Bristol producer Ben Dubuisson has never been short of inspiration and stimulus in his home town. Ben began his musical path in the height of the ‘beats’ scene of the mid-90’s, cutting his teeth with seminal labels like Hombre and Cup Of Tea recordings under the moniker "Purple Penguin”, the same name as his highly acclaimed record shop which satisfied the cravings for unheard beats and samples of the megastar Bristol producers of that time. From there, he went onto co-found one of Bristol’s most influential clubs, Native, which saw many of the world’s taste making DJ’s perform in this intimate venue.
Onto 2010, Dubuisson returns for his third album under the Hundred Strong pseudonym entitled ‘Stylin’ Free’, melding hip hop with funk, soul and a touch of dub reggae. As you would expect from a producer of his pedigree, Ben has made plenty of friends along the way, and when favours were called in and musical exchanges made, he found himself with a seemingly in-exhaustive wealth of vocal talent to use and abuse on the albums.
Having read somewhere that Detroit soul legend Amp Fiddler was up for working on beats he “was feeling”, four or five fresh instrumentals were soon winging their way across the Atlantic for his consideration. Several discussions via Skype followed and in quick order, after some inspired writing, three completed songs, ‘Stylin’ Free’, ‘Time’ and ‘Moodswing’, arrived in Ben’s inbox. Having taught the producers producer J Dilla to use the MPC, it was a real highlight to have someone as gifted as Amp lay down some vocals for the LP.
Later in the year Ben also hooked up with MC Serocee who has been blazing a trail with Roots Manuva and Toddla T. A quick discussion backstage at Glastonbury led to the talented London based MC laying down the 2 tracks ‘Odeon’ and ‘Talkin Not Listenin’. Recorded in a small studio in Croydon there was a real feeling of cross cultural collaboration between the bass heavy Bristol sound and edgy South london attitude.
On a more soulful side Ben had always admired the rich soul vocals of Sheffield songsmith Pete Simpson. Having met at Ben’s club Native, a beat was procured which sounded like it was meant for Simpson. Again in short order the finished and highly emotional track ‘You Make Me Feel’ was forthcoming. It was through Pete that Ben also hooked up with Holly Backler. The Australian singer had worked with Pete in the past, and when he forwarded a duet over a Hundred Strong instrumental it seemed like an ideal opportunity to get a couple of other beats over for Backlers consideration. The tracks ‘Make You See The Light’ and ‘One Thing’ were chosen which add a slightly more vulnerable air to the completed album.
Finally, long time collaborators J Todd (‘How Good It Is’ and ‘Find A Way’) and J Malik (‘Gravestone’) were brought in to complete the line up of tracks. It is the love of soulful beats and music in general that ties all the collaborators to a common theme and completes what is essentially the sound of Hundred Strong.
Not limited by international boundaries but united by Music.
”Straight outta Bristol with hookups to cry for, these boys know that the real meaning of hip-hop soul runs way deeper than greedy-eyed tosh about the benjamins. Grade A full-phat phunk. You gotta get it, you gotta gotta get it.”
“Superbly controlled downbeat”
“Quality tunes and dope beats all the way. The new wave of hip-hop …”
“Recalls Blue Lines in its easy absorption of dub and hip-hop”
“Flying the flag for the West country with a funky, laid back hip-hop album full of bluesy beats, sassy scratching and obscure samples.”
4/5 The Sun
“Dubuisson has managed to inject a fresh, vibrant new sound that will make those ears turn westward one again.”
8/10 Future Music
“Basement Blues” evokes the atmospheric meanderings of Massive Attack, but there is a lot more to this album than the stereo typical Bristol sound. Reggae tinged tracks like “Flavor” are a joy to listen to, while “All Aint The Same” could be soul legend Shuggie Otis reborn in the 21st century.”
“What a collaboration this has turned out to be. Hundred Strong have laid down the tuffest grooves i have heard in ages….
5/5 DJ Mag
“Soul food ,y’all…we’re imagining a chilled out Outkast here on Bristol producer Ben Dubuisson’s latest project.”
“Thick bassline funk from Bristol…..”
4/5 DMC Update
The single “Stylin’ Free” featuring Amp Fiddler will be released in early Feb 2011 with a remix of the title track from the album by Duffstep (http://www.myspace.com/duffstep) and a remix of “Time” featuring Amp Fiddler by Andreas Saag who is fresh from reworking both Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mngo” and St Germain’s “Rose Rouge”. There is also a vinyl only exclusive remix of “Stylin’ Free” by Guynumukat which has already received support from Mr. Scruff, Faze Action and Jimpster.