July 29th 2022
Eyes In The Tower’ is a uniquely London evolution of classic hip hop. It brings through lineages of jazz and was built on a cypher in which saxophone, drums, piano and double bass freestyle as powerfully as the lyricist. It is about friendships that have been built over thousands of hours hanging out in bedrooms, basements and back rooms. It was brewed for over a decade before being made in three days.
CoN&KwAkE are Confucius MC and Kwake Bass. They share long and entwined histories with saxophonist and Native Rebel label owner Shabaka Hutchings, and with many of the incredible London musicians and producers who have emerged over the last decade. The basement jams they hosted – originally in Kwake’s teenage bedroom and later in his Brockley Rise ‘Drumgeon’ – were part of a rich and interconnected community where beat-makers, instrumentalists and vocalists would come together and make the music they needed. ‘Eyes In The Tower’ draws as much from on musicianship developed in locally-famous south London bedrooms as from players schooled in world-famous Conservatoires.
It is the second release on Shabaka Hutchings’ Native Rebel Recordings, where he invites friends and family to RAK Studios improvise around sketches he’s written specifically for the invited artists. The first release was Chelsea Carmichael’s bold and expressive ‘The River Don’t Like Strangers’, and like that release, ‘Eyes In The Tower’ contains evocative photography by Native Rebel’s in-house visualiser Adama Jalloh. It was mixed by Dill Harris and mastered by Guy Davy at Electric Master London.
“It’s very humbling [doing this record with Shabaka],” says Kwake Bass, “but humbly, I would say it’s quite seamless; a natural progression. It’s a long time coming. As artists we’ve all rubbed off on each other. The umbrella – the label – is an opportunity to be around each other creatively. It’s exciting.”