Our next three Hip-Hop Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Hip-Hop in April, May and June 2023 — feature a genre-liberated debut, a coming-of-age story infused with go-go and a landmark instrumental hip-hop record built on legendary jazz samples.
April: CeeLo’s CeeLo Green and His Perfect Imperfections
In April, VMP Hip-Hop members will receive CeeLo’s CeeLo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, the 2002 solo debut from the former Goodie Mob member who’d reach “Crazy” highs soon after with Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley. The first-ever vinyl reissue of the album, the VMP exclusive edition of the record is pressed on 2LP Red Galaxy Vinyl with lacquers cut by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR and comes with Listening Notes by Dimas Sanfiorenzo.
“There are decades of history and genres infused into CeeLo’s brain. And he just unleashed it all for his debut,” Sanfiorenzo writes. “CeeLo was 26 when he recorded the bulk of his first record, but he was grizzled. CeeLo Green and His Perfect Imperfections is overflowing with ideas and genres, from hip-hop to funk to soul to jazz and even country. From his Goodie Mob days, the central theme of CeeLo’s music has been liberation, whether it was from the trap or from the oppressive hold of commercialization in hip-hop.”
Sanfiorenzo added, “CeeLo wouldn’t find real commercial success until he randomly linked with Danger Mouse and formed Gnarls Barkley, releasing one of the defining songs of the decade, “Crazy.” … You don’t get a “Crazy” without Imperfections. After all of these years, the audience became hip to what CeeLo was doing. That’s the thing about full liberation, it can take some time.”
Sign up now to receive CeeLo Green and His Perfect Imperfections.
May: GoldLink’s At What Cost
Our May Hip-Hop Record of the Month is 2017’s At What Cost, the ambitious major-label debut album from GoldLink. The VMP edition of the record is pressed on 2LP Orange & Blue Galaxy vinyl with lacquers cut by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR, and a Listening Notes booklet by Elijah C. Watson.
“At What Cost is GoldLink’s coming of age story,” Watson writes. “The grief, joys and tragedies of an artist who wants to be something bigger than himself for a city he deeply cares about — even if it sometimes doesn’t seem to care for him. Interwoven in his story is also a celebration and eulogy of a D.C. that has gradually disappeared: a city once affectionately known as the nation’s “Chocolate City,” now not so much, and with that an erasure of Black history, music and spaces that people are trying to keep alive.”
“In order to tell this story,” Watson explains, “GoldLink would have to channel the essence of something beloved not just in the District but its neighboring states, Maryland and Virginia. A motif that would ground the album and help bring together past and present Black music across the DMV to create a rich, musical tapestry that allowed GoldLink to explore the light and dark of a beloved but complicated place: go-go. … All of this culminates in what is still GoldLink’s most ambitious endeavor to date: an album that posits the question “At what cost?” to shed light on a D.C. that’s much different than the one it is now.”
At What Cost will be available for sign-ups starting April 20; sign up to be notified here.
June: Madlib’s Shades of Blue
In June, members of VMP Hip-Hop will receive Madlib’s Shades of Blue, which VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer summed up as “an instrumental hip-hop album made out of the most legendary jazz catalog of all time.” Madlib — who has been featured in VMP subscriptions more than any other artist, twice in Hip-Hop and once in Essentials — was given the keys to Blue Note’s catalog to create Shades of Blue
Celebrating the album’s 20th anniversary, the VMP exclusive edition of the record is pressed on 2LP Green & Blue vinyl with lacquers cut by Cicely Balston at Alchemy Mastering at AIR, and comes with Listening Notes by Dylan “CineMasai” Green.
“As Madlib, Otis was making sun-bleached boom-bap that was the inverse of work by East Coast producers like Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, grimy but warped like the records had been left out in the California heat,” Green writes. “Shades of Blue is an album that both embraces and bucks tradition. Even though it’s known as a remix album, Madlib’s work came from recontextualizing personal favorites through sampling and live-band interpolation.”
Green added, “He wasn’t set on just recreating or remixing these songs — he intertwined his DNA with that of Blue Note, imprinting himself and all his personae into their musical universe forever.”
Shades of Blue will be available for sign-ups starting May 18; sign up to be notified here.