9th Cloud A Monkey in a Yellow Hat

Has it really been that many years now that a new generation of down-tempo hip-hop producers that grew up on DJ Shadow and DJ Krush are now starting to make waves of their own? Looking to steal a little thunder from DJ Cam as the reigning French hip-hop export is 9th Cloud, a young beat-maker that shows some serious promise with his debut, A Monkey in a Yellow Hat. Though simple in its structure — tending to drop a fantastic break beat and riding it with very little change-up — this record packs a stunning punch by creating the sounds that Krush used to make in his early years. This is a very jazz-influenced sound that 9th Cloud has produced, easily making you want to lump him in with the early trip-hop pioneers, but there’s too much life and positive aspects on A Monkey in a Yellow Hat for it to be dismissed as a gloomy hip-hop excursion. Take "Les Mondes Possibles” for example, as Cloud rides a thick bass line and psoriatic snare pops with the sample of a girl’s giggle manipulated many times over until it sounds like someone cleaning a window with Windex. "Physical Vitamin” is a solid instrumental that blends an uplifting chime pattern with guitar strums and "A Blend of the Purest” rocks a steady beat with romantic horns and keys — both appearing earlier this year on a sneak peek EP and both still holding strong months later. MC Runigga lends his vocals to a pair of cuts, and sadly they’re two of the weakest moments, but Rio strengthens the use of verbal accompaniment on "Soldiers of Your Mind” with greater success. A Monkey in a Yellow Hat is a very strong introduction to 9th Cloud and it will be exciting to see how this young man develops his sound in the next couple of years. (Montera)