It seemed like all of the best records of 2014 came within two weeks of each other. From October 21 until November 4, we received albums from Run the Jewels, T.I., Black Milk, Ras Kass, Logic, Stalley and many more. So when Theophilus London released his sophomore effort, “Vibes” on November 4, it was largely overlooked.
After giving it a few spins when it first released, I liked it a lot, but quickly moved on to other projects that came out around the same time. After a flurry of releases in December (mostly D’Angelo), I finally re-visited “Vibes” in January, and it’s been in constant rotation since.
“Vibes” is executive produced by three brilliant minds, Theophilus London, Kanye West and Leon Ware, all of whom are dedicated to push the boundaries of hip hop and blur the lines of genre. The production on this record was among the best of 2014, and contains elements of soul, funk, dancehall, electronic and other genres and styles.
“Neu Law” is post-Yeezus electronic hip hop, with its abrasive synthesizers that sound an awful lot like Daft Punk’s playing on “On Sight.” The Jesse Boykins III-featured “Tribes” and “Smoke Dancehall” feature dancehall vibes, and “Need Somebody” sounds like pure 80s pop bliss. “Can’t Stop” is probably the most straightforward hip hop track on the album, and it’s really a damn shame it wasn’t one of the biggest radio hits of 2014 because it’s one of the best pop-rap songs I’ve heard in a long time. The track features Kanye West, who raps “Everything she was doin’ was cool, but it ain’t Ralph though.” “Can’t Stop” also lists Bink! as a co-producer, and has a wonderful breakdown on the last couple of minutes.
“Vibes” is a very appropriate title for a Theophilus London album because that’s what the Trinidadian rapper is all about. He’s a very capable rapper who can also carry a tune, but his lyrics often take a back seat to his cadences and grooves. “Vibes” is a very sexual record, with songs like “Heartbreaker” and “Do Girls” which sound like a sloppy, drunken night in Brooklyn.
“Vibes” is a very fun, laidback album. While the last two months of 2014, I was more focused on content-driven albums like D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” and Big K.R.I.T.’s “Cadillactica.” But now that the slow winter months are upon us, I’m finding myself wanting to just chill out and well, vibe. And Theophilus London’s “Vibes” is the perfect record for that.