If you have long been trying to find a link between the disparate locations of South London and Palm Beach, Florida, the collaborative musical effort of producer Paul White and musical polymath Eric Biddines will finally give you the answer. While English producer White is best known for his psychedelic hip-hop beats and acclaimed production work for a mountain of artists, including Danny Brown and Charli XCX, singer-rapper Biddines has long been praised for his seamless interlacing of complex flows and mellifluous refrains. This transatlantic partnership have adopted the moniker ‘Golden Rules’ and now offer their debut album Golden Ticket, an intoxicating combination of southern hip-hop, dreamy R&B, punchy blues and super-charged soul, the likes of which haven’t been heard since Outkast’s early days.
The LP immediately takes an unconventional trip down memory lane with opening track Auntie Pearl’s House. Based around a repeating riff, that is harmonically simple but complexly layered with guitars, an array of percussion and vocal interjections, Biddines oscillates effortlessly between the intoxicating rhythm of his rapping and his wonderfully drowsy singing voice, as he recollects his devout upbringing. The Let Down maintains this reflective mood, but its moodier introspection on top of seemingly weeping beats makes for a short but affecting piece. Breakup song It’s Over then demonstrates White’s penchant and talent for interesting percussion-driven tracks. The indecisiveness of Biddines’ verses is ironically underpinned by a driving certainty in its accompaniment, which, while sonically otherworldly, never falters.
Don’t Be and Making A Move deliver gelatinous blues, while Biddines sits centre-stage on the audacious and quirky Holy Macaroni. The inescapable groove of Down South Boogie feels as nostalgically retro as invigoratingly present, as White’s organic production works seamlessly with Biddines’ laidback attitude and natural delivery. On Never Die subtle synths and an ethereal backing chorus interact with sensual Hammond riffing and hard-hitting horns, as Biddines and notable guest artist Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) trade pieces of wisdom, advice and understanding around a soul-stirring hook. The captivatingly alluring Play Some Luther details Biddines’ amatory exploits, as he proposes they play the slow jams of Luther Vandross. Its understated backdrop only heightens the track’s passionate temptation.
The celestial sounds of Life’s Power accompany the affecting reality of its lyrics before The Golden Ticket closes the album with a sound that is neither ‘Southern’ nor ‘Western’, but distinctively and generically ‘Eastern’, with lingering scalic passages and unexpected instrumentation.
Golden Ticket proves to be a charismatic and near flawless debut for the pair, which indulges in sounds and influences across the board, from treacly to trippy; hard-hitting to languid; and from blithe nostalgia to darker realities. The album speaks for the undeniable chemistry between the two artists, and hopefully marks the beginning a prolific partnership.