An Accomplished Tribute to the Motor City
One of the most anticipated solo debuts of 2013, 8 Miles To Moenart by Terrel Wallace aka Tall Black Guy (TBG), arrives on the back of TBG’s collaborations with artists like The Foreign Exchange, DJ Vadim and Skyzoo; winning the Robert Glasper Remix competition; and receiving heavy co-signs from luminaries including Giles Peterson.
The album is inspired in both concept and style by his native Detroit. The music is sprinkled with dialogue relating to Detroit’s cultural heritage, its economic hardships and the determination of the community to get the city back on its feet. Whilst TBG’s considerate, clean production nods to Nicolay, Timbaland and The Neptunes, his biggest influences are hometown icons such as J Dilla. TBG’s sound encompasses the electronic, the minimal, the organically soulful and the epic all at once.
‘8 Miles To Moenart’ is not in a rush to get anywhere: the seven full-length tracks play like the soundtrack to a ride around the Motor City. ‘Dark Streets’, with its ‘Trans-Europe / Big Booty Express’ train-track percussion and mellow keys, is a fine introduction. Mixing a hypnotic instrumental with dialogue on regeneration efforts and violence within the city, TBG presents both the hopeful and the harrowing. By mimicking the Doppler Effect on the vocal snatches, the words sound like cars, speeding past the listener back into the Detroit night.
‘From Home To Work, And Back…’ is a mellow, head-nodding hip hop joint. The beautiful guitar lick and neck-snapping drums are reminiscent of Slum Village’s ‘The Look of Love’. Ozay Moore’s poignant personification of the city on ‘Mon Amie De’Troit‘ is complimented by TBG’s smooth production: ‘…though you’ve been abused / we believe in you’ Moore reassures. With its incessant beatboxing, warm Rhodes, backwards keyboard stabs and frenetic high hats, ‘The Motor is Running’ is another instant hit, masterfully mixing Timbaland grandeur, relentless trap drums and Detroit’s electronic soul. ‘There’s No More Soul’ featuring Diggs Duke is a warm slice of late night jazz. ‘Rain Into the Nite Outro’ ends the project with a J Dilla / Kev Brown / 9th Wonder-style banger that will have any self-respecting MC within earshot rushing to the vocal booth.
‘8 Miles To Moenart’ cements Tall Black Guy’s position as one of the year’s hottest artists and is a fine addition to Detroit’s musical heritage.