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Review: An Evening With Silk Sonic

Dear readers, the album we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Ever since the release of “Leave The Door Open” back in March, I had been in absolute dire need of a full record. I can assure you, however, it was one-hundred-percent worth the wait. Before I could even finish my first run-through, I already knew that it would be featured on our 2021 Record Collection (read last year’s here!). I may even go on and say that this is my album of the year… who knows? Stay tuned.

I had been in quite the writing slump with pressures of school and work clouding my mind, but Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars have parted the skies and shown me the light again. I listened to the album in the car with two best friends of mine, aimlessly driving around the streets of Atlanta, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Even within the first few seconds of “Silk Sonic Intro,” we were already bopping our heads and letting out the occasional “Daaamn!” Genuinely speaking, I whipped my phone out of my pocket and started typing this up in the backseat after only three songs in. 

Coming in at just nine tracks, An Evening With Silk Sonic cements the two singers in the industry as a duo to keep an eye on. The pre-releases (“Leave The Door Open,” “Skate,” and, my favorite of the three, “Smokin Out The Window”) gave listeners a peek into what was to come, and their accompanying songs undoubtedly keep the momentum going. 

There’s something incredibly glamorous about this record. It just makes you feel lavish and expensive, doesn’t it? The prominent golden hues throughout their music videos and outfits add to that feeling, and my God, does it give an ego boost. The combination of Mars and .Paak is otherworldly, and each of their abundant musical talents transforming into one almost feels like a divine gift from the gods themselves. 

Bearing that thought in mind, the features of Thundercat and Bootsy Collins in “After Last Night” catapults the track into another realm. With so many geniuses behind a single song, it’s impossible to not love it. Its not-so-subtle sexiness makes the track even more addictive, and it’s charming enough to make the line, “That gushy, gushy good,” sound profound. This is easily one of my favorites; give it a listen here:

“Fly As Me” is another track I’ve fallen in love with, and it’s not hard to understand why. The feisty instrumental matches the energy of the witty, yet bold and empowering, lyrics in an act of harmonious unification. It’s a song for when you’re walking down the street with your headphones in and your main goal of the day is to be the coolest person on every block. I guarantee that as long as this is what’s playing, you’ll find just the right amount of confidence to turn the world into your own personal runway. While you’re at it, listen to Anderson .Paak’s advice and sprinkle those truffles on your mashed potatoes, you little superstar.

With tracks like the explosive “777″ and the dreamy “Blast Off,” there’s truly not a dull moment in the album. As a matter of fact, I would say that the only dull moment is the ending itself. When it ended, I wasn’t even expecting it to end. I mean, I knew it had to end eventually, but it came as such a shock. It felt like I showed up to the party right before it got shut down; I needed more. I’ll graciously take these nine tracks, though, and make them well-acquainted with my eardrums, don’t you worry.

Alright, that’s enough from me. It’s time to let Silk Sonic steal your attention for a bit, don’t you think? So, I urge you to drop whatever it is you’re doing and press play; I promise it’ll make you a whole lot happier than Anderson and Bruno in “Put On A Smile.”

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Creators Monthly Why We Love

IRATION STEPPAS – DUBS INNA 3000 STYLE

This month for your favourite bus read, I want to discuss dub music. It’s a deeply influential genre that never disappoints and still, little is known about it and its protagonists. Digging into its fascinating history is always a treat, not so much through written accounts but by witnessing a tradition that still prevails on the dancefloor, almost 60 years from its inception in Kingston, Jamaica. I recently went out to see Iration Steppas celebrate their 30th birthday at Trinity Centre in Bristol and it was as neat as I hoped it would be. It had been a while – I almost forgot how potent and uplifting dub can be; it’s like an assault to the senses with its thrill-building reverbs, psychotropic sirens, and guts-shaking bass. It sways you off your feet in the best way possible, especially when played by its top vanguards. Here’s a taster of my awesome time at Trinity, although this video doesn’t do justice to what happened that night.

Iration Steppas are one of the best in the game – you’ll understand what makes them so special if you see them live. It’s mesmerising how good they seem to feel when they’re at the controls, and they make you feel it, too: quintessential happiness. It all began years ago, back in the 70s when Mark Iration and his long-gone friend Sam Mason were just a couple of teenagers collecting records. They were fascinated by the likes of Jah Shaka and Jah Tubby’s and curious enough to try and make their mum’s amp sound louder – so they got into building their own sound system and experimenting with it.

Mark Iration (left) and Sam Mason (right)

It wasn’t until the 90s when Mark Iration met Dennis Rootical, that Iration Steppas as we know them today were born. Mark’s journey started small, this-used-to-be-a-wardrobe-and-a-bag-of-nails small, and turned into a monster of a system, tons of dubplates, and a decked-out studio with a board that’s got 100-something channels. Iration Steppas are some OG, full-of-character bunch of mixing artists, who made a real contribution to dub through their music. Their way of connecting with the crowd is spotless, and it serves dub a great honour. They always put up this fantastic show with their DYI, uniquely craggy rhythms and improvised lyrics each time the record needs turning over. And wait until you see them in a soundclash. Their greatness, I think, comes from some absolutely fantastic and annoyingly hard to come across tunes that are then mixed and presented in a very soulful, unforgettable way.

Iration Steppas opened new worlds with their Year 3000 production style; even the name itself hints to a particular craft where inspiration from mentors, old school lyrics, and sub-bass frequencies meet a unique sound that touches on house, acid, and jungle. 30 years in the scene and Mark and Dennis have the same awe-inspiring energy, the unfailingly authentic techno hue to their music, and remain one of the most loved sound systems worldwide.

If this sparked your interest I suggest you save the date for the premiere of INA VANGUARD STYLE, a documentary about Iration Steppas, courtesy of Dubquake Records.

And before I go, please go see them live. It’s the kind of thing you should do at least once in your lifetime. Here’s where to find them over the next few months:

LEEDS 12 & 13th November @ Freedom Mills with support from O.B.F. and Charlie P – tickets for the 12th and here for the 13th

BRISTOL 27th November @ The Fiddlers with Macka B and Aba Shanti-I – tickets

LONDON 17th December @ Fox & Firkin – tickets

LEICESTER 26th December Boxing Day Special with Aba Shanti-I @ 2Funky Music Cafe – tickets