Marc Mac of UK electronic pioneers 4hero has made a career out of mixing the future of music with its roots. So, with 4hero (most famous for drum & bass), he made a note for note cover of Minnie Ripperton’s soul classic Les Fleurs. And now, with his Visioneers project, he’s made an album which pays respect to the best of jazz & hip hop and merges the two genres effortlessly.
The album, Dirty Old Hip Hop, is full of lazy, funky covers of hip hop classics like Nas’ The World Is Yours & the tracks that inspired them, such as Isaac Hayes’ Ike’s Mood 1. But the stand out track is a cover of Runnin’, originally by West Coast hip hop band The Pharcyde.
The Pharcyde were an act who eschewed the pimps & hos attitude of their contemporaries for music & lyrics that could be both amusing and deadly serious. Their breakout track Ya Mama extended the old dissin’ competitions of their youth to ridiculous levels (Ya mama got a glass eye with the fish in it), whilst Runnin’ (off of lost classic Labcabincalifornia) talked of how to stand up for yourself without being dragged into the macho world of so much hip hop. And all accompanied by a lovely gentle melody and some great beats.
Marc Mac strips out all of the lyrics of Runnin’, apart from the chorus (Can’t keep runnin’ away) and replaces the samples and beats with live instrumentation and drums. What you end up with is a beautiful, haunting (almost) instrumental track that sounds more forward thinking than half the hip hop being released today. And as it was released in 2006, but I’m only just getting to grips with it now, I can probably nominate Dirty Old Hip Hop by Marc Mac & The Visioneers as my Ohmega Watts for 2007!