The last few years have shown Paul White to be one of the most innovative producers on the planet. His work as an experimental hip-hop producer has had many hailing him as ‘South London’s answer to Madlib’, creating colourful beats for an endless list of iconic rappers worldwide. He supplied five of the most rawkus instrumentals behind Danny Brown’s iconic debut album Old, hooked up with UK heavyweights Trim and Jehst on his own beat tapes, plus recorded a seven-track collaborative EP with Stones Throw’s Homeboy Sandman earlier this year.
Successfully carving out a niche within the world of hip-hop would be more than enough for most, but as his recent release on R&S has shown, there’s no way of confining the creative avenues in his music. Paul White’s Shaker Notes dips its toes into another world of sound, from psychedelic electronica to afro-centric jazz. White cites his trip to The Gambia as a major influence on the record, receiving lessons from a Djembe master against a dazzling backdrop.
On that note, Paul White has shared five of his favourite records from Africa with us, that inspired the making of Shaker Notes. We’ve picked a favourite from each, which you can listen to below.
1. Uele Kalabubu – Afroground (EMI)
This album is full of amazing spirit, beauty, and some serious beats! I love the instrumentation on this record: drum kit and percussion, lots of wooden melodic percussive instruments, the odd bit of bass guitar, with beautiful chant-like vocals everywhere. There’s such a strong feeling of pure joy, fun, and the human spirit in this record. It’s full of positive vibes. There are deep rhythms that put you in a trance, there are tracks that make you want to dance, but most of all this record is injected with some serious fun, and some slight humor in there too. It feels very youthful and childlike, something I always want my music to have.
2. Sunny Ade and his African Beats – Synchro System (Island)
This is an amazing record that sounds like an artist making modern beats in a couple place. The title track was very inspiring for me as it feels like a mix of hard beats, melody, great song writing, pure spirit and innovative studio production. It has a great mix of old and new instrumentation. It was an inspiration in the way of mixing old and new elements together, acoustic and electronic techniques, and how to use both together to great effect!
3. Various – Songs and Sounds of Zambia (Zambia Record Broadcast Company)
The music in this record transcends the human body and reaches higher places. I wanted Shaker Notes to have the same depth. Each song has a story and a meaning behind it, which makes it greater than just music. It’s life, which – if you ask me – is what all great music is. Shaker Notes has so many meanings about life in it too. I wanted my record to sound as powerful, as meaningful and as full of soul as this one. This album goes much much deeper than words. You have to hear it to feel it!
4. Ernest Honny – Star of the Sea (Christiana)
I love the use of electronic equipment in this record, and the mix of different sonics and sounds. Real home-style DIY production. It’s just all about the vibe and feel and love of music, something I can seriously relate to.
5. Pierre Didy Tchakounte – Magabe Retro (Magabe Song)
The first side of this record is a near twelve-minute song with the same repetitive shakers and kalimba throughout, sprinkled with vocals and other slight variations of a trance. It sounds like nature. Basically it’s trance, music for the human spirit. It reminds you that a pure feeling is powerful enough. You don’t need to overdo anything, just let the spirit and emotion ride out!
Paul White’s Shaker Notes album is out not via R&S Records. It’s available to download in all formats from the R&S online retailer site. Paul White plays at Dublin’s Twister Pepper on Friday. For more details, check out the Facebook event. Remaining tickets can be bought from Eventbrite.