I’ve long been a sucker for hip-hop with live instrumentation. From my early love affair with nerdcore act Optimus Rhyme to my teen angst getting really into Gym Class Heroes to my constant stanning for The Roots, I’ve always appreciated the ability to weave performance into a medium that’s so often handled by (admittedly excellent) studio production. There’s something to be said for that kind of artistry and it’s sure to make a track or an act stand to me.
Seattle rapper Spekulation does it on better when putting together his latest release “Home of the Mighty” by teaming up with a twenty-piece horn section. Split into two parts, (“An Introduction” and the main “Home of the Mighty”) this was my formal introduction to Spekulation’s work. (I quickly found his production work on “Bout That Action,” a remix of the phenomenal Marshawn Lynch Super Bowl Media Day interview and kicked myself for missing that) On “An Introduction,” the presence of the horn section is immediately felt in the jazz vibes and the swell of the brass. Spekulation does treat this as an introduction to his career, his style and eventually his scene. His flow and voice remind me of Brother Ali and it glides over the top of this silky smooth instrumental like he’s ice skating on the top of it.
But when the jazz flute (!!!) rips and the introduction dissolves into the main track, Spekulation goes from graceful to aggressive in a hurry as he takes us from talking about his own accomplishments to giving praise to the city that made him. He forms a veritable Legion of Boom with guest Perry Porter and Paolo Escobar’s voice is the perfect fit on the soul hook. The horns that were so smooth in the first half of the track switch up to give the “Home of the Mighty” the punch that it needs survive the onslaught of rhymes that the two emcees bring to the table. You can listen to “Home of the Mighty” below and check out the rest of Spekulation’s work on his Soundcloud page.