In 2010 Sean Combs AKA Puff Daddy, previously known as P-Diddy, sampled Israeli producer and DJ Guy Gerber’s Persona Non Grata for the intro track to his then latest album, Last Train to Paris. The LP, described as an “electro hip-hop soul funk” production, was critically acclaimed but widely ignored with disappointing sales.
A couple of years later, as Gerber was wrapping up his recording of Fabric 64, the DJ received a call from Combs’ handlers giving him a heads-up that he could soon expect another call from Puff himself. Not knowing whether or not to believe it actually would happen, Gerber went along with his normal day. But the call came. Combs had been so enthralled with Gerber’s sound that he wanted to collaborate with him on a new project originally named Ketamine. The name didn’t stick, but the unlikely partnership did, resulting in a years-in-the-making and soon-to-be-released album entitled 1111.
Guy Gerber is known for producing genre-bending electronic tracks with basic structures that often resemble straight-up house or trance, but psychedelically morph into uncategorizable electronic dance floor mayhem. And Puff Daddy is known for, well, being Puff Daddy. And P-Diddy. The millionaire rap mogul who discovered Biggie Smalls, dated J-Lo before she was J-Lo, and tore up the nineties Billboard charts with singles like It’s All About the Benjamins. What could these two guys possibly make together?
Well we’re beginning to find out. Two weeks ago Guy Gerber posted the first track from the 1111 project to his SoundCloud page and kind of blew up the internet. The song, My Heart, like many of Gerber’s tracks, starts incognito, featuring soft dub bass and teetering high hats overlaid by a haunting pad. Before you know it, though, you’re nodding your head to a four-four beat and treated to one verse spit by a heavily processed, glitched, and “screwed up” Puff Daddy. The bass line is pure disco. It’s not exactly a dance floor killer, but to call it downtempo would be doing it disservice. It has plenty of hip hop swagger as Puff celebrates bamboo sheets, pink lemonade, and leather ponchos. But that swagger is contradicted by hauntingly Auto-Tuned vocals crying, “Hello, are you there?”
And then, today, Gerber unveiled a 1 minute 26 second teaser of their next song, Tourist Trap. And everything is just a little different. While you’re still treated to Puff’s darkly compressed vocals, they are delivered in a reggae-inspired syncopated melody. And the sonic landscape is far more trippy. Gerber’s psychedelic roots are on full display here with trancey synths frolicking above, behind, and underneath Puff’s voice while flirting with the minimal rhythm and purring bass. And though barely over a minute, the track manages to build into a mind-bending peak before dropping you right back off where you started.
In an interview with Vibe, Gerber promised that he would be creating a “psychedelic interpretation” of Sean Combs’ work, and it looks like he’s a man of his word. The promo video that accompanies the teaser can be seen above with the tagline, “Fingering Your Subconscious July 30th.” I can’t wait.