Stray - Paradise

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  • Lately, Jonathan Fogel has been on a mission to reconcile his love of rap music with his career in drum & bass. Even before last year's all-hip-hop mixtape, Since You've Been Gone, his EPs began to split down the middle between uptempo tracks and boom-bap shuffle, which could make them feel lopsided. Paradise, his latest EP for Exit Records, properly combines the two. It starts with hip-hop and gradually gets faster, letting the genres blend and mingle along the way. Paradise kicks off with its title track, a slice of hip-hop sunshine, and gets darker from there. "Walk On By" lets in some of the drum & bass influence—growling basslines are packed between the broken beats. On "Movements," he goes after a modern LA-style hip-hop full of finely diced samples. "Queen" finally gives in to junglist leanings, with Fogel arranging drum breaks in neat patterns. All three of these tracks hover around half-time drum & bass tempo, a clever move that collapses the difference between the two genres. The pacing of Paradise is remarkable, too—it heats up so gradually that you barely notice once it reaches full-on jungle. Even the harder rhythms of "Without U" wait until halfway through the track to kick in, so it's a welcome energy boost rather than a shock. "Branflakes" touches on the slow/fast sound pioneered by the likes of Fracture and Om Unit. Perfectly pitched between rap and jungle, like the rest of Paradise, it's the most believable synthesis of Fogel's musical personalities so far.
  • Tracklist
      01. Paradise 02. Walk On By 03. Movements 04. Queen 05. Without U 06. Branflakes 07. Dizzy