Choosey & Exile – Black Beans (Dirty Science Records)

Dirty Science artist and San Diego native Choosey once again links up with the legendary hip hop producer Exile, this time around with Black Beans, a full project which somehow does a wonderful job dissecting a plethora of social issues while at the same time transporting you to the front seat of a 1960’s Cadillac cruising down the sun-soaked streets of California.

On this record, Choosey utilises his signature smooth tone and laid back delivery to give us a glimpse into his unique cultural upbringing – the product of both African American and Chicano cultures – remarking on the album’s title track ‘I’m a mix of enchiladas and fried chicken/daishikis and pendletons’ perfectly summing up the dichotomy of growing up as an Afro-chicano in a time when the perception was that the cultures were very much at odds.

Sprinkled throughout the record are samples of spoken word which help to further illustrate the position Choosey finds himself in, that of wanting to be authentic to both sides of his genealogy and bring the two together for a total that is more than the sum of its parts. Exile almost seems to take this ethos to heart in his production throughout, perfectly melding the traditional tropes of his production style which has always been authentically rooted in beautiful soul samples and hip hop drum beats, but this time around reaching for Spanish guitar and Latin horn sounds to truly elevate the music to that of the subject matter.

Choosey is nothing if not a ladies man and while this record does serve as a nostalgic trip down memory lane and the cultural experiences that formed him, he would be remiss not to direct some of that smooth styling towards the female form, especially on tracks such as the Blu and Ana Tijoux assisted ‘Brown and Beautiful’ or ‘Teen Angel’.

The lead single from the project, ‘Low Low’ sees Exile enlist good friend and the other half of Emanon – Aloe Blacc. Aloe sings an ode to the Lowrider as Choosey raps ambitiously to all the ways in which his life would be enriched were he to be cruising the streets in such a Chicano staple automobile all over one of the brightest beats on the album which just oozes sunlight straight into your subconscious – a song which I’m sure will be a summer favourite for me.

Dirty Science label mate Fashawn also guests on the track ‘Satisifed’ which sees the two riff on their misunderstood childhoods with Fashawn painting a vivid picture ‘Didn’t get everything I wanted, but had everything I needed/had a roof over my head, a toilet under my ass/a pot to piss in, only thing really missing was dad’ and with Choosey singing the chorus over simple piano led production telling us exactly why we shouldn’t forget the small satisfactions in life.

The album closes with a wonderfully nostalgic ode to family, the unique parents who made Choosey the man he is as he tributes that ‘we had nothing in abundance, but the love we was rich in it’ while Ishe provides a particularly poignant chorus as she sings ‘this ain’t no ordinary love/it’s an extraordinary love/I’m thankful for the love of mi familia’

All in all, this album screams summer from start to finish with Exile providing the perfect backdrops for Choosey to effortlessly soundtrack the warm months that are closely approaching us!

Album rating: Favourable (3.5 stars)

Poor: 0-2 Stars / Favourable: 2-4 stars / Highly Recommended: 4-5 stars

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