erasing clouds

Sound Providers, An Evening With the Sound Providers

reviewed by dave heaton

The liner notes to An Evening With the Sound Providers tell listeners not to call the album retro: "This is today's music." In a way that statement is both true and disingenuous. The Sound Providers' approach to music is without a doubt nostalgic for a time in hip-hop's past - they take the jazz-soul style some groups dabbled with in the 90s (think Digable Planets, The Low End Theory, Pete Rock) and run with it. But in their hands that style is casually reinvented, not through any overt experimentation but just through how effortlessly they dive headlong into it and how consistently alluring and fresh their end results are.

An Evening With... is literally formatted as if you're spending an evening in a nightclub, hanging out and grooving to the music of the Sound Providers and their friends. A host comes up on stage every once in a while to introduce guest MCs, and in between the guests the Sound Providers (the duo of Jay and Soulo) offer stark instrumentals that are just as captivating as the tracks they create when there's someone on the mic.

If An Evening With were a completely instrumental affair it would be phenomenal, but the disc has 5 tracks featuring guest MCs (plus one with Soulo on the mic and a bonus remix of one of the guest tracks), and all of them are fantastic, even the two MCs who I wasn't familiar with (Wee Bee Folish and Maspyke). Little Brother show why everybody loves them these days during "Braggin & Boasting," a cautionary tale about not letting celebrity go to your head which has a great jazz guitar part and a humorous ending, where they take the chorus's Billy Ocean reference ("rappers always be braggin and boastin/but then they fall off like Billy Ocean") as an excuse to blend in pieces of Billy Ocean's hits of yesteryear. Asheru sounds right at home on "For Old Time's Sake," a flute-and-vibes-laced track about staying in touch with the roots of hip-hop. And The Procussions damn near steal the show with their appearance on "5 Minutes"; it helps that they're on a killer jazzed-up track that shows off their rhyming abilities better than most of their own tracks (which production-wise I generally find to be less distinctive). An Evening With the Sound Providers is an uplifting, exciting record from a duo that digs the jazz/hip-hop mergers from the past but is ready to take that style to a whole new level.

{ABB Records:}

Issue 22, April 2004

this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2005 erasing clouds