This week we take a look at TrueHoustonEmcee’s ‘Break’
TrueHoustonEmcee started experimenting with Beats back in 2007 at high school. Starting with rapping and eventually moving to making beats full-time. He credits most of his inspiration to the samples he hears and the producers he has listened to over the years. From 2013 to 2015 TrueHoustonEmcee took a hiatus returning in 2016 where he first noticed a “Lo-Fi scene”. Piquing his interest he became producing again and since then he has been learning and growing as he goes. ‘Break’ is his most recent full length project, but what does this project mean to this exciting producer?
At its core ‘Break’ is a celebration of taking a break. What’s interesting, however, is the different ways this theme is interpreted throughout the album. Mostly obviously is the idea of resting. The entire album is infused with a laidback, relaxing vibe. Each beat on ‘Break’ invites you to pull up a chair, pour your favourite beverage and zone. Whilst this may be a stretch on some tracks, the overall feel works well. TrueHoustonEmcee doesn’t need you to surrender fully to the chill but he leaves the door open enough for you to take that break. The concept of taking a break or changing things up extends further however. When asked about the creation of this album TrueHoustonEmcee explained:
‘For this album I wanted to venture outside of the Boom Bap and gritty Lo-Fi vibe and I felt like I needed a 'break' from my norm. While making the album previous to ‘Break’, I felt like I rushed it and didn't have much enjoyment when making it, although some collab beats were great. I had a lot more fun making ‘Break’ and that's something I always try to remind myself. Overall the album was conceptualised from the start and I had a goal I wanted to achieve and I felt like I did a great job reaching that goal. I wanted to make something people could listen to either on their break or just easy listening. "Everyone deserves a break" is the motto for the album.'
So indeed this album not only conceptually invites a rest for the listener, but also represents a break for the producer. By reworking and reinterpreting his creativity, TrueHoustonEmcee gives himself room to not only challenge himself but also fully explore the thematics of an album in differing ways. This freedom has produced an album that is thematically interesting but not too heavy or overbearing which in turn creates this overriding atmosphere of relaxation.
Another key way ‘Break’ explores its multi-levelled concept is through the variety of the vibe. Each track may adhere to the general feeling of chill, but the sample sources and sonics actually vary wildly between each beat. Songs like ‘Dusk’ and ‘Happy Hour’ couldn’t be more different from each other. The former being a jazzy bossa nova tinged jam whilst the latter is an ice cold, futuristic melodic workout. However despite the disparate sounds and styles, TrueHoustonEmcee manages to keep it all together. The song may change but the message is the same. The distance between tracks doesn’t devalue the overall experience, rather bolsters it with meaningful, technical musical expression.
‘Break’ is also an album full of melody. Each track is infused with an ear worm quality that leaves an indelible mark on the listener. Melodics can be a hard thing to master with samples, but on ‘Break’, TruehoustonEmcee has put melody front and centre. To enhance this attention on melodics, TrueHoustonEmcee has also put a lot of time into the drums. Balancing interesting rhythms with unobtrusive tones. TrueHoustonEmcee really lets the high, bright musicality shine on ‘Break’ and ally of that is down to his production process, which he explained for us:
‘I was listening to a lot of samba and bossa, not even really digging for anything at first but I started to get loops stuck in my head so I started sampling a few of them. I wanted a lot of percussion and flutes in these beats and tried to blend my own drum work with the breaks and samples. Also some guitars and beach tropical vibes. Some tracks have original instrumentation in them and some are sample chops and some are a mix of both, so it's almost hard to tell which is what. That is something I tried to keep consistent when making the album.’
Blending OG compositions, samples and differing drum work is no easy task, but TrueHoustonEmcee manages it with style, grace and a fantastic ear.
‘Break’ is an incredibly solid album. The theme and concept is strong but malleable. It can mean a lot of different things to both fan and producer and it expresses itself on a multi faceted level with great aplomb. Whilst never straying too far from the theme, there is still enough variety to keep you interested.The sound morphs but the story remains constant. Part of this is the infectious melodic work TrueHoustonEmcee has brought to the project. Each tracks embed with a catchiness that is sometimes lacking in instrumental music. ‘break’ is an album about taking some time to stop, think and change up your state of mind; and in this regard it is an amazing volume of work. As TrueHoustonEmcee himself says, everyone deserves to take a break.
Listen to ‘Break’ here:
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