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Various – Best Of BBE 2010

Released in 1996, the very first BBE product was itself a compilation – compiled by Bob Jones and entitled Sophomism Vol.1. Other compilations have been a key part of giving the label its edge, notably Keb Darge’s Funk Spectrum collections which fed a huge appetite for the rawest, dirtiest funk straight from the crates. This latest collection though shows the development of BBE over the past year – excelling at releasing living, breathing bands and beatmakers alike, all of whom still have a reverence for the foundations of jazz, hip-hop and funk that underpin the label.

Not that BBE is stuck in a rut. Right from the start of Spoek Mathambo’s “Mshini Wam” (which itself kicks off with the line “14 year old boy with Klashnikov gun”) you can tell the label has embraced booty-shaking bass music in a big way, with the South African’s banging grime proving a real eye-opener and a proper favourite straight away. Sick Girls’ “V-Skank” is another bold move into bass-quake beats and it’s a truly sick journey through punchy bass, arpeggiated randomness and twisted garage beats.

Elsewhere, hip-hop gets represented by Ty on the Slick Rick-indebted “Don’t Cry”, while soulful gorgeousness is here in abundance – Electric Wire Hustle’s superior “They Don’t Want” for example updates The Temptations’ sound for 2010, while Lady Daisey’s “Promise Sunshine” is a cooing, softly-strummed gem that can’t help evoke a cloud-free summery day. On a similar vibe, Kiwi singer Ladi6 keeps things pared-down and bumping on “Question?”, while styles as diverse as indie (Dark Room Notes) and electro-swing (Bara Brost) get an airing on this collection, as well as Dilla-esque future-soul such as Slakah The Beatchild’s “B-Boy Beef” or Roy Ayres-ish funky fusion like on Georg Levin’s “The Better Life”. BBE has indeed become a broad church, but one that still has quality in abundance.

Oliver Keens