Genre designations of Hiatus Kaiyote’s music such as “neo-soul”, “future soul” and “jazz funk” can be summed up in one self-described word: wondercore. To the Australian-based quartet, this term describes their sound better than any critic’s cut-and-dry characterization of their music ever could.
So, what does their music sound like? In one breath, their sound is steeped in the traditions of Erykah Badu and D’Angelo – evidenced by the watery Rhodes pianos and laid back grooves present in many of their records (see “Fingerprints” and “Nakamarra”). In another breath – even in the same track, at times – their sound veers into uncharted territory, employing futuristic synths, jarring starts and stops and asymmetrical time signatures (see “Atari” and “By Fire”). Their music embodies both the familiar and the otherworldly – in a word, Hiatus Kaiyote’s sound is multidimensional.
After the release of their debut album, Tawk Tomahawk, Hiatus Kaiyote received endorsements from artists like Questlove and Prince, and the group began building an international following. They have since become a favorite for hip-hop producers, with their music sampled in tracks by Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. My first exposure to their music was through Drake, whose track “Free Smoke” sampled the beautiful “Building a Ladder”.
Since the release of Choose Your Weapon in 2015, the group has been pretty quiet. With the band’s members focusing on side projects and solo material, not much is known about the status of their third studio album. Whether it is released tomorrow or five years from now, my ears are ready.
Favorite Tracks: Jekyll, Building a Ladder, Borderline with My Atoms
– DJ Mango