It's been a big year in local music, with countless new releases from newcomers and scene veterans alike. As we look back on 2022, The Coast is naming its top 10 albums of the year (in no particular order). Peep the full list here.
First, there’s the irresistible boom-bap of the backbeat tapping at your spine. Then, the layered vocals that swirl into your eardrums, knocking loose memories of ’90s R&B as they hit the walls of your brain. By the time the opening track’s backing vocals tell you “move everybody, don’t stop the party” you already know this is as much a rowdy rager as it is an album—fuel for your own after-dark adventures and the distilled essence of a table-thumping, ass-shaking Saturday night.
This is Don’t Trip, the latest album by Aquakultre.
Lance Sampson’s musical project that’s sometimes a band and sometimes a solo project (and often somewhere in between) had a lot to live up to with its 2022 offering: Newly signed to Forward Music and fresh off the Polaris Prize shortlist for 2020’s LP Legacy, Aquakultre refused a sophomore slump, opting instead to create a slouchy shrug of an album that dares you not to sing along to its catchy, crowd-pleasing numbers.
As I wrote in a review at the start of the summer, house parties are an intrinsic part of the history of hip hop, and this is a legacy Sampson is tapping into on Don’t Trip—from over 20 guest spots delivering an invite-list feeling to an overall vibe that captures the spirit of dancing in the living room with friends. House parties are also of historical significance to Halifax—especially the north end and African Nova Scotian communities. As north ender and former national poet laureate George Elliott Clarke tells it in his 2021 memoir Where Beauty Survived, racism often kept Black men out of nightclubs in the city, making neighbourhood house parties the de facto way to get down. (While Clarke was describing the 1970s, as recently as 2017 critics have condemned Halifax bars for racial profiling.)
The heaviness of the bass and the heft of cultural significance collides with the lightness of airy vocals and the high of a good night with friends across Don’t Trip’s 13 tracks. It’s in the ability to carry both that the album’s magic lies. In a year where house parties came roaring back, trust this LP to remind us why we missed them.