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Album of the month | Black Coffee - Subconsciously

The Afro house guru embraces a lighter sound on Ultra.

Artist: Black Coffee
Title: Subconsciously
Label: Ultra
Released: 5 February

Sounds like: The distinct aroma of deep house, smoothed for mass consumption


Black Coffee

From humble beginnings and through adversity, Black Coffee has endured. His well-documented journey is an inspiration. Not only a feel good story - it's been a rise of meteoric proportions.

Initially, The Night League turned heads by casting him as Hï Ibiza's first ever resident. The intrigue from some and scepticism from others, was quickly dispelled as Black Coffee made Saturday nights his own.

Eschewing the right to look down upon his fans from the Hï altar, he preferred to position himself at their level, in the round. Guests as diverse as Virgil Abloh and Nastia were delivered, as his self-named party flourished.

Behind the decks, he successfully manoeuvred away from being labelled a novelty act, to rightfully being considered a technical genius.

On the music front, his presence was amplified having already been prolific. Wouldbe collaborators were queuing up to work with him as South Africa found its spokesperson.

Finally it had a voice, better, a sound on the international stage.

A continent long overlooked for its cultural and artistic exploits cheered from the sidelines.

Now, as they watch on, their hero takes his sound to L.A. for his next album with the biggest producers in the world lined-up for collaborations.


sUBCONSCIOUSLY

How does the new LP stack up against his earlier material?

We start with Lost, whose vocal leads listeners down the garden path on the album's opener. Jinadu has shades of veteran house vocalist Richard Judge.

The pitter-patter of piano keys is trademark Black Coffee, but this is an evolution in sound compared to 2016's Pieces Of Me.

Subconsciously seeks to open its composer up to a wider audience.

The big R&B names add Hollywood-credentials and will attract the attention of new listeners. The iTunes generation will be instinctively drawn towards the collabs with Guetta, Diplo, Usher and Pharrell Williams.

However, it's Black Coffee's ear for scouting new talent that is the real brag. Maxine Ashley, Sabrina Claudio, Jozzy and Delilah Montagu all shine, while the classy Celeste shows why she is the industry's hottest property.

Later, Flava sounds like a Martin Solveig radio hit slowed down to a pace of 100 bpm.

The real question will be whether Subconsciously is energetic enough to excite the US youth market.

Even if the album falls short in that respect, it feels inevitable Black Coffee will soon be producing for popstars in the mould of Rihanna and Katy Perry.

Still, we'd be weary at labelling this a straight-up pop record. It isn't. More accurately, it's a deep house long player made palatable for the uninitiated.

Black Coffee has never limited himself solely under the label of house. First and foremost, he's an ambassador of music. Afropolitan is how it is being marketed.

We sense that Black Coffee's nation of fans is more loyal and less fickle than those outspoken dance music critics who ferociously gatekeep genres.

In his homeland, the biggest indicator of success is wielding influence on a global stage.

No doubt his followers will be forming a guard of honour that stretches from Durban all the way to Venice Beach.

The rise continues.

Highlights: Lost, You Need Me, I'm Fallin', LaLaLa

Subconsciously is out now and available to stream and purchase at all the usual places.

To discover more music the Ibiza Spotlight team are enjoying right now, head over to our Spotify profile and click subscribe!


Other huge albums released this month:

Christian Löffler | Parallels | Deutsche Grammophon | 12 Feb
SG Lewis | times | EMI | 19 Feb
Dense & Pika | Colour Burn | Kneaded Pains | 26 Feb
DJ Spen | Soulful Storm | Quantize | 26 Feb
John Tejada | Year Of The Living Dead | Kompakt | 26 Feb


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