Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
TUKA- J Cole, ‘Swimming’ (2018)
I was never totally sold on Cole until this album, absolute masterpiece.
I feel like he cracked me open with this one. I was exhausted when I discovered this album and I really found myself relating to a lot of what he had to say. I was touring around the country with Thundamentals on our 10 year anniversary tour and this was the soundtrack for the tour van, we did something like 80 gigs in roughly 5 months or something like that, it was basically sold out, wild times. He speaks a lot about the pitfalls of the music industry and it was particularly apt for that time and space in my own music career.
Aside from my own BS, I feel like he married trap and boom-bap beautifully. He and Kendrick are roughly my age and generation and this transition between these two styles has now played out through our careers (totally different scale to me obviously). The sonic landscape of my genre had completely shifted since I started, it’s a great thing but I needed to adjust to it. We were in the early stages of writing our next album and I was particularly sensitive to the music climate and trap’s influence on hip hop and pop music in general. This album was a great insight into how to retain a more traditional sound of boom bap but still incorporate trap drum and bass production methods. That, in turn, affects the songwriting of the vocal performance. Thundamentals’ 2018 album I Love Songs is trying to do the same thing, we referenced a lot more RnB influence than Cole perhaps but that was the aim, to marry to the two styles. It’s almost like a software update, lol.
There is amazing lyricism and songwriting on this one, a crazy record I could talk about it for days in terms of topics he’s covering.
On a conceptual level the album’s tackling the human experience, he really does touch on a lot, sometimes one line can represent anything you need it to. His writing and tone is extremely vulnerable on this album, it’s refreshing. Not a new sound for him but he really hits the spot for me.
Tuka’s third full-length solo album ‘Nothing In Common But Us’ is out now. Listen here.