REVIEW: Nathaniel Merriweather Presents Lovage…

Lovage

Artist: The Automator

Album: Nathaniel Merriweather Presents Lovage…

Label: 75ark

Rating: 8 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

Dan “The Automator” Nakamura has always had a reputation for crazy ideas, and wacky projects. He’s also kept his fanbase happy with his work on a string of Hiphop must-haves, working with big names like Kool Keith, Del, Prince Paul.

In my opinion, though he has started to falter a little, some of the last few releases involving Dan have been a little… um…. boring. It just seems to me that the farther leftfield he tries to be, the more he causes me to lose interest. Example in point – most people fell over themselves to jock the Deltron release – I found it hard to get into, and hard work to listen to. Ditto on that Gorillaz album, where despite major input from Dan and Del, it was hard to get this to qualify as a “pure” Hiphop release. Maybe its just me, but sometimes I feel that you can experiment a little too much…

Anyways… this is Dan’s latest album, and this time he’s working under the guise of “Nathaniel Merriweather”. The full title of the album “Lovage… Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By”, more or less hints at what is to come – I expected a lot of slow paced beats on here – the question was how relevant to Hiphop was this joint going to be?

After the intro by Prince Paul (aka “Chest Rockwell”) in his usual style, we start proper with ‘Pit Stop’. I’m instantly loving the beats – a tinkling piano sample, with a laidback drum pattern. One problem though, and one that continues throughout – no emcees. We get Jennifer Charles, and Faith No More’s Mike Patton adding vocals to most of the songs.

“So why is he even reviewing this on a Hiphop site?” I hear you ask. Well, unlike the Gorillaz album, I consider this one relevant to Hiphop heads. This, for want of a better phrase, is “Hiphop Lounge Music” – just something to throw on while you’re chilling, something mellow to be playing in the background – we can’t listen to MOP all the time! Add to this the fact that we have appearances from Prince Paul, Afrika Bambaata, Kid Koala, and Mase from De La, and you can see that it starts to become more relevant. To be fair, the tracks involving Bam and Mase are little more than interludes, but Koala’s display of his skills on ‘Everyone Has A Summer’ is dope.

Other standout tracks are the mellow, sexy ‘Stroker Ace’ with its insistent horns and its “stroke that” hook, the more uptempo ‘Book Of The Month’ – the beats on here are illy, and ‘Strangers On A Train’ where Dan’s production skills really come to the fore, as he layers a haunting female vocal over a punchy beat (is this a ‘Get Out Of My Life, Woman’ sample?) and another plinky plonky piano routine.

Summing up – a great Hiphop album? No. A great album? Most definately. Some Hiphop heads may turn their noses up at this, but they’d be missing out on a treat. Others may be feeling the beats, but not the vocals. Lucky you – 75ark has catered for you by making an instrumental version of this album available.

This is one of these albums where you just have to take it for what it is. It ain’t trying to be a Dr Octagon album. It ain’t trying to follow the Jay-Z’s and DMX’s. This is “Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By…” and you know what? You probably could.

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