Most of the world was caught by surprise last year when spoken word icon Gil Scott-Heron reappeared on the scene 16 years after his last studio album with the mind-blowing futuristic techno-blues album I'm New Here. When word started spreading that The xx's resident electronic percussion whiz, Jamie xx (aka Jamie Smith), was remixing the entire album, you couldn't help but fear the label was just trying to milk every last drop from the original.
However, if you've been following Smith's career closely, you know that the young producer has some impressive chops and takes his electronic music very seriously. Sure enough, We're New Here is an adventurous journey through cutting-edge leftfield dance music, lifting ideas from across the last two decades of club and bedroom beats. It could easily stand on its own without Scott-Heron's raspy vocals, but it's the interplay between his world-weary lyrics and Smith's youthful enthusiasm that makes this an essential companion piece to the original. No wonder Drake has brought Smith on board to help produce his next album.
Top track: NY Is Killin' Me