(Young Turks ***)
nolead ends Like the process of rebuilding the 76ers that fans have been asked to so patiently trust, Sampha's The Process has been a long time in coming. The British songwriter born Sampha Sisay released his first EP, Sundanza in 2010 and has slowly and steadily built anticipation for his full-length debut with carefully plotted, ever more high-profile collaborations with Solange, Drake, and Kanye West. The Process comes to haunting fruition on this powerfully personal collection, in which the south London singer carves out an electro-soul space akin to post-modern R&B purveyors like Frank Ocean (whose Endless he also guested on), but with an even more intimate alone-at-the-keyboard sensibility. Sampha's becalmed vocals expertly convey emotional fragility in songs in which skittering beats and heartfelt musings are rarely at cross purposes. The most effective performance on The Process, though, is "Nobody Knows Me (Like the Piano)," which finds him giving props to the instrument in his mother's house to which he owes his self-realization: "You would show me I have something some people call a soul." - Dan DeLuca
Sampha opens for The xx May 17 at the Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave. Tickets: $39.50. Information: 800-745-3000, MannCenter.org.
nolead begins Migos
nolead ends nolead begins C U L T U R E
nolead ends nolead begins (Quality Control/300 Entertainment ****)
nolead ends When Atlanta creator Donald Glover shouted out Migos - the Georgian, experimental hip-hop trio - during his win at the Golden Globes in January, it was the first time many heard the name. Mainstream anonymity didn't last long, as Migos' spare "Bad and Boujee," complete with weird breathy shooshes and mentions from Philly's Lil Uzi Ver, hit Billboard's No. 1 spot before month's end. For rap aficionados, however, Migos has been generating clever, oddball tracks with a genuine knack for the contagious since 2013's "Versace."
For Migos' mostly somber, full-length sophomore effort, rappers Quavo (the quavering floaty MC), Offset (the edgy one), and Takeoff (the bass voice) have refined the jagged tips and jarring flips of 2015's Yung Rich Nation without losing its cranky, fringy funk. On the Auto-Tuned "Get Right Witcha" and "T-Shirt," the trio's texts flow through one another. Ruminative pianos stay Satie-still ("Brown Paper Bag") or grow grand on the theatrically orchestrated "Deadz" and "Big on Big." Yet Migos gets bigger still with what is 2017's first amazing album, whose memory should linger into 2018 and beyond. - A.D. Amorosi
nolead begins Thievery Corporation
nolead ends nolead begins The Temple of I & I
nolead ends nolead begins (ESL ***)
nolead ends Washington's Thievery Corporation at their best have transmuted diverse genres into an appealing groove: Whether they're collaborating with Bebel Gilberto, Femi Kuti, or the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, they can turn an album into an easily digestible, if sometimes politically provocative, mixtape. At their worst, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, who curate the band with a DJ's sensibility, risk seeming like cultural tourists, willfully dabbling in world music styles or jazz or hip-hop.
The Temple of I & I falls in the middle of that spectrum: Although dub has always been a core element in Thievery Corporation's trip-hop melting pot, this time they go all-in with Jamaican styles, similar to their exploration of Brazilian music on 2014's Saudade. Regular collaborators such as the sweet-voiced Lou Lou and the socially conscious rapper Mr. Lif appear, as do newly recruited Jamaican singer Racquel Jones, and the album flows smoothly, if almost too much so. - Steve Klinge