UK producer Configa unleashes his long awaited NEW album ‘Configaration Volume 1’, 16 tracks deep of music from the soul via Chuck D’s SLAMjamz International label.
I’ve been looking forward to this release and once I heard earlier this year that Configa had signed to Chuck’s label the anticipation grew. Hailing from Newcastle the dope producer is renowned for his raw, Golden Era sound and neck snapping beats, also the CEO of Configaration Records, as well as having a doctorate in Hip Hop and Ethnicity.
Configa describes his sound as “True-school”, now I know what he means by that, but I thought I’d ask the man himself to explain it in his own words rather than me getting things twisted. Configa says “True-school means that it can’t be classified as ‘old school’ OR contemporary. It’s not old, it’s not new. It’s true. It is about a feeling more than any image or sub-genre specifications. It’s music that maintains and represents its true spirit and essence. When I hear music today I don’t get a ‘feeling’, music should ALWAYS evoke some kind of visceral response. True-school is music free of any outside corruption, artists that can express themselves exactly how they desire without pandering to the latest fad.”
When Configa sent over the files and I started to download ‘Configaration Volume 1’ a big grin went from cheek to cheek as the track list and features began to reveal themselves….. the iconic Chuck D, Juice crew legend Craig G, Grand Surgeon and Spoonie Gee, Reks and an exclusive verse from the late, great Sean P (Rest In Power) just to mention a few. Now add to that mix heavyweight UK names such as Genesis Elijah, Si Phili, Serocee and Skriblah, accompanied by Dr Configa cooking up that flavour in the lab we have the recipe for dopeness.
Configa – ‘Configaration Volume 1’ Promo feat. Chuck D
‘Configaration Volume 1’ allows Configa to display his many attributes as a producer taking influences from latin music, reggae, guitar rifts, brass instrumentation and infusing it with his customary head nodding drums, the album is interspersed with a couple of instrumentals that keep the pace of the album going. Sometimes these kind of tracks can turn into throw away joints or ones that get skipped but the album really flows and keeps the pace going throughout the 57 minute duration, but what the album really oozes is SOUL and lots of it.
Perfectly demonstrated by the Craig G track ‘From The Soul’ and further reinforced with the truly dope joint ‘U Make My Day’ featuring the vocal talents of Sulpacio Jones. Remember earlier in the article when Configa said, “….music should ALWAYS evoke some kind of visceral response” this is the mantra the rest of ‘Configaration Volume 1’ holds true to and that’s exactly what I got from this track. Man, I had flashbacks to the early 90’s listening to this! Those of you old enough to remember the days of making our own mixtapes with our favourite joints on to cassettes and in amongst the hard hitting rhymes and beats would pop up a soulful R&B joint. Well, that’s what we exactly have here with this little gem of a track. Sulpacio Jones voice beautifully gliding over Configa’s uplifting keys and the dum dum dum of the Double Bass in the background had me reminiscing of dusty, warm, late summer evenings playing B-Ball on the courts.
That soulful joint flows nicely into ‘Pop Off’ where we get a reggae/dancehall vibe from Configa accompanied by the lyrical talents of UK veterans Si Phili and Serocee joined by Queens, NYC’s Corporal AK and our adopted Bajan brother Fdot1 also adds his Caribbean flavour to the track.
Another stand out track featuring some sick UK talent is ‘Mind Control’ The track originally featured on Configa and HaStyle’s dope 2016 LP release ‘Hastility (H1)’ and was a fan favourite. Configa has given it the UK remix treatment featuring a killer verse from one of my favourite UK emcees Genesis Elijah. Check it out here
Configa – ‘Mind Control’ (UK Remix feat. Genesis Elijah, Silas Zephania and HaStyle)
But guess what? On the album release you get a super dope extra verse from East London emcee Skriblah as he kicks the joint off. Configa tells me that the only reason Skribz doesn’t appear in the above visual is they couldn’t get it shot in time.
The album also features an EXCLUSIVE and never before heard verse by the one and only Sean Price recorded just months before his untimely passing. This track contains a hypnotic, menacing, aggressive beat by Configa which the legendary Sean P, with the help of underground sensations Green Tank, ably assist. The video is carefully constructed by the creative genius of GuerillaPress, culminating in a sensational boxing backdrop of photo stills all blended together in an emphatically original and fitting way. Check it here
Configa – Make ‘Em Pay (ft. Sean Price & Green Tank)
Now, there’s a name I haven’t mentioned yet and that’s of a young Chicago emcee that appears on two tracks ‘What’s Your Story’ and closes out the album with ‘Be Like That’ and his name is John Vietnam (JVN). The tracks are posthumous releases as John is sadly no longer with us after he drowned whilst selflessly saving somebody else’s life in a lake. (If you type his name in our search bar you can learn more about him)
Configa says “What started out as an entry for a competition I ran in 2012 to win a place on my album (which John Vietnam won pretty unanimously via the panel) – quickly became something WAY more, due to JVN’s extremely untimely passing, very shortly after. This kid was set to blow, I knew it, and everyone who knew him, or of him, knew it. It’s just an honor to have his vocals bless my beat, bearing in mind what happened shortly afterwards.”
“Anyway, he was a great guy, and understood hip-hop as a CULTURE rather than as just some disposable trash. I’m a hip-hop academic, with a PhD, and this skinny teenager could hold his own with me in a debate – amazing! I just wish we had more 19 year old’s like him to carry the flame. Rest In Power – John Vietnam. Rapper, Poet, B-Boy, Scholar.” Configa added “So the stuff you’re hearing is me in the vaults, remixing, with the blessing of his family.”
As a blogger its easy to focus on the big names that draw in views, trust me they all deliver on the album. However, I felt it really important to shed some light on this talent that is no longer with us, especially as in no way are his lyrical talents overshadowed by the more familiar names that appear on ‘Configaration Volume 1’ and he deserves to be alongside such artists.
We live in a world where it’s a consume and throw away society. In the internet age producers post up beats in batches and sell them off at £30, £50 a beat, some cheaper. Don’t get me wrong I respect their hustle and there are some dope beat makers out there doing it that way. But with Configa, here you have a man who takes time with his craft, sculpts and moulds his soundscapes and carefully selects the artists he wants to work with and always keeps to the raw essence of Hip Hop. I often get angry at people who still try to say “Hip Hop is dead”….. REALLY??? Sorry guys you just ain’t looking in the right places because this album and the HHLAT inbox is testament that Hip Hop is alive and well.
On a personal, more selfish note, if i had one grumble it’s that the album is not going to be available on Vinyl or CD, but that’s just a minor thing. The best way I can sum the album up is…. you know when you’re really looking forward to something for a long time and it arrives, but often doesn’t live up to your expectations, well scrub that notion right now, not only has ‘Configaration Volume 1’ lived up to my expectations, it has exceeded them with this quality release.
‘Configaration Volume 1’ is OUT NOW on Slamjamz Records and available at all good digital retailers below. What you waiting for???? Go cop that dopeness!