Lewis Parker & John Robinson - International Summers Review

"It's a celebration of the revival of that warm feeling you used to get"

John Robinson and Lewis Parker mark the arrival of the world's most heated season with the release of 'International Summers'. Dropping on July 5th on the ever burgeoning Project Moon Circle label with John Robinson as the album's frontman, it has a host of features including StarHH, still dope from her recent appearance on DOOM's Born Like This. This album is a solid classic that offers good vibes to all that really listen, crisp slick productions drive the project's MCs through a global safari of the concrete jungle.
 The defining title track is like the first day of summer proper, a sunny dedication to music that brings, like the weather, the best out of humanity. JR and LP deliver clean warm vocals that provide good vibes and make sense. The first lyric lays out what/where/when and insightfully who distributed it:

"Yo The beats sound like summer since the first time I heard of it/
Cats be on the floor like 'damn John Robinson murdered it'/
built with Parker on the plan, we did the album quick like blam/
Project Mooncircle, HHV put it in your hands"

International Summers - John Robinson & Lewis Parker

This homage to the summer life will keep hip hoppers positive throughout the next few months and the year ahead with memories of how good summer 2010 is, was and always will be. The loose narrative of the album kicks-off with travelling as they capture the essence of touring musicians in 'Planes, Trains Automobiles' where the group of four rappers recount the experiences and expectations of physically spanning the map.

In 'Holiday songs' the sounds range through the soulful jazzy hip hop which has become one of the hallmarks of LP's recent style, with wistful trumpet solos that first lead Renee Neufville's beautiful vocals toward JR's smooth clever lyrics. It shows genuine dedication to the artifice of production that can only be achieved with vibrant and talented elements in the studio and in the samples.

Then 'Harlem River Drive' picks up the journey motif which is so strong in this album, taking the listener on a road well-known to the rappers. It really brings out the international tour element, we are getting to visit and be part of another place, one familiar to the performers and probably new to the audience. Capturing this aspect of location and transition is central to movement and displacement which creates a feeling of escapism for those engaged in the album.

'Warrior Princess' has a sublime comparison with 'Moonrise' on the 'Rise and Fall of River Nelson' album, where the former deals with the high praise of the generic figure of womanhood, Robinson here offering many blessings to the female listeners. Whereas River Nelson treats women with similar praise only in his track he uses an individual character to extol the virtues of equality between their romantic connection.

Then we move into the great and grand 'Godz ILLA,' with East Koast, JR, Lewis Parker, Tah Born, 4 Windz and Dynas charging into a huge posse cut, with connections from previous projects creating the vibe above the stormy orchestral horns. Parker's production really is the vehicle for this album to move so much weight, metaphorically "making moves back and forth up town, $60 the cab fee", but the journey in this case is priceless as it travels the variations in an urban cityscape showing off where he is and who he has been working with.

'Dues Paid' is a thoughtful turning point in an album which varies in styles though maintains a very high quality across the lyrical and music standards, with insight and reflection revolving around conscious lyricism. This displays the strengths of the two heavyweights who put this album together. The woodwind section with signature fluent piano here providing a pensive and slow backdrop to the wise words of John Robinson and Lewis Parker.

Dues Paid - John Robinson & Lewis Parker

Whenever these two minds collaborate the album rises to pantheon heights, and no place more so than on 'Ebony Godfather'; LP's funked up production reaches deep into the Blacksploitation genre and further edifies a new era with precise references in hyped and exciting verses and a chorus that champions the values behind their ethos of music.

'Enter the Cosmos' draws on a worldly philosophy and the perspectives that are the rarified specialities of Mr Robinson, the thoughts "Keep it so visual, essence is spiritual, just something to reflect on, I know ya'll feel my truth"

'Dangerous Love Affair' sees JR get into a sticky situation with a femme fatale in a chance meeting in London on the tube, though he doesn't know she is a real gangster's moll. With serious and startling consequences the track puts light hearted romance into focus, a narrative that reminds me of the track "The Tale" by Ty, although here JR creates a whole shady world behind a few days spent in a city. in contrast to Ty who gets mixed up in a character and circumstance "somewhere between April, May or maybe June..."

Far from the early the nineties this album takes it's sound from samples from all eras, maybe the machines and mindset that produce it have grown from that era and there is a similarity in fashion to that classic genre of hip hop, but the main line of the vocals are from fresh writings and inspired authors, a truly great work in hip hop.

Next instalment from this collective will be Lewis Parker's much anticipated sequel To the Puzzle Part 1, and with foundations such as these to build upon, surely a modern metropolis of hip hop awaits us, hopefully for the next decade. Look outside your window, summer has arrived, so go buy this album and make it emanate from your stereo.

Reviewed by J Bodes




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