2021 has been a big year for the Calgary-born producer OAKK. In the virtual space, he was chosen to be one of the DJs for Boombox Cartel’s Cinco Mode livestream event where his set was a clear standout. Shortly afterward, once live shows began returning, he was billed as an opener for concerts headlined by bass music veterans such as Mr. Carmack and Ivy Lab. The latter has especially been taken by him, as his Butter & Gold EP is the first non-Ivy Lab solo release on their 20/20 LDN imprint in over a year.
The first glimpse of this EP the public received was through the stellar title track, and if you have seen Ivy Lab in concert or via any livestream they have done recently, they have frequently been closing out their sets with it and giving it very high praise. It fits very much in line with some of OAKK’s more R&B-leaning tracks he’d done previously, but it’s one of the first times he’s featured his own voice so prominently, serving as a major artistic leap that has certainly paid dividends—legendary British radio DJ and presenter Gilles Peterson played the tune on his radio show which is a massive co-sign. The effusive praise for this song is extremely well-deserved – it’s one of the best songs of the year and would have certainly been featured on Majestic Casual if it were released at least a few years prior.
The EP continues on with “Green Tea,” which lightens the mood as a very playful sounding beat for most of its runtime, but towards the end it slows down to help transition to the closer, “Beneath It All,” which continues the usage of OAKK’s own vocals in the same vein as the title track—this one brings to mind some older songs from artists such as Stwo, Galimatias, & SG Lewis and is yet another brilliant incorporation of his R&B influences.
There’s always some risk involved in the electronic music world when producers begin utilizing their own vocals on their songs, but on this release, it sounds like the music that OAKK was born to make. Butter & Gold marks a highly successful artistic evolution, and I’m very eager to see where he takes his sound from here.
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