Feature

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx: We’re New Here

Smith has remixed Scott-Heron's 2010 comeback album into an almost entirely new creation.

(XL Recordings)

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Producer Jamie Smith of the band the xx is “truly a master of his craft,” said Kitty Empire in the London Observer. While fans await his London trio’s next release, the 21-year-old has taken a “splendid” 2010 comeback album from hip-hop legend Gil Scott-Heron and created a full-length remix that’s almost entirely a new creation. Only on “Home” do Smith’s innovations interfere with the power of Scott-Heron’s words. More typical is his take on “Running.” As “fat, muffled beats play off against cut-up samples and a superbly woozy hook,” any relationship to the original is almost incidental. Smith not only “preserves the power of his source material, he makes it more relevant,” said Louise Brailey in NME​.com. On tracks like “Ur Soul and Mine,” he “coaxes fresh narratives” from Scott-Heron’s tales of despair by making them more danceable. The music may sound as if “filtered through the gauze” of Scott-Heron’s “drug-withered memory,” but it also points toward spiritual deliverance.

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