Quakers (the name derives from Earthquakers, rather than the religious order) is a 35 member hip-hop collective helmed by 3 producers - Fuzzface (a.k.a. Geoff Barrow from Portishead), 7-Stu-7 (Portishead's engineer) and Katalyst. Disillusioned with a lot of the current hip-hop crop, they set out to make the kind of rap record that they'd like to listen to, and this is the result.
At 41 tracks there's a lot to listen to, although a lot of them are around the 2 minute mark so they come and go quite quickly. Here are the highlights of the album for me:
- Fitta Happier - based around a sample of a brass band cover of Radiohead's The National Album, and featuring Guilty Simpson and MED, this is a stomping powerful track, full of energy and attitude
- Smoke (feat. Jonwayne) - a prime slice of funk, evoking the west coast style of hip-hop
- Mummy (feat. Diverse) - quick lyrics and some weird, priest-like chanting over a more electronic backing make this one stand out from the crowd
- The Turk (feat. King Magnetic) - some hard beats and rhymes in the verse give way to a great middle-eastern sample and then, for no apparent reason, a helicopter
- There It Is (feat. The Champs) - another funky track with some great horn samples
- War Drums (feat. Phat Kat & Guilty Simpson) - starts off like Adam & the Ants (more people should sample them...) with a couple of great raps and some other interesting samples
- My Mantra (feat. Dave Dub) - lots of great chanting samples over which Dave Dub does his stoner-sounding rap, mentioning Brixton and Thin Lizzy in the lyrics
- Sign Language (feat. Aloe Blacc) - on which Blacc returns to his rapping roots and makes you wish that, now he's got a dollar or two to his name, he'd make more records like this
- Earth Quaking (feat. Akil) - 80 seconds of west coast rap over what sounds like a '70s Eastern European soul / pop song - genius!
The only minus points on the album go to 'Outlaw' - the rappers name on this track is Deed but, given that he sounds like Justin Lee Collins, his voice is so out of kilter with the rest of the album that the records never really recovers from his contribution.
It's worth mentioning that this is the first album I've received from the new Stones Throw Digital Discography subscription service, under which you pay $10 a month, and in return you receive a download of every new album they release, together with exclusives and back catalogue releases (details here).
You can hear a few tracks from the album below: