Bournemouth based producer Lost Loops (previously known as Habitat) releases his debut album ‘Respect The Craft’ on Suspect Packages, a whopping 18 track (on the vinyl, 16 on the digital) instrumental affair, with a select few rap features added for good measure. This is an interesting first outing for the artist who now goes under the guise Lost Loops but whose journey thus far has been one crafted from drum and bass (dnb). As Habitat, he released a number of notable dnb entries such as ‘Tail Feather‘ on Pure Vibes (remarkably this was the first track he ever produced) and ‘Can They Hear Me‘ on e-Motion Records, backed with ‘Holding it down‘ which featured a Big L sample (other samples from the likes of Ghostface Killah and Rakim also appeared on subsequent works). His hard graft in this scene led to him being noticed by Jungle pioneers like Ray Keith and Nicky Blackmarket, getting air play on Origin FM, Kool FM and garnering the attention of various record labels as a result. Habitat then started to produce some grime and rolling tech, songs like ‘Distant‘ and ‘Orbit‘, both of which were picked up by calyx & teebee and even ended up featuring on the Nosia podcast. However, after a long time in the scene he felt that the ‘rawness of the music wasn’t there anymore’ and started to produce a sound reminiscent of 90’s boom bap hip hop. The range of sound experience in all of these genres started to coalesce and the Loost Loops alias was born, his first release being ‘Seduction‘, a track that featured on the ‘The Big Payback vol.6: Black Market’ compilation album.
There have been a number of genre crossing artists over the years who have made the move from dnb, grime into hip hop and vice versa. Harry Shotta and Inja are good examples of rappers who made a career in dnb, as well as Foreign Beggars, Rodney P and Ocean Wisdom, who can effortlessly move in and out of various sound spectrums at will. Adam F who started life on the Metalheadz record label ended up producing a fantastic hip hop album (Kaos) that featured LL Cool J, Redman and De La Soul. DJ Wooz from DMC crew Flaredy Cats went on to form dnb duo Sigma, as well as Goldie, who some might argue is an archetype of this subculture (I am sure I have missed many more, so tweet me your examples!).
Lost Loops clearly is a multi-genre artist with a vast back story (and catalogue) deeply embedded in electronic music, but how did he fare when it came to releasing a transformative new wave boom bap album with jazz infusion and rappers in tow. We unpacked the beats, breaks and bars to find out.
The album opens with ‘Just for Now’, some gentle melancholic jazz piano schmaltz lace into a thumping hip hop break and rolling drums, some impressive composition that sets the tone. The songs fluctuate between the hard and smooth, primarily instrumental but all evoking a certain nostalgia from the golden era. ‘Voices’ does this really well and includes sleigh bells, horn samples, warm keys and vocals you may have heard in any number of mid 90’s rap tunes, lovely stuff. Features are sparse but effective, with songs like ‘Platinum Thoughts’ featuring Phoenix Da Icefire, sitting atop of punchy drums and polished rhythms, who flexes some muscle with bars like..
“.. painted pictures vivid is sacrilegious, I grabbed it hanging like tim boots on my block, an old line, a kid of my calibre, hand on my heart, would always make it big from the start, from the ultrasound to my star chart..”
and ‘Life on Mars’, clearly one of the stand out tracks on the album featuring Pupils of the Clock, who deliver some solid wordplay over dreamlike sequences and echoing drum patterns.
“..the letters were shared through star gazing laughs, making half wasted past, take your scars fade to art painted by a hand of our making, chance taking, we jump in at the deep end and tumble to the seabed..”
Myndd is the third and final feature on the album, putting in a worthy performance on an absolute banger ‘Holding Weight’, hard strings and Hip Hop loops. ‘Mirage’ has a real Zero 7 soulful quality to it, definitely one to count the clouds to and ‘Oh Boy’, RnB flavours exude this track with a nice vocal sample running through it. There is also a fine selecton of cuts where Jabbathakut and DJ Twitch go to town on ‘What it means to me’, ‘Ruff Instrumental’ and titular track ‘Respect The Craft’. The vinyl has two bonus tracks, one of which is ‘Kiss’, a building energetic number that sounds great on the physical.
This album is a long way from the bright lights of heavy duty dnb, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, a relaxing nostalgic hip hop ride that borrows from Jazz, Soul and Funk. It is a chilled out experience that should satiate any Hip Hop fan who likes ambient downtempo hip hop with a boom bap edge. Lost Loops has definitely left his mark with his first entry into planet rap.
Words by Theo Specone