To briefly comment on the origins of this project, it pays a tribute to the benefits of social networking. The two producers were able to connect through social networking. Upon hearing each other’s work on the internet, they agreed to work toward completing a collaborative project.
Read the full bio on the project on www.astromegamusic.com/astrobee/
Old To The New – Ryan Proctor’s Beats, Rhymes & Hip-Hop Nostalgia
The connection between Hip-Hop and jazz is longstanding. From Bob James breaks being spun at old-school block parties, to the low end theories of A Tribe Called Quest and the hardcore compositions of Gang Starr, the many styles and sounds of jazz can clearly be seen and heard throughout Hip-Hop’s history, from the culture’s foundation years, to the 90s golden-era and on to the present day.
Looking to show their own appreciation for the close relationship between be-bop and boom-bap is the duo AstroBee, consisting of Canada-based producer Astro Mega and NY wordsmith Bumblebee.
With both individuals having already gained underground notoriety on their own merits (Mega through his work with Canadian groups Class Of 93 / GrindHouse Project and Bee with his own releases), the pair display a shared creative chemistry throughout “Solar Excursions” that could easily lead the uninitiated to believe they’d been working together for years.
The opening “Intro” clearly sets the tone for what’s to come on this album, with a butter-soft female voice inviting listeners to “enjoy the smooth sounds of AstroBee” amidst hazy horns and swirling keys.
The stuttering drums of “Initial Growth” follow, with Bumblebee looking to the past to “find (his) identity”, referring to a time when “Old heads loved Louis, Not Louis Vuitton, But Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad”, before linking the origins of jazz to the terrible suffering endured during slavery, with the genre being described in its purest form as being “the rhythm of the crack of the whip.”
The hypnotic “Twinkle In Her Eye” finds Astro Mega mixing mellow saxophone sounds with dreamy keys as Bumblebee playfully deals with the frustration of unrequited affection, whilst the head-nodding “Book Of Snooze” expertly captures the spirit of early-to-mid-90s Hip-Hop, with the nimble emcee giving lyrical nods to both ATCQ and Pete Rock & CL Smooth over subtly layered production.
“Aesthetic” is a slow-paced attack on the pressures Hip-Hop artists face to conform to industry trends in order to achieve success, with the pair noting how this process often results in Black culture and artistry being diluted and exploited to then be sold as disposable entertainment to a mainstream white audience (“Only thing we gotta do is sell our souls and we’ll be making cream…”).
Elsewhere, “Rime Stream” definitely lives up to its title, with featured artists Trace Motivate and KZARAW joining Bumblebee to trade effortless freestyle-flavoured verses over a low-slung groove laced with cool, late-night horns.
Managing to avoid the danger of sounding like they’re simply retreading old ground, with “Solar Excursions” AstroBee have succeeded in their mission to embrace the influences of the past whilst creating music that still sounds fresh and organic today.
Now, who got the jazz?