Over the last twelve months we’ve been slowly drip fed tracks produced by French producer duo, The Funk League. These mellifluous jazz charged tracks boasted an impressive list of vocal talents and instantly had us pining for a full release. Now, after a lengthy wait, their debut album “Funky As Usual” has finally seen the light of day. The outcome? Disheartened is probably too harsh, but after letting the anticipation build for so long, it’s apt as most of the album’s peaks come in those same tracks we were bumping a year ago.
Hugo and the Soulbrother Suspect are fantastic crate digging boom-bap producers, so let’s give credit where it’s due. Robust, hard-hitting drums accompany deep sounding hooks filled with grainy piano & trumpet 45s with the duo providing their own insight through scratching of choice golden age hip-hop tracks. Then you’ve got a brilliantly curated guestlist with Lesson Six favourites, Andy Cooper (Ugly Duckling), Speech Defect & a rare apparence by Toronto’s Abdominal being the ones that first jumped out. However, it’s the excellent features by veterans Diamond D, Sadat X (Brand Nubian) & chiefly, Large Professor, that take the plaudits here.
Keep my rhythm intact & exact, let my words slap when I’m on the attack with the boom boom bap / But then I can make it slow and let, the, funk, flow / You understand? It’s all about diversity / So come and enroll at Andy Cooper University
Large Professor’s “Through The Good & Bad” might twice on the album, but it doesn’t feel like an echo designed to pad out the LP some. That’s mainly down in part to The Funk League’s contrasting production on both cuts, but it’s also down to the Professor’s story telling technique that makes this soar above the regular troubled relationship fare. The album then finishes off with a hark back to The Funk League’s roots, in the form of a soulful track that feels more on par with their labelmates at Favorite Recordings.
But all in all “Funky As Usual” might not appear especially groundbreaking, and to be honest it’s nothing especially new. It sticks too close to the tried and tested to be called otherwise & half of this release in particular was heard nearly a year ago. However, great sounding boom-bap albums from a producer outfit are few and far between, and this is the best we’ve heard since DJ Format’s sophomore release back in 2005. Put simply The Funk League get everything right, and it’s hard to hate its infectious use of samples and the resounding quality of artist features. All we need, is more of it.
The Funk League’s debut album “Funky As Usual” was released on the 30th of January 2011 and is available on iTunes now.