Blue Lab Beats have long been regarded as a pivotal force in UK music. Joining the dots between boom-bap hip-hop and avant jazz, afrobeat’s percussive attack and R&B lyricism, the pair’s slim but riveting catalogue is comprised of endless questions, with the production team pulling apart standard tropes to inject fresh innovation.
‘Motherland Journey’ expands this creative cosmos still further, the duo’s broadest statement yet and one that stands as an inspired musical mosaic. ‘Labels’ is an early highlight, matching Kofi Stone’s succinct bars to dulcet vocals from Tiana Major9. ‘Gotta Go Fast’ is a stellar collaboration, the phenomenal drumming underpinning that gorgeous delivery from Poppy Daniels.
A record packed with stellar peaks, ‘Motherland Journey’ can move from the super-smooth afrobeats-fuelled funk of ‘Sensual Loving’ through to the stunning, dubby neo-soul of the Ego Ella May enhanced ‘Slow Down’. While it’s undoubtedly broad, the album also works as a narrative, with the neat use of an interlude to suggest a break in the creative velocity, splitting the album into two sides.
Ending with the soulful ‘Real Good’, Blue Lab Beats conjure a magical vocal from Jerome Thomas, pinning it against low slung hip-hop beats and breathy jazz horns. A sign of the renewed collective conversations happening around London, it’s a sign that the city – much like Blue Lab Beats – remains a communal experience.
Words: Robin Murray
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Link to the source article – https://www.clashmusic.com/reviews/blue-lab-beats-motherland-journey