The hip hop duo of beloved Melbourne emcees, Mantra and Grey Ghost, give us the lowdown on the albums inspiring their new project.
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
If we had to compare ourselves to another act (which we’re often asked to), it would probably be these guys. The beats are hard, the rhymes are tech and there’s a consistent sense of aesthetic throughout the whole project. Not to mention the fact it feels like the rappers are giving the whole world the finger at all times.
El-P and Killer Mike are both seasoned and accomplished artists in their own right but their styles marry together so well, in a way that’s super different from their solo stuff. That was a big goal for us when we started working on the TELL record.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
There’s pretty much nothing about Kendrick that doesn’t inspire us. DAMN. dropped while we were in the thick of working on our record and it kinda made us wanna take it back to the lab a bit. The way Kendrick writes verses and songs is so unique and interesting. He creates textures and shapes that are unpredictable and brilliant. The vocal production and arrangements on this record were a huge inspiration for us, particularly during the post-production/mixing stage of our album.
Black Star – Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star
There have been so many incredible rap duo’s over the years but probably none who have inspired us personally as much as Black Star. Mos Def and Talib Kweli are both two of our all-time favourite artists and this album is both of them at their best. Their styles are crazy different from each other but also the perfect complement.
They taught us how to share the mic, how to trade bars back and forth and fill each song with soul, energy and purpose. Throw in some Hi-Tek production and a few classic guest spots and you’ve got one of the best hip hop albums of all time, duo or not.
James Blake – Assume Form
Probably not our favourite James Blake record, but it came along at just the right time. It sits in so many different worlds – hip hop, electronic, soul, pop – yet still manages to sound authentic and beautifully weird. It took our minds out of our own sound for a bit and showed us some really exciting ideas, particularly around production and vocal treatment.
James Blake is an artist who has stayed true to his sound but also challenged himself to be constantly evolving. We wanted our album to reflect a meeting of our two styles but also an extension of what we’ve done previously.
TOKiMONSTA – Lune Rouge
This album has a crazy story. In 2015, TOKiMONSTA was diagnosed with a super rare, extremely dangerous brain condition that required immediate surgery. After two brain surgeries, she was told she might never be able to perceive music again, let alone create it. But her senses returned and she recovered and this is the album she made directly afterwards. It’s moving, inspiring and also incredibly fun.
We wanted to make an album that dealt with serious and confronting subject matter but in a way you can still have fun with. TOKiMONSTA did that and also taught us a lot about composition and song shape.
TELL’s debut album Soundtrack To The End Of The World is out now. Give it a spin via streaming services and find out more about the duo via their Facebook page.