Texas swing is now rendered into clicking beats and psychedelic samples: think J Dilla inspired grooves from the streets of San Antonio. 24 year old Rae Davis (yes, I know you’re thinking of The Kinks) has released his soft-jazz and harder-beat album Positive Thinking under the San Antonio label Exponential (home to acts like DJ Jester the Filipino Fist and Theory of Everything). The album itself is an exercise in hip-hop fusion, much influenced by Davis’ interest in the legends of jazz along with a light, down-tempo understanding of beats. The album opens with the comfortable, gentle ambience of “Yesterday’s History” and “Pyramids”, but soon the build-up – characterized by one particular repeating beatbox line – comes at you full force perhaps a little too predictable to the casual listener.
His recording style, however, suggests a strong sense of detail that might elude those consumers who have a limited base of knowledge in the prolific field of underground or fusion hip-hop. The latter of those two songs , it bears mentioning, has one of the strongest bass lines in an album that uses them sparingly and for effect. Davis excels when he allows for that sort of subtlety.
As the album progresses it never leaves the jazz-inflected realm, leaving room for ambience and implied tones. “Old Pianos” displays this sort of nuance well, with a slowly building series of click-clacks and layers of electronic “fuzz”. The sort of flow that he enjoys can also suffer from its own minimal movement and progression. At its best, Positive Thinking holds a beat like nobody’s business. At its least motivated, it holds that beat a fraction too long. Regardless, Rae Davis is, without a doubt, a jazzed young talent. Pay attention to this cat.
Find out more about Rae Davis
Words and Subliminal Messages by Miles King
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