VIPER caught up with South-East London lyricist DAVID GOTSOUND to hear all about his favourite mixtape…
If you’d asked my favourite mixtape ever in 2017, I’d have given another answer. But for the last two years, my favourite mixtape has been the ‘Strata’ EP by Jesse James Solomon.
The replay value is crazy! I’ve listened through the project so many times and enjoyed it the same amount each time. I’ve never really heard music that sounds like this come out of the UK, so it’s really inspirational for me. As an artist, I’ve found it instructional in regards to pushing my own sound and the level I’d like to reach.
Throughout the tape, Jesse James sounds a little world-weary, a little battle-worn, but like a man whose experiences have made him better, wiser. In this period of my life and at my age, I can relate to that a lot. Sonically, I think it’s a pretty melancholic project, but because the music is so good, I often feel joy when I listen to it, which has come in handy a lot of the times I’ve had it in rotation.
I discovered Kadiata through this project, who I believe produced a track on the EP called ‘Under the Sun’ as well as delivering the hook on the same track. Kadiata is a wicked producer, I’ve heard him lend his sound to hip hop, indie, RnB, synth-pop records for a bunch of different but talented artists, that kind of versatility is crazy! As a rapper and vocalist, Kadiata is cheeky and smart with the voice and great at delivering sung parts too. A really great all-round artist!
This project also put me on to ELIZA. I listened to her back in her poppier Eliza Doolittle days, but now she’s this super wavy, mysterious RnB artist and I love it. She’s transitioned in style seamlessly, I’m a big fan.
The first time I heard the mixtape,I was commuting to work. It was a grey morning, I was feeling pretty subdued and not looking forward to starting my day. All in all, the perfect mind state to take this project in!
I discovered it at a time when I was feeling pretty disillusioned with hip hop and music in general. This probably speaks more to my poor music discovery skills as opposed to any wider indictment of the state of hip hop. But I was struggling to find and hear impactful lyricism coupled with beautiful instrumentation in any of the new stuff I was listening to at the time. When I heard this project in full it was like a breath of the freshest air. Jesse James Solomon’s delivery is so calm, so measured, while really poetic in content, like some of my favourite Jay Z verses. The beats are sick too, innovative, textured and super musical. It’s truly beautiful music.
At first, the mixtape cover filled me with gloom and reminded me a lot of cold, wet Winter nights. Over time as I got into the music, the cover began to feel familiar and homely – as it should, I love the night. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out the cover is a painting of Elephant & Castle, done – I believe – by Jesse James himself.
I don’t even think physical copies of this project exist! My favourite physical copy of any music is Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’!
I would describe Jesse’s ‘Strata’ EP in three words, as Poetic, Melodic and Immersive. My favourite song is ‘Beneath the Glow’. The first time I heard it, I had it solely on repeat for many days after. The line in the chorus where Jesse James says, “The things I love will be the end of me” speaks to my soul. It’s super simple, but I could literally apply that lyric to so many things I love; my love for music, my love for people, my love of adventure etc. It’s great lyricism. The beat is really weird in a good way too. I guess it’s hip hop but the rhythm of the drums is really syncopated. It reminds me of garage, and it features lots of sparkly and dramatic synth sounds, which is right up my alley.
I think I would pay £50 for a vinyl copy of this project. This is a weird question to answer because I genuinely think good music is priceless and I can’t necessarily put a price on how this project has made me feel at times. However, if I envisage it in the context of a vinyl record, with the iconic artwork on the front, I think I could be talked out of £50 max. I’d keep it a long time and it’d definitely be a prized piece in my vinyl collection so yeah, I think it’d be worth it.