DJ-Kicks: Kamaal Williams

Kamaal Williams

DJ-Kicks: Kamaal Williams album art
Jazz-Funk Clubjazz House Broken Beat Jungle/Drum'n'Bass
Kamaal Williams' DJ-Kicks mix is intended as a tribute to London's underground music scene and culture, spanning house, broken beat, jazz-funk, and many other styles. The mix mirrors the selections one might hear on El Primo, the monthly NTS Radio program the artist hosts under his birth name, Henry Wu. As a listening experience, the mix is filled with abrupt switches, change-ups, dissolves, and vibe-out moments, seemingly approximating a night spent trying to visit every club in South London for a few minutes each. It also highlights the artist's skill as both a musician and cratedigger, dropping in several of his own creations (as both Williams and Wu) among dozens of records dating back to the early 1980s. Early on, he includes a live recording of his track "Snitches Brew," released as the B-side of a 2018 single, which flips from a meditative groove to an up-tempo breakbeat wig-out filled with loads of fiery soloing. From there, we hear oddities such as "Space Invaders," a stripped-down Afrofuturist electro track by Lord Tusk, and "Buggin' Out," a mind-blowing piece of hyperactive drum'n'bass by Seiji. The longest stretch with a consistent rhythm occurs in the middle of the mix, when he blends house tracks by Wbeeza, Awanto 3, and Lone (the absolutely ecstatic "Airglow Fires") along with his own productions. Williams brings back more of the jazz with Tenderlonious' flute-heavy "Song for My Father," takes a breather with his own "Shinjuku," dips into the broken beat scene for a bit, then ends everything with "Strings," an extensive jam filled with rubbery bass, wobbly synths, and uplifting sax. The mix superbly demonstrates how the contemporary jazz scene and club culture have cross-pollinated and influenced each other. ~ Paul Simpson