If you go nuts for Donuts you’re going to love Suff Daddy’s ‘Suff Sells’. This is clearly the work of a man that has studied at the seminary of the church of Dilla. Don’t underestimate him as a straight rip of Dilla though. There’s more than meets the ear to Suff Daddy.
It’s true that initial impressions of this album, the German producer’s third, are that it’s some premium off-cuts from mid-90’s Pharcyde or A Tribe Called Quest. Upon further listenings though, it opens up to reveal a signature style at it’s core. Yes, the influence is there for all to see but it’s nice to see that Suff Daddy is doing things for himself too.
There are some lovely Jazz tinged cuts here ‘P.G.O.B’, ‘Feelin Allright’ and ‘Pattern Select’ display that Suff Daddy has, like many of us, followed the path that hip hop started us on and gone on to investigate the Jazz that influences so much of our favourite hip hop.
A definite Europen flavour infuses a lot of the album too. It almost feels Parisian at times. Imagine Air and Daft Punk getting together to do a Dilla tribute record and that goes some way to giving a flavour of some of what’s on offer here. The other prime area of influence for hip hop, funk, is also ever present here. There’s a liberal slathering of Zapp/Parliament style synth on this album. Tracks like ‘Quicc Beat’, ‘Giscar Sob’ and (the Galt MacDermot’s ‘Cathedral’ sampling) ‘Suff Disco’ would definitely receive the Troutman seal of approval. Although ‘Suff Disco’ loses marks for using a sample that (the man, the legend) DOOM had already made into one of his Special Herbs (Pennyroyal, I believe).
Early electro also makes an appearance on Suff Daddy’s aural pallet. ‘Take’em To The Kiosk’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Whodini album. I have to admit that this tickled my inner seven year old. Don’t worry though, it’s not all Galoises and Jazz guitar. Suff Daddy still shows us that he can give us bumping beats like the best of them. ‘Dr. Banard’, ‘Make It Drip’ and ‘Dilemma’ are sure to have you head nodding and toe tapping like an m’er f’er.
Suff Daddy – Dilemma
There’s a lyricism to the synths that lead a lot of the tracks here. Suff Daddy doesn’t need words; he paints pictures with his notes. ‘Bad Night Out’ really gives you the impression of something unpleasant occurring. It’s claustrophobic and menacing and the choppy synth that leads it gives a real sense of chaos and confusion.
There are a few tracks here with vocals. ‘P.G.O.B.’ has Miles Bonny giving it a nu-jazz style smooth singing vibe (fantastically punctuated by a Meth’ sample). ‘Stein Im Brett’ has Fleur Earth rapping in German. She’s got a good voice but I don’t speak German so I have literally no idea what she’s saying. The standout vocal performance is a tough call between Phat Kat & Elzhi on ‘Det2bln’ and Vertual Vertigo on ‘Twisted’ but the latter just edges it for me (video, left).
I’ve been listening to this on repeat for the last few days and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. My overarching impression is that Suff Daddy has a real love of hip hop and has correctly recognised the best bits and distilled them into the seeding ground of his own compostions. It’s almost like a retrospective of hip hop styles. If one were feeling churlish one might accuse Suff Daddy of showing off but it’s likely that one will be too busy head nodding to care.
Suff Sells is out now on CD, vinyl and digital on Melting Pot Music