Despite an outer sheen of Italo electro funk, Chromeo’s relationship with hip-hop runs deep, and is visible in small snippets across their history. For starters, their band names are Dave 1 (David Macklovitch) and P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) and their first ever single was entitled You’re So Gangsta. With their new album White Women a ‘reinterpretation of the late great ’70s and ’80s disco funk era’, we decided to get Chromeo singer and A-Trak’s big bro Dave 1 in to reveal the group’s 5 favourite rap albums. He prefaced the task set before him with the following assertion:
‘Obviously I could go on and on about how Illmatic is objectively the greatest rap album of all time, and how ground breaking Only Built For Cuban Linx was – but here is a list of albums that both Pee and I were bumping at the same time, enjoying together when they came out. Records that are truly a part of the Chromeo history’.
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
It’s true what they say about this album: it could come out today and still sound current. Radically modern in form and content, this one of the best sounding hip-hop recordings. Fun fact: Q-Tip, not Ali Shaheed, made all the beats.
The Pharcyde – Labcabincalifornia
This is a P-Thugg favorite. Not a perfect album, but a cult classic and certainly one of the most underrated in the hip-hop canon. We love it because it featured the drum programming prowess of a then-unknown producer: J Dilla, who then became our all time favourite. I copied the kick drum pattern of Runnin on the first track I ever produced.
The Roots – Illadelph Halflife
This is the best Roots album as far as I’m concerned. Mixed by Bob Power – same engineer as Midnight Marauders – it was also sonically leagues above everything else that was out at the time. Black Thought was at his sharpest and the band went for a hardcore edge that rid them of the acid jazz-hop stigma once and for all. Concerto of the Desperado was a huge production influence for me.
OutKast – Aquemini
Another record that Pee and I both bumped ceaselessly for like a year. The masses caught on with the following OutKast album (sort of like The Roots with Things Fall Apart), but this was Dre and Big Boi at their best: incredibly melodic, not too experimental, Southern roots intact, but still aiming for the funk galaxy (Geroge Clinton is featured on Synthesizer). Andre’s flow on Return of the Gangsta is one for the books.
Jay-Z – The Blueprint
When this came out, Pee and I lived together and we were just getting started on Chromeo demos. I remember Pee downloading it for me on the shoddy PC at the apartment. I didn’t know any of the enlisted producers (didn’t even know how to pronounce Kanye West) at the time, but I recall listening to it and being blown away. This record took the Wu-Tang soul sample style to new heights. My old Akai S-950 couldn’t handle loops as long as Song Cry or Heart of the City. So as much as I admired the beats on this record, its new sound made me want to move on to something new.
Chromeo’s new album White Women will be released on Polydor on May 12