Glorious Game by El Michels Affair and Black Thought

The Feature Album this week on 2SER is Glorious Game from Brooklyn’s cinematic soul powerhouse El Michels Affair and Philadelphian hip hop legend Black Thought, of The Roots.

This record is a dream collaboration from two of the best in the game: Leon Michels and Black Thought have long been friends, connecting around the NYC Funk and Soul scene , with the Roots and El Michels often having interchangeable members (such as Dave Guy and Ian Hendrickson-Smith) between the two.

As a group, El Michels are a group more associated with the jazz and funk world, putting out a series of (brilliant) covers records from the early 2000s onwards . For Glorious Game, they took the opportunity to utilise hip hop production techniques more fully.

They switched from the traditional approach of tracking live instrumentals before sending them to the emcee. Michels got to work on a sampler,  chopping and looping up some of this favourite soul records along with tracks from his own back catalogue, before embellishing it with added recordings from the band. The sample tweaking and warping on this is incredibly intricate and processed, without ever feeling digitised.

The end result is a heavy dose of conscious lyricism, set against bouncing organic funk grooves combined perfectly with lyrics that are revealing and personal – such as Black Thought’s childhood in Philadelphia, as well as the spiritual and political climate in which it was recorded.

A record that is boundary-pushing in its quality and composition.

Glorious Game is out now on Big Crown Records on Vinyl and Digital.