When I first sat down to listen to Friends by a little known Seneca B, I had no idea what I was going to hear. A throwback boom-bap instrumentalist, Seneca B is a 19-year-old based out of Boston and had me entranced after only a few short minutes. Clocking in at only 41:14 this tracklist of smooth, buttery jazz production has found a place in my heart. I love this project, and I’m amazed at what a young talent Seneca is considering that she’s only been producing since high school.
Friends has no vocals, save the numerous and varied samples. Seneca clearly loves classic hip-hop as the production draws a great deal of inspiration from the old school coupled with some silky smooth jazz, like her sample of Harold Melving on “IMY” and the Biggie Smalls samples that are peppered throughout the tape. However, her knowledge isn’t limited only to her East coast upbringing as she also samples the ever-relevant The Game on the melodic “Gone.” Eminem even makes an appearance with the “Stan” sample-driven “Friends by Night” in which lines from Stan’s final letter are repeated over and over throughout the song. Seneca’s knowledge of hip-hop is put on display during Friends and she really doesn’t disappoint as each sample seems to lay in perfectly with her backing production.
While Seneca makes some very sample driven tracks she also does an excellent job of laying down lush piano progressions or melancholy horn solos which she backs up with basic drums and cymbals. “Gentle Threats” is perfectly juxtaposed next to “Friends by Night” as her own production outshines the sample use in this case. Furthermore, since the project as a whole has no original vocals, the samples do an acceptable job at filling in that gap.
Which brings me to the one thing that Seneca B is lacking here: vocals. I don’t mean this in a negative way at all though. To me, Seneca seems like far too talented of a producer to not have gotten any attention from some MCs who are looking for high-quality jazz production. Tracks like “Get Down” would sound excellent with a couple verses from someone like Joey Bada$$ while I can hear Action Bronson’s unique flow working well on “Ko.Cane.” I could even see a very fruitful partnership forming between Seneca and some of the breakout backpack rappers who are grinding right now like Mick Jenkins and even our friend Sage the 64th Wonder. As long as the quality of her production remains the same I see no reason why this isn’t a possibility for Seneca B in the future.
Friends blew me away upon first listen and it is still doing so as I listen to it for the twenty-seventh time. Seneca B could find some real success right now with the sect of the hip hop community that still sticks to the old school and has yet to move on to trap and the glitz-and-glamour rap of today. Something reminiscent of Statik Selektah’s recent Lucky 7 would be a dream come true and hopefully it isn’t too far around the corner. What are your first impressions of Seneca B? Does she have what it takes to make it as a producer? Let us know what you think below and don’t forget to listen and download Friends for free here.