ONE TO WATCH: DON LEISURE | MUSIC FEATURE
Cardiff producer Don Leisure has evolved considerably in the decade or so he’s been releasing wax. Indeed, he wasn’t Don Leisure when he was making drum’n’bass in the late-00s – he did that as Jamal, his real name – but adopted the pseudonym when he hooked up with Che Ahmed to make tracks as Darkhouse Family. DHF were covered in this section back in 2010 (yikes), and their EPs and DJ sets have elevated them to south Wales’ foremost woozy weird-funk crate-investigators.
Now, in an audacious move, Don has leapfrogged his own band in the queue to release an album. Shaboo has just been released on the First Word label and stuffs 25 tracks into 40 minutes of vinyl; plenty of these are skits and interludes, in accordance with the record’s mixtape conceit. Shaboo is named in tribute to Don’s uncle, a Kenyan who emigrated to London in search of fame as an actor. His zest for life led a teenage Don to believe he could pursue his own creative dreams, and he began assembling bedroom beats shortly after.
At the same time, the family would make Cardiff-to-London roadtrips, soundtracked by hip-hop cassettes, illegal 90s pirate radio and pioneering Asian station Sunrise. This unusual blend is what Shaboo tries to emulate, and the melange of crackly, loping beats, screwed-with psych/jazz melodies, snatches of benign airwave-friendly voices and rapid-fire shuffles from one motif to the next captures the feel of an in-car dial battle. Except much less annoying and much more like a Madlib-style strange trip of beat-stitching brilliance.