L’Orange is a beatmaker from North Carolina; he isn’t from a french speaking country, as the name might suggest. He has been putting out projects that are mostly instrumental hiphop for quite some time now. The new release, The Mad Writer, doesn’t have the same precise conceptual effort of his previous Old Soul record (which was an homage to Billie Holiday). It’s more subtle in its approach but still stylistically very close.
Of course, being surrounded by great vocalists (Blu, Has-Lo, yU and the beautiful voice of Erica Lane) helps give the project a direction. The vocal samples from movies of the same period as the main musical samplings gives an interesting vibe to the album. Joyous yet not ecstatic, in a word, “jazzy”.
As opposed to many jazz oriented beatmakers, L’Orange doesn’t try to hide or disguise the fact that he is sampling. On many cuts like The Dust Collector or The Quiet Room, the vocal breaks and musical passages are chopped in a machine-like fashion making them sound as coming from those vinyl records they come from and not from session musicians. Call it “musical honesty” or simply “love of what is being sampled”.
I really liked Imaginary Friend with his mix of Django Reinhardt style guitar, the famous vocal chops and the soothing vocal harmonies. The Alone track is also a favorite because of one of the best performances of Blu‘s career.