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A Magazine for Sheffield


Listening to this album is like being a pessimistic parent; it’s the peculiar experience of loving something while knowing it will likely never be a success. 1976 presents its listener with this oddity. This instrumental hip hop album requires little said of it. It is magnificent and immensely listenable, yet inevitably its triumph will be muted. It’s something to appreciate, perhaps to love and - if the Chairman gets what he deserves - a download you’ll actually pay for, but it won’t be a hit. In all likelihood, it wasn’t intended as one. But forget intentions - the end product warrants it.

Chairman Maf has been producing his own brand of hip hop for a decade and his skills as a producer are clear. The album demands replaying again and again, so much so that the songs must be stuffed full of additives. Tracks like ‘Rise’, with its bewitching 50s piano, all lounge and charm, playing against a sharp snare, a children’s choir and karate movie gong, or ‘All I Need’, part southern horns, part Marvin Gaye samples are some of the most instantly memorable, tightly packed backdrops I’ve heard of late.

These songs are warm and comforting, but they beg for words over the top. It is an album you may dance to, but not one which voices will ever holler in appreciation to. More likely, it is an album people will drive to, soaking up its glorious hypnotic gorgeousness. Certainly, it is one to share around.

That may be enough for Chairman Maf, but it’s a shame if it is. One wonders if he thinks he doesn’t need a vocalist. It’s shaky logic. The ideas that dance across almost every track could shake clubs the world over - barely hyperbole - with a little freshening and a chorus or two. If there are any singers or rappers out there, find Maf and demand an introduction. If you’re on a label, sign him and assign somebody to him. And for Christ’s sake, somebody please put words to ‘Timer’ and give us the biggest hit of the summer.