First off, best name of 2013. Second, dude came out the box swangin’. His Symbols Recordings-release Windfish album was a thing of fall-time beauty… and considering it dropped in the summer, I was legit waiting for the crispy autumn leaves to fall so I could run through them while blasting the piano-crazed title track. Neph has intriguing melodies and a hip-hop sensibility, but wraps them in some of the most well-played dance-y grooves out there. Shit to really sit and marinate to. No tallcans, though; you need some whiskey in your tumbler to truly rock to this.
This Austrialian producer was actually around a lot, so it’s hard to say he was 100% slept-on, but his diversity seems to be underappreciated. On the dance music circuit, he’s known for murky trap cuts, or mind-numbing dubstep-influenced numbers like his remix of “Sierra Leone” for Mt. Eden. Then he’ll smack you upside the head and drop an album’s worth of Dilla-inspired instrumentals, highlighting his passion for hip-hop. A string of what should’ve been bigger-name remixes for everyone from Empire of the Sun to AlunaGeorge seem to have been slept under the rug, but watch; he’s next.
Stray is a UK producer that I initially knew for his drum & bass tunes. Even for a dnb artist, he kept things on the lower-end of sounds, although he wasn’t afraid to show off his breakbeat-editing prowess on a few remixes. 2013 saw him come out swinging with “LA Zoom,” which was featured on an Exit compilation that highlighted his knack for footwork trax. The juke/footwork scene grew, and Stray’s obviously influenced. To hype his Matchsticks EP, he knocked out a mix that ran the gamut of sound, finding a way to sandwich everything from Chance the Rapper to DJ Earl in without blinking an eye. Proper repeat-listening beauty.
This Philly street bass beatsmith should be known to real heads; he’s released tunes everywhere from Ninja Tune to Planet Mu, and has had a handful of solo album projects come out. I saw one site premiere a track from his brilliant Blaster EP calling him an up-and-comer. If you’re premiering something, and you don’t know the guy, just be happy not knowing who dude is. Dont front like he just came around… especially when Starkey’s running circles around his peers, finding new and exciting ways to get all intergalactic on that ass with his sonic tapestries. Dude’s a true talent.
If I could mold the world in my image, our heartbeats would be in tune to footwork riddims. Pawn sent over a remix he did of Kanye West’s “Bound2” at a time where people were knocking out pretty generic reworks, and for some reason the amen-heavy juke masterpiece he turned in surpassed all preconceived notions. Dude beefed up the bassline, left Ye pretty much silent, and took Uncle Charlie’s bridge, focusing on its beauty. The best part? He’ done a shitload more, and continued to surprised me with each and every new bit.