Comparisons. These have been the lifeblood of music bloggers & writers for ages. This is especially true when an act comes out of a somewhat smaller, lesser known geographical area and makes a splash. Each subsequent act to emerge from said area with a sound even remotely similar sound gets tagged as the new so and so without a second thought.

How many Halifax bands had to deal with being “the next Sloan” after their emergence? The answer is 746. I’ve been counting them.

Anyhoo, I mention this because after listening to Swaine, the debut instrumental release from Halifax producer Ritchcraft (aka James Ritchie), I had to fight the urge to compare him to another beat magician that recently emerged from our city and has since blown the fuck up.

So let’s buck the trend, shall we? Let’s simply listen to Swaine because it’s great. Ritchie describes himself as “relatively unknown, outside of some work with rapper Intalek based out of VA Beach, and local Halifax rappers Quake Matthews and Kayo”, but I have the feeling this could change should the sounds on this six song release find enough ear holes. Each track is engaging, and whether it’s the skittery, trap influenced sound of album opener Summit, or the more traditional soul-influenced boom bap of a track like Vronk!, there’s a high level of hip hop head-nodding to be found throughout.

Essentially, what I like about Swaine is that Ritchie takes current hip hop production trends and infuses them with the kind of soul and care that takes them way beyond the $2 drum fills you find on the average Youtube rap vid these days. The more producers we have like this, the less cranky old cranky rap enthusiasts like me are going to be.

Emcees, get at your boy Ritchcraft, everyone else, give this a listen.