Rising, London-based Jazztronica production duo Blue Lab Beats — producer NK-OK and multi-instrumentalist Mr, DM — had rather humble origins, as bedroom producers, who remixed tracks by the likes of Dua Lipa, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and others. The duo’s sound quickly morphed to incorporate jazz, soul and hip-hop influences while staying true to their British/London roots. Although they’ve started with very humble origins, the British production duo have also quickly exploded into the national and international scenes: they’ve played Glastonbury — and they’ve opened for the likes of the legendary Roy Ayers and Thundercat. They’ve also contributed a remake of Bobby Henderson‘s Blue Note Records‘ classic “Montara,” which appeared on last year’s Blue Note Re: imagined compilation. And adding to a growing profile, the duo’s work has amassed over 25 million streams to date.
2021 has been a busy year for the rising British production duo: They’ve released a handful of critically applauded singles including “Dat It,” “Blow You Away (Delilah)” and “Sensual Loving,” which have seem them collaborating with the like of Stones Throw Records affiliate Kiefer and Afrobeats star Ghetto Boy. Those three singles will appear on the duo’s forthcoming album, currently slated for an early 2022 release.
But in the meantime, the duo’s latest single “Labels” is centered around a The Midnight Hour meets J. Dilla-like production featuring soaring strings, boom bap beats and a sinuous bass line. The production serves as a lush and mesmerizing bed for thoughtful and lovelorn verses from London-based emcee Kofi Stone that find him questioning the need for labels to define what his romantic relationship is to others. Sometimes, love is just that that — and that’s all it has to be. The song also features a soulful hook by London-based vocalist Tiana Major9.
“Originally ‘Labels’ started out with my chord progression that I was sitting on for about 6 months and then I gave the rough idea to Mr DM for him to have input on.” Blue Lab Beats’ NK-OK explains. “We then built the track from there. Before getting the vocalists we wanted on this song we got Stephen Hussey to arrange the strings and record the string section and when we heard it back it honestly was so crazy to have live strings on our music. For the vocalist we wanted UK talent on this and so we automatically hit up one of our favourites Tiana Major9. We worked with Tiana in her early recording days so we know how amazingly talented she is. Then it was down to Kofi Stone to deliver the Rap and once again when working with him we all thought ‘this guy is incredible!’”
“A lot of the time we over complicate things. Especially at the early stages of a relationship. You don’t always have to rush for a label cus you think that’s the right thing to do,” Tiana Major9 says of her guest spot. “Learn, love then decide.”
“I was going through what I spoke about on the record so it was good to get off my chest,” Kofi Stone adds. “Working with Blue Lab Beats was a great experience. They are two incredibly talented gentlemen. I just love the musicality they bring and I felt right at home in the studio with the guys.”