The compilation album is a rite of passage for elite hip-hop producers. We rightfully revere the classics: Marley Marl’s In Control Vol. 1, Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor, Hi-Tek’s Hi-Teknology, J Dilla’s Welcome to Detroit, and The Neptunes’ Clones. Or in more recent years, the gems reaped from the Mello Music Cinematic Universe: Apollo Brown’s The Reset, Oddisee 101, and L’Orange’s The Ordinary Man. In that timeless lineage, you can add another one with Elaquent’s, Forever is a Pretty Long Time.
As with all brilliant producer compilation albums, the Guelph, Ontario-based Elaquent vividly constructs his own world. It’s the hip-hop equivalent of that old question: who would you want to invite to your dream dinner party if you had the chance? But instead, it’s the lab, and the visitors include a murderer’s row of underground MCs including Oddisee, Blu, Chester Watson, Cavalier, and Guilty Simpson. The curation is impeccable, but more than that, it creates its own orphic sense of magic. After all, art is closer to voodoo than science, and here, the rappers sound legitimately inspired by the productions. It’s an album possessed with smoke-wreathed jazz cool and urgent immediacy — as though as soon as the artists heard the instrumentals, they immediately set pad to pen.
Seamlessly and rightfully tying himself into the extended Native Tongues ancestry, Elaquent offers one last reminder of his gift. This time, it’s just the producer and the stage, the atmosphere warm and aromatic but full of mystery, the vocals faded just right, the drums that would sound just right inside the basement of the Village Vanguard. Music that feels alive, but more importantly, music that can live forever.
Elaquent’s album is out everywhere today!