ALUMNI ROUNDUP 2017: The Year in Review

We may have shut our doors in 2016, but 2017 was still a banner year for the World Around family. Here’s a list of all the new music released by former World Around artists.

Louis MackeyAVGVSTVS

This long-awaited LP from rap classicist Louis Mackey features some of his deftest, most heartfelt lyricism to date, signalling a huge step forward in style while simultaneously serving as a return to the funkier roots of his early work. The whole affair is conducted over a backdrop of Dr. Quandary beats with a distinctly dusty, old-school vibe, adding to the air of nostalgia.

Man MantisBoss Skeleton + Dawn of the Def (Reissue)

Released in July, Man Mantis’ Boss Skeleton is a collection older tracks from his Majestic Dimensions EP series. The project features Mantis’ signature sonic landscapes, lush with otherworldly synthesizers. Though mostly instrumental, you’ll find a couple of expertly-placed, late-game features from Terra Lopez, Nocando, Decomposure & Sole.

As if new Mantis wasn’t enough, we also got some classic Mantis: as an added year-end bonus, the long-defunct imprint Loretta Records resurfaced in December with an official dead-stock reissue of his 2005 debut, Dawn of the Def. The album follows in the footsteps of RJD2’s Deadringer, blending soul & funk into a cinematic instrumental experience.

S.maharbaMirror & Veil

The latest EP from UK gloom king S.maharba is a short but potent release suffused with all of the hallmark of his style: haunting melodies, atmospheric synths, melancholy samples & booming reverb, all beautifully tailored into an incredibly dynamic & unique listening experience.

Dr. QuandaryWayfarers II + Jukebox Buddha

A spiritual sequel to 2013’s Wayfarers, Wayfarers II is a full-length anthology album, collecting 11 obscure Dr. Quandary instrumentals which were originally compilation exclusives, collaborative tracks, or entirely unreleased. Much like the original, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, feeling more like a cohesive album than a beat tape or a compilation.

On his newest LP, released in October, Dr. Quandary’s signature style has been pushed to the next step, with layer upon layer of dusty drums & moody psychedelic samples creating an intricate sonic backdrop for a diverse cast of long-time friends & collaborators, including Has-Lo, Elder Orange, Louis Mackey, Astrid Engberg, PremRock, Zilla Rocca, Godforbid & TIMESCANNER.

Career CrooksTake What’s Coming EP + Good Luck With That

2017 was an insane year for Career Crooks, the official team effort from Zilla Rocca & producer Small Professor. After announcing their addition to the URBNET roster, they released the Take What’s Coming EP, then promptly brought their extended Wrecking Crew family out in force for their stellar full-length debut, Good Luck With That. The highly-lauded album is a pitch-perfect love letter to hip-hop’s late Golden Age while still managing to remain forward-thinking & innovative.

Fort Ancient RecordsGrocery Choppin’ + Gatsby

While we didn’t see any new solo material from Waldo from Cincinatti, there’s been a steady stream of music rolling forth from his new base of operations at Fort Ancient Records, a Cincinnati-based beat collective including producers Homage (CVG), Dren AD, Samuel Steezmore & Phonophage. Their album Gatsby is a tribute to the Jazz Age & the exploits of the titular F. Scott Fitzgerald character, featuring all five members of the Fort Ancient squad working in unison on the beats.

On top of that, we got Grocery Choppin’ in February. The album is a loosely-conceptual collaborative project from Homage & Waldo sporting an infectious mix of jazz, soul, funk & breaks, all chopped to perfection. On top of being a great instrumental record, it’s in service of a great cause, with all proceeds generated going toward a co-op grocery share for low-income families at Apple Street Market in Cincinnati.

Places & SpacesAlive

This stunning debut album from Places & Spaces (Naturetone & long-time friend/collaborator Zooki) is a tribute to their shared history in hip-hop — a beautiful instrumental offering pared down to the basics, chock full of snappy breaks & soulful sampling. This one is a must-have for lovers of Dilla, Madlib & Pete Rock.

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