El Michels Affair, Enter The 37th Chamber
Subdued riffs on familiar melodies, perfect for hip-hop hangovers
It's inevitable that some up-and-coming rap group will, sooner or later, sample a track from Enter the 37th Chamber. It's the only proper way for the cycle to continue: El Michels Affair, experienced soul / R&B session musicians still in their 20s, here rework hits from the archives of the Wu-Tang Clan who themselves sampled soul / R&B tunes from the generation before. Someone's got to volunteer to keep the wheel turning.
Cementing their spot in the biz through steady work with the Dap-Kings, Antibalas, Menehan Street Band as well as, uh, the Wu-Tang Clan, El Michels apply their trademark mellow soul to the RZA loops that helped define East Coast rap in the mid-90s. While their repetitive nature can often make hip-hop instrumentals a tedious listen, Enter the 37th Chamber's loose improvisational covers play more like a Tarantino soundtrack than elevator muzak. None of them surpass the originals but that's not the point. Instead, we're offered subdued riffs on familiar melodies, perfect for hip-hop hangovers.