Guts - Le Bienheureux
Author: Tom Spooner
Friday, 23 November 2007
“When you listen to my music you can hear the two passions in my life… music and travel,” enthuses Guts, the latest signing to DJ Ease’s Wax On label.
Having worked as a successful hip hop producer since the ’80s, Guts has been granted the rare opportunity to combine his two principle passions. He has visited the United States, Ibiza, Jamaica, and Africa. The Parisian’s latest solo project Le Bienheureux is a celebration of life, a sample-based hip hop album infused with musical textures from across the globe.
“For me it’s like the school of life,” he says. “The travel opens my mind. I am lucky because in the ’90s I travelled with my hip hop band (Alliance Ethnik) – they were very popular. I went in Costa Rica, in Panama, in Jamaica.”
More recently Guts travelled to Senegal’s capital Dakar to work with the pioneering singer Youssou N’Dour. “He is a legend in Dakar – he is very, very respected… I work in the studio for help and development with young artists in Dakar. It was a great experience. I love Africa. It influenced my music. On my album I sample a little touch of jazz, soul, and latin-soul from Africa. Latin soul from Africa is incredible… The spirit in Africa and the new revolution influenced me.”
Le Bienheureux is a collection of blissed-out bass-heavy hip hop, with early soul and blues samples mingling with Senegalese and classic French rhythms. Moving away from his work with French hip hop’s leading lyricists, including his own brainchild Alliance Ethnik, the album doesn’t feature any rappers and focuses instead on lush arrangements and diverse samples, giving it a strong pop sensibility. The heavy beats, produced on an Akai MPC4000, remain fluid, dexterously supporting imaginative musical themes. There are horn sections straight from Sergio Leonie’s Western soundscapes and dusty Left Bank jazz that interplay in Guts’s panoramic sunshine-baked debut album.
Guts develops his production skills in New York in the ’90s with legendary producer Bob Power. Power, who worked on the seminal albums Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul is Dead by De La Soul, introduced Guts to new techniques as well as inspirational old school rappers such as KRS One. Guts had the privilege to develop his musical vision in the optimistic Daisy Age of hip hop. Although Le Bienheureux has darker tones, the eclectic dub-popisms and chilled beats are frequently illuminated by a general positivity reminiscent of this Daisy Age period.
“I think that happiness in life is the most important. Maybe you don’t have a lot of money, maybe you don’t have a big car, a big house, a big family, a beautiful wife. But maybe you are happy; for me it is better,” he explains. “When the people around me give me a fucking good impression, give love – for me, this is most important.”
WHAT: Le Bienheureux through Wax On / Creative Vibes
WHEN: Out now