"Any question which starts with "Top 5..." is hard to answer. I used to ask all my friends and other musicians about their Top 5 albums. And since I asked them, they used to ask me the same. I have been with the same list for the last couple of years, which is, maybe, not really my Top 5 right now, but it's pretty OK for a Top 5 of all-time. Any of these albums I've played intensively, most of them for years straight on a daily [basis] and I can sing/rap them along or even play some of the solos. These are must-listen records for anyone because these records are my friends in the good and dark times. The Top 5 is in order of discovery because after all, there can't be just one winner. Let's start!"
- Reinier Thijs (@thijsenterprise)
I. Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsys (1970)
"When I was around 14/15-years-old, I got really into music; not only the mainstream, which was on MTV, but, also, the older stuff. I don't really know how I stumbled on Jimi Hendrix, but my parents might have had an influence on that. This record is quite a weird one because it's basically, a compilation record of four shows Hendrix did at The Fillmore East on New Year's Eve (1969-70). It also, feels rather short, but the main thing is it's a live record without overdubs and little showing off. Jimi Hendrix also, has a different line-up than his previous records, now with Buddy Miles on drums (and vocals) and Billy Cox on bass.
I can talk hours, or days, about this record. I love this for many reasons, but the rawness of Hendrix's guitar combined with the improvisations are one-of-a-kind. This record was on my Disc-Man, then, on my green iPod Mini, and later, on vinyl and was as important to me as food and water. I have listened to it at least five years straight because in my university (2007) I wrote a paper about it called Jimi Hendrix - "Machine Gun" (The Perfect Note.) I highlight some of the essential parts: "Listen. The greatest feeling I ever had in my life—with my clothes on—was when I first heard Diz & Bird together in St. Louis, Missouri, back in 1944. I was 18 years old and had just graduated from Lincoln High School. It was just across the Mississippi River in East. St. Louis, Illinois. When I heard Diz & Bird in B's band, I said, "what? What is this!?" Man, that sh*t was so terrible, it was scary. (...) Anyway, I've come close to matching the feeling of that night in 1944 in music, when I first heard Diz & Bird, but I've never quite got there. I've gotten close, but not all the way there. I'm always looking for it, listening and feeling for it, though, trying to always feel it in and trought the music I play every day," From Miles: The Autobiography By: Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe.
The perfect note, a Holy goal for each musician and for may listeners. Sometimes, looked for conscious, sometimes, unconscious. But what is a "perfect note," anyway? The perfect note is something unreachable; nobody knows how it sounds like. You know it's a perfect note, when you hear it. How would that be? Like when entering Heaven and see God or Jesus? Is the quest the same as the quest to perfect love? Is the perfect note something personal or would any person recognize it? Jimi Hendrix plays on 3:56 minutes the most beautiful note I know. By utilizing guitar effects, timing, and the ambient, he plays the perfect note. This high note is a pure form of electricity and any time I hear it, it gives me goose bumps. The build-up is amazing, the bass and drums play so simple and Jimi plays so pure, it's hard to explain in any other words."
II. Common - Be (2006)
"When "The Corner" came on The Box (TV music channel) I was instantly hooked. I hadn't heard about Common before and thought this was his debut record. This album is a complete album for me. The beats, most of Kanye's production with two J Dilla beats, is on-point. And Common sounds refreshing, while touching different topics. The sound of this record influenced me a lot: the use of old Soul samples, mainly. A lot of times, while I make beats, I think: "this is for the Be follow-up and I'd like to hear Common rhyme over this!" Common is definitely one the Top 5 emcees. Besides this record, I also, like how he kept challenging himself after this record and his ability to connect different people. A huge inspiration in many aspects."
III. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1965)
"This record must be in many lists. It's a classic, but one for all kind of music lovers. First of all, I'm a huge Coltrane fan, more for his sound than for his innovations and improvisations; it just attracts me more, as a saxophone player myself. The whole spiritual side of Coltrane is a good one to dive into, but A Love Supreme is a good start. What I love most about this album is the theme: it has the same theme from beginning to end. Besides that, the opening melody is one of the simplest most intense melodies that exist. Anyone can sing or whistle it. In many ways, this album has inspired me: the melody is the most important part of a song, the sound gives your identity, using a theme for an album makes the story stronger. The record doesn't really need an explanation to be understood, which is for any person different and which makes it so cool."
IV. Benjamin Herman - Campert, De Tijd Duurt Één Mens Lang (2007)
"While this record is my favorite Dutch Jazz record of all time, it lacks International recognition. Benjamin Herman is a Dutch saxophone player. I'm a huge fan and in the last 13 years, I must have seen him play 100 concerts, at least. This record came out in 2007 and should be considered a classic, world-wide. It's funny how the record came together: Benjamin was asked to write music for a documentary about poet Remco Campert and developed the material into a full-length album. All the cool things about the record: the line-up (young musicians), the theme, the interludes next to full-length songs, the sound, the improvisation, the cover, the photos, the design... Goddamn, everything about this record is great!
This record inspired me as a saxophone player. It showed me the importance of tone, that Jazz wasn't dead, nor isn't right now. The way of improvising is different, in a good way. I play the solo of "Catnap" daily, studying the greats makes you a better player. Besides that, it inspired me, as composer, to write more abstract songs without using the traditional A-B-A form or any similar. And not to forget, it got me into poetry. Remco Campert is my hero. His work has been through my life, ever since this record came out and guided me, while I was in dark times. This poet is all featured on the record on the song "Lamento" and I can't listen to this without tearing up."
V. J Dilla - Donuts (2006)
"It's obvious I had to include Donuts on this list. Mainly, because it's the reason I started making beats. What hasn't been said or written about this album? Probably, [everyone] knows the story by know and if not, I recommend the book by Jordan Ferguson for the series, 33 1/3 about Donuts. I know a lot of musicians who list this one of their main influences, which can sometimes, be tiring, like it's converting in the Kind of Blue of Hip-Hop. To be honest, it's not the only one album that inspired me, it also, guided me to check other producers, which I equally respect as [much as] Dilla: Madlib, Knxwledge, Pete Rock, Samiyam, and Q-Tip, amongst others.
Regardless, to these comments, this work stands out for me because of the use of samples, the rawness of using the Soul 45's, chopped, looped, played faster, slower, while using little effects. The ingredients of this record are the essence I look for while making beats or more general: music. Dilla made the original songs just better or, actually, a lot better. This is a record to discover, re-discover, study, imitate or just to vibe to. The story is intense, the record is deep, but regardless of this, it's a classic, in terms of music only.
This album taught me that I, actually, like Hip-Hop because of the beats more than the raps and motivated me to do it myself: I released STEPBACKS & SETBACKS last year with the A-side mainly inspired by Donuts. This release was the start for me doing what I'm doing today: making beats, while using little effects and staying close to the melody and drums. Dilla showed me that the raw, seemingly "unfinished" songs can be more interesting to the listener than "over-produced" songs. Sometimes, it's better to leave it for what it is and drop those beats. Oh, and I started eating Donuts..."
Reinier Thijs is a Barcelona, Spain-based producer, sax player, beat-maker, and multi-instrumentalist originally hailing from The Netherlands. Since quietly bursting onto the Instrumental Hip-Hop/beat scene in September 2018, Thijs has self-released twp projects as Thijsenterprise: STEPBACKS & SETBACKS—including his homage to J Dilla's Donuts—and 14-track DOKKUM EP. The Dutch beatsmith is also, effectively one half of Amsterdam-based Instrumental Hip-Hop/Jazz duo 2-Two Legged Dogs, along with like-minded multi-instrumntalist Laurens Beijer AKA Drumma Sheen. 2-Two Legged Dogs, actually, unleashed their expansive 22-track debut, Je Hebt De Boem En De Klao AKA "a small hour of coke for the ears" prior to Thijsenterprise's STEPBACKS & SETBACKS, after nearly 10 years of hard work in the studio together. For Both STEPBACK & SETBACKS & DOKKUM EP, Thijsenterprise largely created unique Hip-Hop beats by "chopping [up] Soul & Jazz samples, using raw drums and dirty basslines, all for the love of the perfect loop." Thijsenterprise has already garnered wide-spread critical acclaim from the likes of The Find Mag, Brooklyn Radio, Beat Tape Co-Op, Sampleface, etc. and has painstakingly created a number of exclusive guest mixes. It appears as though Thijsenterprise is already earnestly at work on his proper DOKKUM EP follow-up, Smoetsie, which Brooklyn Radio says will be thematically centered around "good old love-making music" and will likely be released by Spring 2019.