'Slick storytelling and even slicker production'
Rochelle Owusu-Antwi

14:55 23rd August 2013


London producer Naughty Boy takes listeners on a journey to the mystical (and metaphorical) Hotel Cabana, his debut album. Articulate George The Poet kicks things off as the all-knowing narrator in between tracks delivering poignant spoken word.

'Welcome to Cabana' creates a short but sweet vivid image in the mind’s eye setting the album’s scene. The harshness of Tinie Tempah’s ferocious spitting contrasted with Emeli Sandé’s mellow notes and rumbling percussion in the background builds proceedings to a frenzied yet controlled start.

'Wonder' is a toe-tapping, uplifting anthem that evokes a sense of elation and hope against a backdrop of tribal beats. It’s no surprise that after the success of their partnership on Emeli’s debut album she dominates the features, showing why they’re a collaborative force to be reckoned with producing yet another catchy classic.

Watch the video for 'Wonder' below

The authentic straight-from-a-90s-boombox 'Think About It' details American rapper Wiz Khalifa’s immodest musings on a high-flying artist’s lifestyle. Newcomer Ella Eyre’s powerfully soulful hook is simply a treat bringing a sense of humility and grounding in between verses, almost retorting the boasts.

The distinctive sound of Gabrielle’s sassy voice rings out in Hollywood telling the tale of a fallen star reflecting on former success. Dramatic rumbles and harsh strings merge with complex personal themes of resentment and longing.

If Emeli Sande’s mega-hit 'Heaven' had a perfect companion, Lifted would be it: almost a ‘Part II’ continuation that could seamlessly fit onto 'Heaven'’s end. Playing it safe with tried and tested big brassy beats to accompany Emeli’s trademark bellows another modern euphoric gospel-esque track is born.

Sam Smith lends his soulful vocals to enchanting delight 'La La La' which set the precedent high for the rest of Hotel Cabana to follow. With a blend of soul and a nod to yesteryear’s UK Garage genre as well as a unique futuristic sound, Naughty Boy manages to live up to any preconceived hype beyond this lead single… and then some.

Watch the video for 'La La La' below

Highlights include the wonderful 'No One’s Here To Sleep' featuring Bastille which bears a Massive Attack edge tinged with solemn sadness; the gravelly confessional 'So Strong' featuring Chasing Grace as well as a mesmerising reworked cover of Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' with an artist known as Tanika.

Throughout the album there’s subtle nods to Cabana stringing it altogether despite each song being a standalone piece that’s part of an elaborate musical puzzle. Naughty Boy showcases the best of British artists combined with slick storytelling and even slicker production providing a fresh sound that’s pretty hard to define. Displaying fine tuned talent through an erratic yet masterful layering of different sounds and vocals he brings a unique dimension to the music scene. For a first studio album he’s managed to create a work of art that stirs something deep within.

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