When super left-field experimental producers like Flying Lotus first started buzzing, they were marketing themselves as a "post-Dilla" movement, referring to the late, great producer J Dilla. While I like Flying Lotus and many of his contemporaries, that label always seemed off (and even mildly exploitative). Like yeah, Dilla was great for figuring out cool, wild stuff to do on drum machines and whatnot and those producers took to that. But whatever production tricks he used, he usually retained the warmth of the soul music that he loved with a little bit of humor in the mix too. He made music that sounded both more machine-like and more human at the same time.
Local rapper/producer Aki Kharmicel has exhibited those same qualities in his music lately. Recently, he dropped a video for his song, "NaturalLawOfAttraction," the second offering from his Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints side project (don't forget to check out his other video, "Ursmilingface" either).
The song reminds me of the best parts of Dilla's masterpiece, Donuts. As far as production techniques, he's got the lo-fi texture and he drops in and cuts off samples in an uniquely Dilla-esque way. But more importantly, he's got the human element. He "sings" in a wheezing falsetto that could never be mistaken as technically good -- and actually it sounds like it's been altered to be even wheezier than normal. But it's really playful and charming in a way that would actually succeed at piquing a woman's interest. (You better believe I'm taking notes and you should too!) Then this heavier, screwed-up vocal track will overtake the falsetto every now and then, only adding to the playful spirit with this back-and-forth energy. All of this happens atop a summer-y sweet bed of tinkling keys and bright strings. The whole thing is just butter.
Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints is the moniker for Aki's one-man soul group. The project itself is also called NaturalLawOfAttraction. Follow Aki on Soundcloud to keep up with the latest.
Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog sdRAPS.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.