L'Orange has slowly been making a name for himself over the last few years with a series of releases, most notably The Mad Writer, which featured smoky-soul, J Dilla indebted beats. Aside from occasional guest-spots, they remained largely instrumental affairs. The few guest spots he did have included MCs like Has-Lo and Blue, who made perfect sense to spit over his dusky beats. When I heard he was making an album with Jeremiah Jae, I was taken aback. Jae, whose debut album I discussed here, made albums with quasi-industrial, manic beats. Think Death Grips on Quaaludes, only good. So, when I first listened to The Night Took Us In Like Family, I had no idea exactly how to gauge my expectations. How did it work out? Rather excellently, I'm pleased to report.
L'Orange handled all of the production, and Jae's syrupy drawl of a delivery turns out to be a perfect counterpoint for his style of production. It also helps that L'Orange seemed to take a few cues from Jae, adding slight hints of weirdness to each track. The end result is a grimy album filled with vivid imagery, one the draws you in closer with each listen. The album itself is a concept album, a gangster noir-tale told in five parts, using samples from old gangster films to fill in the details. "Do My Best To Carry On" sets the tone for the album, with its boom-bap indebted beats that are warped and twisted into something else completely, old samples sounding like they're coming from some dusty phonograph layered and woven throughout. The L'Orange dirty soul comes out in full-force on "Underworld", with a piano-driven beat carried along by a warped sample of a chipmunk-voiced female lounge singer adding a haunting quality to the song.
The songs also venture into some dark territory, which is to be expected from an album telling this type of story, with the funeral-dirge beat of "The Concrete Some Call Home" and "Kind of Like Life" being the two most prominent examples. There are also jazz-indebted tracks like "I Was Invisible Nothing" and grimy gangsta beats like "Kicking Glass" to keep the entire affair from ever becoming redundant.
There are only two guest-spots, leaving almost the entirety of the rapping duty to Jae. This works in favor of the album because Jae is a very capable rapper, and it helps make the story being told all the more engrossing. The two times the reins are handed to someone else are on "All I Need" (featuring Gift of Gab) and what could have been the album highlight, "Ignore the Man To Your Right", which features Homeboy Sandman. However, the album highlight is the penultimate "Starry-Eyed Balcony Walkers", with horns and organs giving the track a cocky, menacing tone. It's a huge track, and as of this writing my current favorite hip-hop song of 2015. It also helps draw the story to a perfect close. I won't tell you how it ends, as it's well worth taking the time to listen and get wrapped up in the world it creates. While you're at it, you'll be treating yourself to one of the finest hip-hop releases of the year.
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