ross is borderline delusional in his commitment to this whole kingpin fantasy, it brings out the absolute best in his ear for beats and features.

Limp Biscuit Anthem – Gerry Read

Suffolk, UK
2015

I know very little of Gerry Read, but I do know that he's affiliated with the "weird house" movement and that I'm very interested. If I wanted any confirmation that he was weird enough, "Limp Biscuit Anthem" was it. You could maybe get away with playing this on a dance floor, but the song doesn't initially feel designed for it... It kicks off with – no joke – a Tommy Wright III sample and other classic Memphis sounds you might recognize from the latest A$AP Rocky single (yeah, the babushka one). About halfway in, it somehow twists into an absolutely thumping house track. I've always been a fan of "outsider" music, so I immediately took to how rule-breaking the song felt. Needless to say, I'm excited to check out the rest of Read's catalog. Shoutout Pampa Records too.

Dawn Chorus – Jacques Greene

Montréal, Canada
2019

Two friends from two different parts of my life texted me within hours of each other about "the new Jacques Greene". I hadn't even heard of him, but straight from the first listen, the album is impossibly good... I normally try and keep my volume below a certain level but caught my phone on max by the time I reached "To Love", which is potentially my favorite single of the year. The album is hard to pin down. At first glance "House" may be the most appropriate label, but Greene incorporates elements of UK Garage, R&B, and whatever you want to call what Burial makes. Sometimes it's subdued, but for the most part it's exceptionally expressive dance music.

Gol Pesar – Shayan Shafii

London, UK
2019

The story behind this mix is that my grandma left me a voicemail on Telegram while I was grabbing lunch at work. It had been a year since my last mix and I was missing the inspiration to start another; this was it. I was in an interesting pocket at that time, listening to a lot of Blood Orange, Rezzett, and other London artists while also revisiting some Madlib tapes from my early college years. I'd always felt like there was a common thread between all of my favorite music, regardless of the sound, year, or geography. With this mix, I wanted to highlight that commonality while presenting everything through a film-like arc. If you like this, you should also check out Virgil and Benji B's mixes for the Off-White runway shows.

Surrender – Bendik Giske

Oslo, Norway / Berlin, Germany
2019

Bendik Giske is a saxophonist, and his album, Surrender, features pretty much nothing but him and his saxophone. He made the album by putting tiny microphones all over his body to capture the sound of him exerting his breath into the sax. Sounds weird, but the effect is actually incredible. In a way, you can hear him in the same way that you hear the instrument; they work as two different machines, but come together to make a single body of pulsing, ambient jazz music. The project was inspired by a trip to Berghain, which is unexpectedly noticeable for an album dominated by a single horn instrument.

Major Payne – Big Baby Scumbag

Tampa, FL
2018

My friend put me on to Big Baby Scumbag a few months ago with the "Dale Earnhardt" video. Being from the South myself, that combo of ATVs, Waffle House, NASCAR, and Natty Light definitely hit home. I checked back in on him recently and found "Major Payne" – another banger, this time featuring a No Limit-style album cover and a video with #TYBG spray painted on an abandoned truck. Immediately, I'm a fan. He kinda sounds like Young Dolph but mixed with Lil B (see: "Pimp C Freestyle") and the general foolery that comes with being from Awful Records.

This is What I'm Going Through – Pedro & Jenna Camille

Porto, Portugal / Washington DC, USA
2018

Pedro is a breakbeat and house producer from Porto, Portugal, who cites guys like Theo Parrish as among his biggest influences. His solo music is a bit hard to find outside of this release, but of what's out there, it all falls into this intoxicating swirl of jazz, soul, R&B, and breakbeat. Jenna Camille – a soulful R&B vocalist from the DC area – seems like an unlikely pairing just off distance alone, but she fits the production style perfectly. "Float", the 2nd track on the EP, feels like a perfect actualization of their vision. The drum pattern picking up towards the end of the track is a serious highlight.

Janet – M.T. Hadley

London, UK
2016

I found "Janet" while digging through Frank's blonded radio catalog about 2 years too late. It was one of the tracks I just couldn't let finish – there's something about that synth. It has that same crackling feeling that a lot of music from Jai Paul's camp has; on one hand the song feels mysterious and reflective, but on the other hand it has this strong undercurrent that keeps it from feeling... soft. Turns out Hadley does have a loose affiliation with not only the Paul Institute, but also Vegyn, who Frank linked up with in London between albums. Cool group of people.