Latest from Sub-Bombin Records: Mr. Complex

Just like some people solely sing in the shower, I’m one who primarily listens to hip hop when I’m driving. There’s something about driving around to J Dilla’s Pandora station that hits me just right. Recently, at the 4th Annual Beat*Shot Spins for J-Dilla (dubbed Dilla Break-A-Dawn!) I picked up an advance copy of Mr. Complex’s new 12″ release courtesy of local label Sub-Bombin. Since then, thanks to the digital availability of the tracks via a special edition USB accompanying the release, I’ve been driving around with Mr. Complex for the past couple of weeks.

The album was officially released on Sub-Bombin last Tuesday on Valentine’s Day (sweetness intended!). “Swiss Chocolate Cake” is available locally at Divinyl Revolution in Saratoga Springs, as well as online at Fat Beats.

KAB picks: Holy Smokes, I Wanna Rock, How to Write a Rhyme and Flying High.

Mr. Complex, the legendary emcee from Queens, has been in the game for over a decade and was a key player in driving the underground hip hop scene in NYC in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Over the span of his career, he has worked with the likes of DJ Spinna, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Pharoahe Monch, (with whom he performed “Simon Says on the television show, “The Source Sound Lab). He has also worked with influential artists like De La Soul, Mos Def, Masta Ace, and Common to name a few. With several albums under his belt as a solo artist, and two albums with group Polyrhythm Addicts, this next release is yet another chapter; in fact the first addition to his discography in eight years.

The album, titled, “Swiss Chocolate Cake,” was recorded back in 2004 in Switzerland, and the music video for the single “Holy Smokes” was produced by Phil Pro of Switzerland and directed by Complex himself. It fell into the sights of Sub-Bombin years later and gave Complex a way to have his music revived and released in a modern, forward-thinking way. Sub-Bombin releases the music in both the traditional format of vinyl and a digital USB, providing the listener with the best of both worlds.

Like with much hip hop that I find myself listening to, I don’t get sick of playing it on loop and the more that I listen to it, the more I like it. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not a genre I’m remotely well-versed in but as far as this record goes, I’d say it has a classic hip hop feel to it and the production from top to bottom is immaculate.

This isn’t a cut-and-dry mash-up of quick licks and fast rhymes; it’s got passion in its deviations in tempo and in its playful-but-still-serious vocal stylings. Its assortment of downtempo beats balances out the record with snippets of soul, occasional subtle ambience, appropriate drum kicks and tastes of funk. Female vocals and story-telling lyricism are also sprinkled on some tracks providing additional layering and dynamism.

Each track is completely different from the one prior and yet there still is a coherent flavor of Complex present in each, making it evident this isn’t Complex’s first walk around the park. This is 100% a record to vibe and drive to.

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