It is an album Pete Marriott has promised to make for years, always talking about putting together this and that, bringing different rappers and singers together but never quite making it to the point where he felt happy to put his stamp approval on it as a whole. After releasing a small handful of songs on an individual basis, the stamp of approval has made itself known and he is calling it #REALHIPHOP (The BRKLYN Collection). This is not only Marriott’s brand new album, but it is a statement of what he feels is hip-hop as it is and should be, the type of music that moved a generation and a world to become what it is today.
With contributions from Jermiside, Mr. Man, Da’ Lord Supreme, DVS Jackson Esq., #REALHIPHOP may sound like a throwback at first, especially with the opening song that sounds like someone went into the archives and pulled out an unnoticed gem. When things get kicking with “Bring It On Right”, featuring Otomatik, there’s a certain feel and vibe that is sensed, you know it’s going to feel good and you do not doubt the incoming force that is headed to the ears. You hear the bumping beats, the meditative drone of what sounds like a combination of vocals and synths, the twisted mix of beat textures that show Marriott’s music is not just about one thing or the other, it’s about everything and putting in your all and going for broke, all your effort into what’s good because the bad is not acceptable. Then there’s “Nice Redux”, which immediately reminded me of Too Poetic/Grym Reapera and Lakim Shabazz with the kind of lyrical flow that takes me back to 1989 and before, when being rhythmic was not just understanding the beat but understanding vocal tonality and how that could tell a story as well. You might hear some keyboards that may remind you of Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” but the madness being heard is all Marriott, and every layer just sounds… right.
It’s the kind of album that understands its influences and rather than pay tribute to them, you can say this is just a continuation of the feelings originally felt, where you may have heard a horn sample, a blend of vocals, or just the right combination of drums and percussion that made you go “wow, this takes me back” or “this feels like the goodness of what this life has to offer”. There is nothing like a verse, a chorus, or a passage in a song that makes you forget about the bad times, and #REALHIPHOP is very much a good time album, even when you hear metaphors about murdering fraudulent rappers with killer rhymes.
While Marriott has organized an album that is meant to capture a certain feeling, it is not about being stuck in one corner or the other. Just as certain albums are timestamps of what was going on, #REALHIPHOP comes off like a mirror to let people know what they left behind and why the music is not something you should ever forget. As Sly Stone once said, music “is not a fashion in the first place, it is a feeling”, and while a feeling or vibe is not something you can hold, it is something that is understood and must be shared, even if describing it may seem difficult at first. The album is very much a showcase of the production and musicianship Marriott has done for decades, and whether it’s driving down a gritty street at 4am or watching a family picnic on a Sunday afternoon, those things are captured because they are not only understood, but is translated as best as possible within the music heard in these thirteen songs. For those who are doubters, #REALHIPHOP is the proof you never thought would come to fruition, and the proof sounds quite nice.