From the sonic montage of voices reverberating the title of Mello Music Group’s The 1978ers (yU and Slimkat) newest project People of Today to start the album, one of many truths become clear about this body of work – it is music made to be ingested by the modern populace keen to detail oriented hip-hop. Instrumentation is a cornerstone of the entire audible identity that resulted in the head of MMG Michael Tolle calling it a top 5 project the label has offered – ever. A lot of that has to do with accents from live instruments as organic as bongos and xylophones, but also has everything to do with how the duo of yU and Slim manipulated the textures into workable, every flowing tracks that only find division in their titles labeled with Acts. As the album rides through the first movements, a volatile barrage of bars land on laid back Southern Funk masterfully laced with Andrew Velez’s jazz horns and porno organ effects on the cut “In The Way.”
Fast forward to the soul-laced boom bap of “U Know How It Iz” and the deep seated real talk lyricism starts to flower over casual snares and piano loops. Although not on that track, the keys later come in the form of live organ compliments of Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson of The Foreign Exchange on “Sacrilegious,” a pulsing cut that offers a hook so deep it touches on gospel undertones in order to thematically question [religious] authority. This is not the only well placed instance of guests laying down textures that elevate the tracks from good to great. Ben Jackson’s flawless trombone work on “Without A Clue” is proper proof of this as well. Instruments ever important, the use of scratching, samples, and other classic hip-hop mainstays are also properly interjected throughout with a well practiced touch. yU’s recent work with mastermind Oddisee on the latest Diamond District album March On Washington seems to seep through here more than any other facets of the project.
Storytelling finds its place all over this record as well, but strikes the hardest on “Tryin’ Then Yall Say,” a two verse track that relays stories of predictable violence that exposes the ease with which we are desensitized to violations of humanity from friend and foe. This type of narrative-based introspection trails through the calming live kalimba from yU on “Develop” and its beat poetry reprise “Post Develop (Where Are We Going),” but all the organic, polished, vocal and lyrical elements from the entire album swirl on “Far,” truly a symbol of next level artistry that yU and Slimkat have managed to reach by matching wits in the studio. Their overt objective of tapping into realistic topical content that leans towards positivity at its core is cleverly obvious here the most. As the track fades out, the line “each day, each day, we say, thank god” segues into a beautiful choral wash that would only see placement from a team like The 1978ers.
Chiefer Adam // @theadamesmith