Gramatik is back and better than ever. On the 10th anniversary of ‘Street Bangerz Vol. I’ (Reissued as SBI), the Slovenian born producer who now calls New York City home, has released the fifth installment in the series, ‘SB5.’
The SB series comprises the chill, jazzy, soulful side to Gramatik’s discography, and ‘SB5’ continues that trend. Absent is the heavy, electro-bass of his live set staples such as “Voyager Twins” and “War of the Currents,” but make no mistake, ‘SB5’ is not lacking in the energy Gramatik is capable of bringing to the table. Punchy percussion, horns of all varieties and funk and soul samples are prominent throughout, while electric blues guitar licks steal the show.
There are several decade milestones embedded in ‘SB5.’ Not only has it been ten years since the release of ‘SB1’ at the tail end of 2008, but ‘SB5’ is also Gramatik’s tenth studio album. Adding to theme of ten, it has also been ten years since Gramatik moved to New York City to pursue his music career. New York has played a significant role in Gramatik’s rise in the industry, and this record has a distinct New York feel to it, most notably on “No Place Like NYC,” and “East River Soul.”
The ‘SB’ series has become a platform for Gramatik to explore making music in the vein of the blues, funk and soul music he listened to as a young child, combined with the sample-heavy beats inspired by the golden era of hip-hop that jumpstarted his interest in music production in the first place. Over the course of the last ten years, Gramatik has been making his music primarily the same way—behind the screen of a computer. However, fit with modernized music production tools and techniques, Gramatik has honed in on his production abilities and developed an updated and improved sound.
Furthermore, in a series that previously had no featured artists, on ‘SB5,’ Gramatik has assembled an entire team of musicians to create his most cohesive body of work in the series. Among those featured on the album are R&B/Soul singer Chris McClenney, Parisian electro-soul duo The Geek x VRV, Lettuce and Break Science drummer Adam Deitch, keyboardist Anomolie and Gramatik’s touring guitarist Adam Stehr. Additionally, as is expected from Gramatik, there are several recognizable voices sampled on the album whose names you will not see in the features list, including “Godfather of Soul” James Brown and “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin.
Ten years after Gramatik started “Doin’ It” on ‘SB1,’ he’s “Still Doin’ It” on ‘SB5,’ and he’s got much more material on the way. He announced shortly after the release that he has plenty of more music saved up for ‘SB6,’ is currently working on Re:Coil Pt. II, and has a full-length LP coming sometime in 2019.