Album: To The End
Release: February 11, 2015 (original digital release)
Our Take: “Buy It”
Last week, Chicago producer Fiendsh issued his first physical release via Cold Busted Records. The CD release is of his most recent tape, 2015’s To The End. The former Thailand-native has been steadily putting out releases via the Chicago collective Flawless League since 2014. Fiendsh’s releases have very obvious influences of early Kanye West and J Dilla, while he does an excellent job taking samples from some of the most famous artists of the 70s and 80s and turning them into carefully crafted gorgeous and ethereal pieces.
To The End is Fiendsh’s first full-length project, with just a couple EPs preceding it. And the record is the young artist’s most cohesive one yet. The sampled artists include Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, Amy Winehouse, Ahmad Jamal, Kool & The Gang, Curtis Mayfield, and Miles Davis which gives the production that vintage and soulful early 2000s feel. Typically, the tracks also employ a boom-bap style that just beg a capable MC to carry a flow over the infectious pieces. “There Will Be Tears” is an excellent reimaging of the Mr. Hudson track which carries the same name. The track relies on a creeping piano that carries the same melody, while drum tracks and distant vocals build around it. The song is heartbreaking in a similar way to the original, but packs a uniquely reflective kind of power. Revisiting these old sounds and samples seems to be the working theme of To The End which should trigger a flood of older hip-hop standards in the listener’s mind.
This album is absolutely a record for hip-hop producers and hip-hop fans. A lot of these samples and production styles should feel similar, but with a new or unique piece of layering that makes them sound new. This collection of tracks was made by a total hip-hop fanatic for hip-hop fanatics. Listening to this record is akin to when you would rewind a VHS tape as a kid, but watch all your favorite scenes go by in reverse while brimming with the excitement of enjoying them again. The album is a tribute to everything that made that early 2000s production style so memorable. Fans of instrumental hip-hop especially the aforementioned artists should immediately fall in love with this release because of the classic production style. Many of tracks sound like they already could be hits and that is because many of them were. Many of these samples were probably on one of your favorite hip-hop albums from the last 15 years. These sounds are so classic that it was difficult to imagine them out of their original context when they initially were plucked by the likes of Dilla and West, yet these artists were able to make the sounds their own. Now Fiendsh has come along and recycled these worn out tracks, sewn them together, updated the design, and done something new – giving familiar sounds a brand new life. We can acknowledge how great the sounds have been before, but Fiendsh proves that new ideas can make the frequently remixed pieces sound completely new and exciting again.
It will be interesting to see what Fiendsh has in store next, but he more than likely will not keep us waiting long given his penchant for dropping releases early in the year. The up-and-coming producer wears his influences so obviously that you even start to hope he’ll be ready to take a risk in order to develop his own unique brand and style. Tracks like the seven-minute “Summer Rain” are evident of how wide scope his ideas can be. These are not just snippets like the way “Donuts” was. These are fully fleshed out ideas, but they sit on ground that has already been thoroughly explored. Surprising and new samples could set Fiendsh apart and begin a revival of this same production style in Chicago that seems to have been cast aside. To The End showcases an artist with a strong ability to sample and grasp a new catchiness within something that had seemingly been already established.