A curation of soulful and flavorsome sounds that samples the music of Yemen in hopes of saving it.
Sampling has long allowed artists to imbue their sounds with a sense of soul. By capturing the emotion, atmosphere, and era of other performances today’s beatmakers can access new worlds of sound. The crucial flaw in this is that most will naturally gravitate to what they know, or what’s popular; we end up with thousands of guitar loops for trap, jazz for lofi, dissonant strings for drill. Most of the time the source material is of Western origin. We Like Chops – a young label out of Portland, Oregon – are asking why this is. Their self-titled compilation series challenges a crop of producers to use the music of specific countries in their loops. The second, and latest, instalment focuses on the rich sounds of Yemen, a nation torn apart by war and famine.
Musically the project is diversified by a wide array of samples and a new beatmaker for each of its 17 tracks. Some tracks, like Jacob Barlow’s bombastic “allah!” rely on a spindly chorus, with spare interference. Others are more informed by the standard hip-hop palette; “slowdown” and “Yea Man”, by Killer Kane and moye. respectively, use Yemeni influence to accent lowkey and thoughtful drum-driven pieces. There’s an immediate curiosity to the project, all thanks to its inspiration. Each tune is lovingly created and nowhere is the premise treated as a gimmick, but it’s impossible to shake a deeply mournful overtone. “V2” is a charity album and explains its aim in the Bandcamp description;
“100% of the proceeds for this project will go to direct relief charities to help counteract the ongoing famine in Yemen”
As e’s “joggin round the hourglass” fades from a curious mesh of digital and analogue to a porous memory of fog and static Yemen’s inhumane reality comes back to mind. These moments, such as the muted rush that carries “Vegam” by Argov, prevent “V2” from feeling self righteous.
Celebration is still somehow the main force of “V2”. The record does not wallow in the depravity of Yemen’s ongoing crisis, instead envisioning the world of colour Yemen once was and hopefully will be once again. Trill Walton’s “Gucci Adlib” and OLDBOY’s “Madfoon” are both standouts for their precision and multifaceted sound design. “Khat” sees JHershey channel the idea of īqāʿāt – varied rhythmic modes – into their drum lines. It’s a high quality collection from all angles. “V2” is a reminder that nations are so much more than politics and war, that the life and art within them is always worth saving.
There is no right way to give to charity. 108MICS supports We Like Chops’ mission AND people’s right to choose their own way to donate. We’d also like to highlight the ICRC’s mission in Yemen.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)