Imani vol.1, instrumentals

Blackalicious, 2015

While I've a stack of personal reasons why hip hop instrumentals have so much appeal for me, Blackalicious' Imani Instrumentals play less as hip hop and more like as one of the best downtempo records I've heard in ages. These tracks are so tightly constructed, they don't feel at all like an audio collage and nearly feel more like an actual band. Downtempo can be easy to malign—I've often called it restraunica: electronic music designed to sound hip enough, but to ultimately be ignored. The (retro) hip hop origins of Imani lend it just enough sharp snap and deep thump to keep it from simply receding into the head-nodding background.