Maps by billy Woods & Kenny Segal album review by Adam Fink for Northern Transmissions. The duo's LP is now available via Backwoodz Studioz



billy woods & Kenny Segal

He may be mysterious but rap icon billy woods has been at it for a long while now. It’s been twenty years since woods released his debut album Camouflage and he has been putting out quality work consistently. This year marked the release of his collaborative album Maps with producer Kenny Segal and it is one of the best American hip hop records of 2023.

Northern Transmissions revisits their favourite album of 2023

There’s a lot to love here for fans of the genre. Musically, the record moves with smooth Jazz infected grooves. This isn’t How To Pimp A Butterfly level density, the entire album breathes and moves along with woods superior flow. A great touchstone would be the work that has come out of the Pacific Northwest of the last couple decades. Maps has the groove of something that Ishmael Butler has put out but more grounded and less fantastical. The entire proceeding unfolds like a concept album about life on the road and the highs and lows that come with it. The internal stream of consciousness lyrics that woods unveils is one of the reasons that the album is so easy to revisit. Personal, political and everything in between. It’s a gift to the listener to indulge in woods flow. There is always something new to be discovered and, because of this, the record is endlessly listenable.

It all comes out of the gate, blasting your speakers with the deep bass groove of “Kenwood Speakers”. The title, and production referencing the popular car stereos of the nineties that would push the low end on anything that you were playing through to the stratosphere. While the album is a treat for everyone, all the hip hop oldheads will delight in the many references that woods drops. Rhyming “Buju Banton” and “Cold Lampin'” is super fun but later on the piano tinged “The Layover” we get a couple of early LL Cool J drops in that song’s chorus. Another treat of the album is the guests. ELUCID, Aesop Rock and Danny Brown all make memorable appearances that work so well within the world that woods and Segal have created here. Everyone got the assignment.

Maps has been out since May so if you haven’t gotten on to this album yet, it’s never too late to enjoy. Interestingly, the album seems to work even better, with its mid tempo jazzy grooves, in the winter weather than the hot summer sun. It’s such a delight from start to finish and shows that woods is one of the best in the biz still.

Order Maps by billy woods & Kenny Segal HERE


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