A Composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist, law professor, film scorer, studio owner, record store and salon/barber shop proprietor, DJ, label head and avid collector of rare vinyl, certainly no one could accuse Adrian Younge of being one dimensional (or leading a boring life).
Over the past few years the LA-based renaissance man’s esteem in the hip-hop world has risen meteorically, due in no small part to his unique production style—part RZA, part Ennio Morricone and part Motown—which eschews computers entirely, in favor of classic analog gear, sort of like a rap equivalent of folks at Dap Tone Records. Younge’s music is composed of all original parts (drums, horns, strings, organs—you name it) played by his house band Venice Dawn and captured the traditional way—completely analog, from vintage preamps to mixing console to outboard processing gear to 2” analog tape. Younge then takes all of stems, chops and loops them through a sampler and arranges them into lush, multi-faceted hip-hop tracks with a distinctly “live” feel.
Younge’s talents have also led him to creating soundtrack for the neo Blacksploitation flick “Black Dynamite”
…as well as a collaboration with the legendary Delfonics.
His latest project, There is Only Now, released on his own Linear Labs imprint, sees him teaming up with Oakland legends Souls of Mischief to produce the most vital and by far flat-out dopest thing the foursome have released since their ‘90s heyday. The suite of songs takes the form of a narrative loosely based (which is to say it’s an embellishment) on actual events, where unidentified, masked men attempted to assassinate the golden-era rap crew outside a club, during the height of their popularity.
Concept albums are notoriously difficult to pull off: either the concept is half-baked or (as is more often the case) the project is choked by filler. But Younge is in a unique position, having experience in the film industry and having already produced 12 Reasons to Die (featured on DecibalCast 17) with Ghostface Killah, an acclaimed collaboration that saw the Wu Tang don in classic form spinning a gritty Mafioso narrative complete with intrigue, betrayal and murder over what baroque, cinematic production.
In addition to some seriously accomplished rapping from the Souls and Younge’s aforementioned production, There is Only Now is peppered with cameos from a slew of esteemed guests (people clambering to work with Younge) including Snoop Dog, Busta Rhymes and Ali Shaheed Mohamed, who play the parts of various characters in the story.
And the future is looking very bright. In a recent interview with the eminent Gilles Petersen Younge detailed upcoming projects, including forthcoming albums with Snoop Dog, Cee-Lo Green and A Tribe Called Quest‘s Ali Shaheed Muhammad.