Chicago-born, Nigerian-raised twins Taiwo and Kehinde Hassan aka Christian Rich, have a multitude of high profile production credits on records from behemoths like Drake, J. Cole and Earl Sweatshirt. Whilst their most recognisable work may sit firmly within contemporary Rap and Hip-Hop, their debut album ‘FW14’ sees them traverse the myriad sounds they absorbed growing up, including Nigerian Fuji music, smooth Pop, and Bossa Nova – all through an intergalactic lens.
Instantly striking about ‘FW14’ is how it abruptly transforms in sound and sentiment from track to track. Intro ‘Yellow Moon’ evokes the sun-kissed breeziness of Robert Glasper before dropping into brazen club belter ‘High’, featuring Bia and Vince Staples (Christian Rich contributed two tracks to the Long Beach rapper’s ‘Summertime ’06’). Staples’ biting delivery along with pummelling 808s and kicks that sound like a thousand slamming doors, give it the most club focussed direction on the album. It’s this minimal approach to arrangement and melody that shines through on so many Christian Rich productions.
The more sultry realms of laid back R&B are explored on ‘Real Love’, with sleek funk guitar and bass pops channelling the candle-lit aura of Sade – unsurprising given the band was a constant presence in Taiwo and Kehinde’s childhood home. Canadian singer Akua transmits a more haunting sentiment on ‘Glory’ with tightly wound ticking percussion that would fit comfortably on FKA twigs’ ‘EP2’. Akua’s indiscernible rapid vocal runs in the chorus teeter on the edge of out of time and out of control, eliciting a feverish giddiness that is the album’s stand out moment.
When a production force has worked on so many formidable projects, they can often lose sight of their own creative vision. Christian Rich have largely avoided this pitfall. The only track without a feature – bold and brazen Hip-Hop beat ‘Seven’ – shows just how far the Hassan twins can carry a song without accompaniment. Achieving the levels of success their past mentors N.E.R.D. enjoyed should not be ruled out for Taiwo and Kehinde.
‘FW14’ is out now on Lucky Number Music. Order it here.
Words: Hugo Laing