Every time I hear the sultry beat of Isaac’s Rap II from the 1971 album Black Moses by Isaac Hayes (yes that would be Chef from South Park) I’m completely hooked. The credit for my introduction to this song entirely belongs to two musical acts from Bristol who happened to release singles during 1995 which contained virtually identical samples from the Hayes classic. In 1995 Trip Hop was still a relatively new sound that had quietly crept onto the scene with hypnotic drum and bass roots (and an undeniable cool factor). Tricky released the album Maxinquaye with the single Hell is Round the Corner that year, and Portishead released Dummy and the single Glory Box – both songs contained samples from Isaac Hayes and both songs became required listening for Trip Hop aficionados.
2015 marks the 20 year anniversary of the release of two of the greatest Trip Hop albums ever made. Coincidentally, a girl who was not yet born when Maxinquaye and Dummy were released, has just given us a celebratory anniversary gift with her new release Here – a fitting tribute to the epic Trip Hop releases of 1995. Alessia Cara, a Canadian teenager, has created a unique sound that brings something new to Trip Hop, while expertly tipping a hat to the past. Here boasts elegant vocals and intelligent lyrics set to Isaac’s Rap II, just like Hell is Round the Corner and Glory Box but it is the message in the lyrics that truly sets it apart. Refreshing to hear, Alessia paints the lyrical picture of a bored teenage encounter with the same old Hollywood movie-esque teen house party – she disparages the very cliché she is expected to embrace. Reflecting on my own teenage years, listening to Cara’s song, I consider the possibility that a group of teenagers having a “good time” together surpasses the territory of cliché and enters into the realm of fiction.
Regardless, Alessia Cara’s new track Here is essential summer listening, she will surely be a rising star to watch and if you can’t get enough of Alessia, you will definitely want to check out Tricky, Portishead, Nightmares on Wax, Morcheeba and Massive Attack. In the meantime, I’ll be over “here” listening to Ms. Cara’s new track on repeat.