If there’s been a jazz-influenced, boom-bap space in your hip-hop listening lately, you might just find it more than adequately filled by new long player Groundworks – which finally sees Scaramento emcee Calcei team up with UK producer Pimpernel Jones, sometime of Herma Puma. As the name suggests, this project is a celebration of the DIY ethos of hip-hop tribute, of ‘building something fresh and original from the ground up’ while acknowledging its debts to the pioneers. It finds Jones laying down dope beats of the kind that at times recall those Blue Black turning out for Asheru on 2001’s Soon Come and at others Tone B Nimble’s work on All Natural’s Second Nature.
Calcei’s lyrics explore both personal and contemporary themes – most notably on My Phone in which he skewers the modern world’s addiction to mobile phones by hilariously adopting the persona of someone lyrically treating the phone as a lover. Also in the firing line are drugs (on Pharmaceuticals) which tackles America’s addiction to drugs – both those marketed by ‘big pharma’ and those pushed on the street and the rolling doomfest of the news on Turn Off The News. Guest Gregg Green appears on two tracks along with remixes of both also included in the set. The first of these is A Child which reflects on how no child is born prejudiced and yet the elite ensure the survival of the systems that make prejudice inevitable. The second is One For Dove, a De La Soul-esque tribute to the sorely missed Trugoy The Dove of De La Soul. All in all, a classy, thought-provoking affair.
(Out now HERE)