12 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

With an urbane sense of style, Mr. Ben Hudson mixes old-fashioned songwriting craft and contemporary techno flash on Straight No Chaser. Bolstered by the high-profile support of Kanye West, he sketches the details of romantic dysfunction with a slightly genteel touch (spiced with strategic four-letter words). Hudson matches his lyrics with crisp, kinetic arrangements that combine skittering hip-hop beats with ‘80s-style synthesized atmospherics. The fusion yields tracks charged with intrigue and angst, with Hudson’s yearning, often Auto-Tuned vocals kept tightly in the spotlight. Whether he’s collecting himself after a violent argument (“Stiff Upper Lip”), confronting a rival (“Anyone But Him”) or coming to terms with heartache (“There Will Be Tears”), Hudson displays a keener emotional intelligence than most of his peers. On a musical level, the obsessive “Supernova” is high-order urban pop with a glittering finish. “White Lies” is a particular highpoint, recalling the erotic thump of the early Police.

EDITORS’ NOTES

With an urbane sense of style, Mr. Ben Hudson mixes old-fashioned songwriting craft and contemporary techno flash on Straight No Chaser. Bolstered by the high-profile support of Kanye West, he sketches the details of romantic dysfunction with a slightly genteel touch (spiced with strategic four-letter words). Hudson matches his lyrics with crisp, kinetic arrangements that combine skittering hip-hop beats with ‘80s-style synthesized atmospherics. The fusion yields tracks charged with intrigue and angst, with Hudson’s yearning, often Auto-Tuned vocals kept tightly in the spotlight. Whether he’s collecting himself after a violent argument (“Stiff Upper Lip”), confronting a rival (“Anyone But Him”) or coming to terms with heartache (“There Will Be Tears”), Hudson displays a keener emotional intelligence than most of his peers. On a musical level, the obsessive “Supernova” is high-order urban pop with a glittering finish. “White Lies” is a particular highpoint, recalling the erotic thump of the early Police.

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About Mr Hudson

Merging an unusual combination of genres, Mr. Hudson (aka Ben Hudson on vocals and guitar) applied his love for Chet Baker and Cole Porter to his skills in hip-hop production. To play his songs live, he formed the Library, comprised of Maps Huxley (bass), Wilkie Wilkinson (drums), Joy Joseph (steel drums, vocals), and Torville Jones (piano). The first result, an EP entitled Bread & Roses, came out via Deal Real in October 2006. The group toured with Amy Winehouse in early 2007 in support of its debut album, A Tale of Two Cities, released through Deal Real/Mercury. A slate of festival appearances followed during the summer, but Hudson's biggest act of promotion came courtesy of rapper Kanye West, who signed him to his G.O.O.D. Music label and featured Hudson's production and vocals on 2008's number one album, 808s & Heartbreak. Mr. Hudson's second album, Straight No Chaser -- this time issued and recorded without the Library -- appeared in August 2009, and was ably assisted by a single ("Supernova") featuring West.

January 2010 brought further success, when his guest appearance on Jay-Z's single "Young Forever" helped it to reach the Top Ten in both the U.K. and the U.S. During the same period, "Playing with Fire" -- a collaboration with the London hip-hop act, N-Dubz -- also hit the upper reaches of the U.K. chart.

The following couple of years saw Mr. Hudson build his own studio and he increasingly spent time producing acts, rather than performing.

However, in 2012, fruits of a project with Rosie Oddie -- daughter of Bill, the star of the '70s hit U.K. comedy TV show The Goodies -- appeared in the form of the album Never Grow Up.

Released under the BIGKids moniker, the record betrayed the influence of material by pop acts such as the Ting Tings and Lily Allen. A solo single, "Fred Astaire," appeared in March 2013, before "Real and True" -- another collaboration, this time with rapper Future and global star Miley Cyrus -- was issued that November. ~ Kenyon Hopkin & James Wilkinson

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