Chokeules delivers 14 tracks of boom-bap on his sophomore album Stay Up.
Alongside Savilion and Timbuktu, Chokeules completes the trio of artists that form Swamp Thing, a hip-hop collaboration that pays tribute to sci-fi and horror B-movies of a bygone age. But it’s not just the subject matter that permeates Swamp Thing’s releases that makes them one of my favourite groups, it’s the blend of old-school beats mixed with clever sampling and a sense of fun. Take Reefer Vendetta for example, probably my favourite track from Swamp Thing’s 2012 release Creature Feature. Dark undertones in the lyrics are offset by a cheeky delivery with infectious beats and a killer hook.
That feel-good vibe and musical influence from those albums hit me full in the face from the moment I hit play on Chokeules new album Stay Up, and I guess it’s not surprising when you discover that the opening track Welcome is produced by fellow Swamp Thing Timbuktu. A whimsical sample literally welcomes you to the release with a grainy track, punchy beats, a wandering bassline and timely cuts supplied by DJiRATE.
Chokules’ delivery is easy on the ear, tinged with humour and presented in a way that makes it sound like the recording process was a lot of fun. Listen closely to the lyrics of track two, Vertbatim, and you’ll discover a nod to the titular character of Timbuktu’s recent release How Huge: The Legend Of Howard Huge. I love that tight-knit community feel.
With Savilion taking over production duties on the first single and video from Stay Up, Anonymous Tip, the feel heads a little more laid back before the wandering bass returns on Sole People, a personal favourite for me.
With four different producers involved there’s always a danger that the release could wind up more than a little disjointed, and although there is a clear difference in sound between the work of each one, the whole album flows nicely as a body of work. In-part it’s thanks to the almost ever-present cuts from DJiRATE (Though Uncle Fester lends a hand too), but more prominently, I suspect, due to the working relationship already in existence between Timbuktu and Savilion who between them handle production duties on the majority of the album.
Highlights include Electric Jesus a tribute to Nikola Tesla that rates the futurist inventor over Thomas Edison. Leftorium, a bouncy affair with guest vocals coming from Wordburglar, More or Les and Mighty Rhino and 40 Year Old Vegan which passes tongue-in-cheek commentary on the typical questioning a vegan might experience. Ghettosocks lends vocals alongside Savilion and Timbuktu on Booze with D-Sisiv adding skills to the album closer Bandwagons.
Although a little short in length Stay Up is a worthy addition to the music collection of anyone that digs the Canadian hip-hop scene right now or enjoys a modern take on a classic boom-bap sound. When sent a review copy of any album I have a moral obligation to give it at least the once over, Stay Up has made my commute playlist virtually every day for the last week as well as accompanying me on my Sunday morning run.
Stay Up is available to purchase from the Hand Solo Records bandcamp page right now as a digital download for $8 or for a dollar more you can have a physical copy to bump in the car. The album is released tomorrow on the 11th of July.