Rating: With regard to music, February is the month that just keeps on giving this year and here’s yet more dope in the form of the release of Atlanta-based producer Squashy Nice’s solo LP All The Way. Arguably re-release would be the more accurate term since it transpires that this actually came through (somewhat below the radar) on Loretta Records last year in both digital and cassette formats. Cassette!? Well, as Nice says himself, “It’s the instrumental hip-hop album I’ve strived to produce since I made my first pause-tapes over 25 years ago,”. Ok – we’ll forgive him use of the devil’s own format since it clearly holds a strong emotional connection. More importantly, if he’s had a quarter of a century to make it, it better be good, right? Happily, it is.
More usually heard in the company of DJ T-Rock, Nice’s solo effort gets a 2018 release on We Grow Wax – a label associated with a typically downtempo output. And while there is (just) critical mass of downtempo bumps on this, that is far from the whole picture and our man is almost as liable to have you top-rock as head-nod. From the get-go the name of the game is cut-n-paste though. The opener and title track for example stitches together a sample of Bruce & Vlady’s The Reality, a reading of Charles Bukowski’s Roll The Dice by Tom O’Bedlam (ubiquitous Youtube literary narrator – sounds a bit like Eeyore but more depressed) and a vocal snippet I can’t place that sounds suspiciously like it was culled from a late 60s/ early 70s AOR track. Next cut, The Overture, on the other hand crafts a dope beat out of what sounds like soundtrack composer’s idea of a medieval fanfare and some handy Greg Nice snippets while Keep On Walkin strolls along the path of chipmunk soul, 85 bpm boom-bap style. So far so downtempo. The first sign that there’s anything on here to move the feet is the 111 bpm jazz funk-underpinned Whole World. The real b-boy banger though is The Dirt one of the album’s two crowning glories which edits Sandie Shaw’s already funked-up cover of the Oliver! musical number Reviewing The Situation, properly gives it some percussive heft and bottom end and then chops it up like a bastard. No, really. Two tracks later and you get the other standout in what is already an extremely solid fifteen track set – From The Heart – a heartwarming bump which steals Tammy Lucas’s hook from ATCQ’s 1nce Again (plus a Phife Dawg snippet from the same track) and pitches these into the blender with a female vocal (semi)cover of country standard But You Know I Love You. Well – like Bukowski said, “If you’re going to try, go all the way.”
(Out now on We Grow Wax)