Makaya McCraven is a beat scientist. The Chicago-based musician has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative and exciting sounds of the last couple of years, and his new project Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) is a sublime body of work, collaborating with some of the most talented musicians from London. Combining heavy, hip-hop inspired production and elements of Chicago Footwork with the dense and spiritual side to the booming London jazz scene.
It was recorded live at Total Refreshment Centre, London on the 18 & 19 October 2017, and mixed a couple of days later. You can feel the energy of the live recordings, with occasional cheers and celebrations heard after a crazy part was recorded. There is so much to love about this mixtape. From the bass-heavy compositions that include Dilla-like drums that are just heavy and soul touching, the manic key arrangements that put you in a meditative state and the saxophone leads that just capture so much passion, to the live energy you can hear from the music itself. Every track has its own identity and vibe, and it’s impossible not to want to bob your head or close your eyes and immerse yourself in the rich textures displayed by the incredible musicians. Whether we’re talking about the deep, bass-heavy rhythms of “Ox Tales” with Makaya McCraven, Joe Armon-Jones, Theon Cross and Nubya Garcia or Emma-Jean Thackray’s sublime composition on “Too Shy,” there is so much diversity and energy throughout this album. So many grooves, so many incredible recordings.
In addition to Joe Armon-Jones, Nubya Garcia, Theon Cross and Emma-Jean Thackray, the mixtape features compositions from LeFTO, Earl Jeffers and Don Leisure from Darkhouse Family, Kamaal Williams, Ben LaMar Gay, Emma-Jean Thackray, Quiet Dawn, Soweto Kinch and Lexus Blondin from Total Refreshment Centre.
I don’t want to use too many superlatives and oversell this project, but this really is another gem that should be embraced by the London music community, and it is an effortless and beautiful marriage between the sound here and the heavy hip-hop and footwork vibe of Chicago. A must-listen.
You can listen to Makaya McCraven’s Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) below via Bandcamp. Make sure you support this project in any way you can. Released via Chicago’s International Anthem label.