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Duke "Early Instrumentals" LP (Blue Vinyl)

Duke "Early Instrumentals" LP (Blue Vinyl)

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Having toured the world with Mczo and been at the helm of his own studio Pamoja Records since he was just 18, influential Singeli producer Duke, now 25, is one of Tanzania's busiest club alchemists. On his acclaimed solo debut "Uingizaji Hewa" we were introduced to his idiosyncratic "hip-hop Singeli" sound, a slower cousin to the Dar Es Salaam-rooted hard 'n fast club template that takes as much special sauce from Busta Rhymes and Eminem as it does the 200BPM clatter of genre veterans Jay Mitta and Sisso. On September's "Sounds Of Pamoja," we were treated to a closer look into Duke's studio, and specifically at his work with the city's best young MCs like Dogo Kibo, Pirato MC and MC Kuke. "Early Instrumentals" allows us to witness the depth of Duke's evolution with a selection of unearthed genre melting Singeli mutations laid completely bare without vocals.

This 11-track set features some of his most arresting hybrid dance music yet, expressing his visionary fusion of contemporary rave sounds, US rap attitude, and Tanzanian dance history. While the roots of Singeli are in taraab, a popular fusion of East African and Middle Eastern traditional dance rhythms and melodies, Duke steers the sound into a synth-led, syncopated firework display that sounds spry and futuristic. Centered around a bumping staccato melody and urgent synth strings 'Dukelo Fl Sing' echoes the lo-swung swagger of early Dr. Dre productions, but kicks the tempo into overdrive, decorating any gaps with flickering late-nite synths.

'Beat Kali Duke' meanwhile drives carnival trance leads through hard and fast rolls of kick drums, whistles and woodblock cracks. It's not all completely high speed either: 'Duke Selecta' is almost afro-house, with slow, sexy bass and woozy vocal melodies, and 'KKKKKKKKKKKKKKK' absorbs the propulsive spirit of South African gqom. "Early Instrumentals" is the most varied picture we've been presented yet of Duke's rousing dance cocktail. IT's a physical call to action that assures listeners the genre is for movement, not headphone listening.

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