It's 2007. But Stylin Loves 2006. Listen and read on for Ennio Styles' rundown of the best of 2006.

Playlist 6/01/07 - Stylin Loves 2006

1. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - Jupiter [Hypnotic Brass Ensemble]
2. Kenny Garrett - Qing Wen [Nonesuch]
3. Pete Kuzma feat Bilal - High & Dry [Exit/Inertia]
4. Ty & Kory - Hey Ty [cdr]
5. 4 Hero feat Carina Andersson - Morning Child [Raw Canvas]
6. Fat Freddy’s Drop - Midnight Marauders (Pylonz & Kinetix Remix) [Kartel/Inertia]
7. Pharoahe Monch feat Showtyme, Mela Machinko & Tower of Power - Push [Universal]
8. The Singletons feat Kirk Franklin - Give Him The Praise [Verity]
9. RH Factor - Hold On [Verve/Universal]
10. Plutonic Lab - Livications [Obese]
11. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy [Warner/Warner]
12. Gotan Project - Diferente [XL/Inertia]
13. Capracara - Opal Rush [Soul Jazz/Inertia]
14. Bugz in the Attic - Consequences [V2/Shock]
15. Outkast - Life Is Like a Musical [Laface/Sony BMG]
16. Rhymefest - Tell A Story [J/Sony BMG]
17. Sleepy Brown feat Pharrell & Big Boi - Margarita [Virgin/EMI]
18. Ron Hall & the Muthafunkaz feat Marc Evans - The Way You Love Me (Dim's TSOP Version) [Defected/Stomp]
19. Julien Jabre - Swimming Places (Original Mix) [Defected/Stomp]
20. Xantoné Blacq feat Patricia Marx - Makes Me Wanna [Platinum Fingers]
21. Sugar Beats - Tickled Zinc (Opolopo Remix) [Calm Beast]
22. Anthony Hamilton - Change Your World [So So Def]
23. Amy Winehouse - Addicted [Island]
24. K-Os - The Rain [Virgin]
25. Nils Krogh - Disposition (Inverse Cinematics Remix) [DNM/Creative Vibes]
26. Soil & Pimp Sessions - Scoop Out [Victor]

Here's the track-by-track rundown of Stylin's best of 2006, plus a few tips of tunes that nearly made it. Don't forget, these are in order of radio play, not ranking ...

1. HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE - JUPITER [HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE]
More 'hypnotic' than 'brassy', this Chicago group has suddenly caught the ears of jazz/club DJs around the world with a 10" vinyl release that has been only marginally easier to find than the CDs they sell exclusively at live performances. Now with a little distribution in effect and an upcoming album release for Truth & Soul, this seems to be changing. Definitely a group to watch for 2007. If you like this, check 'Ake' by the Youngblood Brass Band.

2. KENNY GARRETT - QING WEN [NONESUCH]
This album was so heavy, with the lineup including legends Bobby Hutcherson and Pharoah Sanders as well as Mulgrew Miller, a most worthy pianist on an album inspired by McCoy Tyner. This is the sort of jazz I love; I just didn't think anyone was making it anymore. If you like this, check out the three 1964 recordings by Solomon Ilori with Hubert Laws, Donald Byrd and Elvin Jones, not released until 2006.

3. PETE KUZMA FEAT BILAL - HIGH & DRY [EXIT/INERTIA]
Sadly Bilal's sophomore album seems to have been shelved in 2006, but we were still treated to this great Radiohead cover with sometime Jill Scott collaborator Pete Kuzma. If you like this, check the Mark Ronson and Waajeed versions of Radiohead on the same album.

4. TY & KORY - HEY TY [CDR]
This one was doing the rounds on CDR in 2005, but since there was not even a sniff of a release date I left it out of Stylin Loves 2005. It got a 'sort-of' release in 2006 on a Ty & Kory mixtape, so that's good enough to include it this time around. With production from Madlib and some vocals that sound like Raphael Saadiq, this one is swee-eet! If you like this, check Darien Brockington's album 'Somebody to Love'.

5. 4 HERO FEAT CARINA ANDERSSON - MORNING CHILD [RAW CANVAS]
After working on covers of Rotary Connection's 'Les Fleur' and 'I am the Black Gold of the Sun' and collaborating with former Charles Stepney cohorts like Terry Callier, 4 Hero were more qualified than anyone to try an original based on the Stepney beats 'n' strings 'n' soul template. Carina Andersson even sounds just like Minnie Ripperton. Beautiful lyrics too, which parents will particularly appreciate. If you like this, check Hopper's 'Take Us to the Place' and the Visioneers album 'Dirty Old Hip Hop' from the same crew.

6. FAT FREDDY’S DROP - MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS (PYLONZ & KINETIX REMIX) [KARTEL/INERTIA]
Repeat offenders Fat Freddy's Drop (Joe Dukie & DJ Fitchie's 'This Room': Stylin Loves 2003) called in fellow NZ producers Pylonz & Kinetix to remix their pre-album hit. Slamming Amen breaks everywhere, this is a supreme junglist excursion recalling the mid-90s era when nobody was using the term 'drum & bass'. If you like this, another big D&B tune in 2006 was High Contrast's remix of Kanye West's 'Golddigger'. For the freshest beats in any style of music, grime producer Davinche is the man for me right now.

7. PHAROAHE MONCH FEAT SHOWTYME, MELA MACHINKO & TOWER OF POWER - PUSH [UNIVERSAL]
Super-soulful hip hop bordering on gospel with its intensity and fervour. Monch's rap doesn't really kick in until late in the song, which is mostly carried by the choir and featured guest vocalists and the Tower of Power horns. If you like this, other great gospel-tinged hip hop in 2006 came from The Game feat Nas & Marsha from Floetry with 'Why You Hate the Game' and LL Cool J feat Mary Mary with 'We're Gonna Make It'. For horn led hip hop, Lupe Fiasco's hit 'Kick Push' nearly made it in.

8. THE SINGLETONS FEAT KIRK FRANKLIN - GIVE HIM THE PRAISE [VERITY]
No doubting that this one was gospel, from the outfits on the sleeve, the whole family singing together, the presence of Kirk Franklin on guest vocals and of course the lyrics (I particularly like the phrase 'Get Your Praise On'!). Whether the lyrics speak to you or not, this was just a massive feelgood soul tune. If you like this, my other favourite Gospel tunes in 2006 were actually released in 2005 - Kirk Franklin's own 'Why' featuring Stevie Wonder, Min. Darnell Williams' 'Body Song' and Kierra Kiki Sheard's 'Let Go (Rock Soul Remix)'. Expect me to find more great 2006 gospel in 2007!

9. RH FACTOR - HOLD ON [VERVE/UNIVERSAL]
Roy Hargrove's jazz/funk/soul/hip hop project the RH Factor is another repeat offender ('Poetry' feat Q-Tip & Erykah Badu: Stylin Loves 2003). Roy's work on D'Angelo's classic 'Spanish Joint' was clearly no fluke. If you like this, check the many other excellent tunes on the 'Distractions' album including 'Crazy Race' and 'Family'. We need someone remixing this stuff though. Sekoya's 'My Will' gave an idea of how good a broken beat remix of the RH Factor could sound.

10. PLUTONIC LAB - LIVICATIONS [OBESE]
Undoubtedly one of Melbourne's best and most consistent producers for more than 10 years, Plutonic Lab's 'Codes Over Colours' was possibly his best album yet. I really got stuck on this tune though, which mixed a hint of the baroque influences which have been creeping into his music lately with ample portions of the crisp hip hop beats and cinematic atmosphere which have always been his hallmark. If you like this, check Stereotyp's 'Fool for You', Dabrye feat Doom's 'Air', Max & Harvey's 'Sleep' and Coldcut's 'Sound Mirrors'.

11. GNARLS BARKLEY - CRAZY [WARNER/WARNER]
You might have heard this one, since it may just have been the biggest tune on the planet in 2006. Everybody loved it, and then everybody hated it after the overexposure got ridiculous. I'm recovering my love for it, and certainly can't forget how it blew me away when I first heard it. I'm not sure what else to recommend if you liked this - it really is quite a unique piece of music when you think about it.

12. GOTAN PROJECT - DIFERENTE [XL/INERTIA]
I surprised myself with the inclusion of this one from repeat offenders Gotan Project ('Queremos Paz': Stylin Loves 2001). I was disappointed with their second album on which this appeared, but the more I listened to this track the more I realised that it was as good as anything on their classic first album and I think this will stand up just as well over time (after people forget that it wasn't so cool to like Gotan Project in 2006). Diferente had it all: hypnotic bassline, tight production, great vocals, bandoneon and a superb strings-led climax. If you like this, you could do worse than the accordion on Abd Al Malik's 'Je Regarderai Pour Toi Les Etoiles' or Layner's 'Leierkast'.

13. CAPRACARA - OPAL RUSH [SOUL JAZZ/INERTIA]
The surprise of a new acid house 12" being released on a label called Soul Jazz Records was made slightly less so by the fact that Capracara is Jonathan Burnip who works in the label's shop, and that they released a compilation of classic Chicago acid a few years ago. What was more surprising was how good this record was. Very much in the mould of the Chicago classics, this just sounded as fat as hearing a 303 for the first time. Every time I played this I would pull a gnarly face and start nodding so hard I would nearly pull the headphones from their socket. On another note, let's hope more producers start making sub-120bpm house and techno records. No other acid tunes to recommend from 2006, but my favourite techno tunes were Stefan Goldmann's 'Sleepy Hollow' and Deetron's 'You've Got Me Swinging'.

14. BUGZ IN THE ATTIC - CONSEQUENCES [V2/SHOCK]
One of the most anticipated albums in 2006 was 'Back in the Doghouse' from the kings of the broken beat scene, repeat offenders Bugz in the Attic ('Zombie 2003': Stylin Loves 2003, not to mention appearances from members Afronaught and Kaidi Tatham in 2001 and 2003). But it was this boogie tune on the album that grabbed me more than any of the broken ones. Classic Bugz/Bembe Segue vocal arrangements met a groove which was like Prince recording for Uno Melodic. If you like this, check 'Here We Go (Stray Remix)' by Yam Who, 'Electrik Boogie' by Ursula 1000 and 'Love Endeavour (Maurice Fulton Remix)' by Alice Smith, not to mention 'Move Aside' and 'Knocks Me off My Feet' on the Bugz album.

15. OUTKAST - LIFE IS LIKE A MUSICAL [LAFACE/SONY BMG]
Repeat offenders Outkast ('Prototype': Stylin Loves 2003) gave us this too-short tune from their Idlewild soundtrack. A shuffle groove that was part 80s pop-funk and part 06 club formed the bed for a totally infectious vocal and melody. If you like this, there are plenty of other great tunes on the album.

16. RHYMEFEST - TELL A STORY [J/SONY BMG]
Keeping it shuffle on this Mark Ronson-production from Chicago MC Rhymefest's 'Blue Collar' album. Like the Outkast tune, this was so catchy and a refreshingly different groove to hear on a mainstream hip hop album. If you like this, check Dave Ghetto's 'Spread the Light', Kelis' 'Till the Wheels Fall Off' and Ghostface Killah's 'Back Like That'.

17. SLEEPY BROWN FEAT PHARRELL & BIG BOI - MARGARITA [VIRGIN/EMI]
After many false starts, Sleepy Brown's excellent 'Mr Brown' album finally came out in 2006 and featured this great single produced by repeat offenders the Neptunes (NERD 'Chariots of Fire': Stylin Loves 2004, Common 'Come Close': Stylin Loves 2003, Clipse 'Ma, I Don't Love Her: Stylin Loves 2002). Great club-friendly uptempo R&B which made up for the disappointment of Pharrell's solo album. If you like this, check Natalie Williams' 'The Way We Like It', Busta Rhymes 'Get Down' and Lupe Fiasco's 'I Gotcha', another Neptunes production.

18. RON HALL & THE MUTHAFUNKAZ FEAT MARC EVANS - THE WAY YOU LOVE ME (DIM'S TSOP VERSION) [DEFECTED/STOMP]
Who would have thought that anyone would make a disco song like this again? Someone had the genius idea of taking this already great house record from 2005 and getting Salsoul/MFSB legend Vince Montana to give it the full disco orchestration complete with band, strings and Vince himself on vibes. Dimitri From Paris aka Dim then added what I suspect were some fairly subtle touches to make this an utterly classic record. If you like this, check Byron Stingily's 'Hot Nights'.

19. JULIEN JABRE - SWIMMING PLACES (ORIGINAL MIX) [DEFECTED/STOMP]
Two records from Defected in my best of the year - how very 'main room' of me! Based around some irresistible piano chords, Julien works the arrangement on this with just a few simple elements to create an immensely powerful house instrumental that exposes what is generally referred to as 'deep house' to be the wallpaper it is.

20. XANTONÉ BLACQ FEAT PATRICIA MARX - MAKES ME WANNA [PLATINUM FINGERS]
Xantoné Blacq feat Patricia Marx -//Makes Me Wanna//Platinum Fingers
No black marks against this collaboration between repeat offender Xan Blacq (Search for the Sun: Stylin Loves 2002) and Brazilian chanteuse Patricia Marx. Either I have very peculiar taste in music or this song has been seriously slept on. The chords, the rhodes, the vocals: this whole tune just soars. When nobody's looking, this song makes me wanna sing: la, la, la, la ... If you like this, check Marcina Arnold's 'Forefathers', Ben Westbeech's 'So Good Today', Taylor McFerrin's 'Broken Vibes' and Robin Thicke's 'Would That Make You Love Me'.

21. SUGAR BEATS - TICKLED ZINC (OPOLOPO REMIX) [CALM BEAST]
Stylin has been spinning the music of Opolopo since his Australian-only album in 2003 (odd for a Swedish producer) and his unofficial remixes of US hip hop, R&B and disco which have been popping up since then, but 2006 seems to have been a real breakthrough year for him. This is perhaps his finest moment yet for me, an Azymuth-influenced Brazilian fusion take on an already excellent original from the Birmingham band. If you like this, check his three great collabs with Sekoya vocalist Amalia, 'Life's a Dance', 'Street Lights (Remix)' and 'All Systems Down'.

22. ANTHONY HAMILTON - CHANGE YOUR WORLD [SO SO DEF]
Adopting a classic sound does not necessarily result in a classic record, but in this case it does. The classic sound is that of the 70s string-soaked soul ballad. A-Ham's rich baritone is perfectly accompanied by a crack band including Roots' drummer and former Stylin guest ?uestlove on drums, Pino Palladino on bass and Philly legend Larry Gold on string arrangements. Production is by repeat offender James Poyser (Erykah Badu 'I Want You': Stylin Loves 2003). If you like this, check DJ Shadow's 'This Time' and Amp Fiddler's 'Hustle'.

23. AMY WINEHOUSE - ADDICTED [ISLAND]
For her second album 'Back to Black', the UK soulstress changes her style to take on a more 60s northern soul-type groove. Not quite reaching the heights of Nicole Willis' album from 2005, there are still plenty of great tunes on this album. I was choosing between this more sentimental piece and the club-rocking single 'Rehab'. If you like this, check Mary J Blige's 'About You' and the Expressions' 'These Moments'.

24. K-OS - THE RAIN [VIRGIN]
Since first making his name as an MC, Canada's K-Os has increasingly been showing off his singing chops which reach their peak on this standout song from his third and latest album. Power ballad is not a good term, too many connotations. How about powerful ballad? If you like this, check Sleepy Brown's 'Get to It', which mines similar early-60s R&B influences.

25. NILS KROGH – DISPOSITION (INVERSE CINEMATICS REMIX) [DNM/CREATIVE VIBES]
Two great versions of this tune on the 12". The original is more jazz-oriented while this remix adds heavy broken beats, bleeps and basslines to hit the floor hard. And still drops into a nice chunk of the jazz version in the middle. If you like this, my other broken beat picks for 2006 were Nephews of Phela's 'Uhuru Mash Up', Bugz in the Attic's 'Move Aside' and Taylor McFerrin's 'Broken Vibes'.

26. SOIL & PIMP SESSIONS - SCOOP OUT [VICTOR]
This tune is nuts! Not surprising for the always intense Japanese jazz band Soil & 'Pimp' Sessions, whose music we've been playing since their first release in 2004. Their latest album in Japan 'Pimp of the Year' - not to be confused with their previous album just released globally in 2006 - is their best yet and features this high-speed jazz-funk-fusion onslaught which gets truly ridiculous when the synth solo hits. If you like this, check Luisito Quintero's 'Quintero's Jam' (with Hilton Ruiz).

Tunes that should have been in Stylin Loves 2005:
Sufjan Stevens 'Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois'
Kierra Kiki Sheard 'Let Go (Rock Soul Remix)'

For the playlists of Stylin Loves 2001-2005, see www.rrr.org.au/stylin. If there's any interest in getting these old best-of-year shows online, let me know and maybe we can dig those out.

Stylin broadcasts live each Friday on Australia's best known community station, 3RRR-FM Melbourne.

Ennio Styles
PO Box 1055
Fitzroy North VIC 3068
stylin(a)modalforces.com
www.myspace.com/enniostyles

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