Makaya McCraven and Gil Scott-Heron: We're New Here

For Makaya McCraven, sampling is a means of remembrance. The Chicago-based drummer and producer has spent recent years honing his studio style to incorporate samples of his own improvised live performances, overwritten and rerecorded. The result is a series of palimpsest records: In the Moment (2015), Where We Come From (2018) and Universal Beings (2018) – all exercises in using the studio as another means of improvisation, finding difference in the repetition of the same motifs.

This self-remixing style makes him an ideal interpreter for a 10th-anniversary reimagining of Gil Scott-Heron’s final album, I’m New Here. Not only are they both musicians from Chicago but McCraven’s drummer father played with Scott-Heron’s proto hip-hop contemporaries the Last Poets. And it is this playing that McCraven Jr samples on his reworking of New York Is Killing Me, adding a punchy phrasing to Scott-Heron’s inimitable, pain-stricken growl.

Read the review in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 07/02/20]