If you’re reading this, you made it. You got through this year and right now, that’s enough. There are far more eloquent people than me who have dissected the ins and outs, rights and wrongs and ups and downs of this year. My feeling is that 2020 put everything under the microscope: the good, the bad, and very definitely the ugly too. Relationships were tested, our normal ways of existing were discarded and for many, their very survival was pushed to the limit. It’s tough to get through years like this on your own, which is why I remain ever grateful for the musical family we’ve built at First Word. That all of our artists managed to create, write and just get through the damn day over these last 12 months is worth celebrating.
So, to the music on this compilation - there’s selections from every artist who released something with us this year, including newcomers Werkha, Allysha Joy, Takuya Kuroda and Olivier St.Louis. There’s a couple of exclusives from our extended family in Mo Fingaz and Jake Milliner. There’s a festive favourite from Tawiah and a sneak peek at the next record from the one and only Kaidi Tatham. We’ve included three tracks that reflect this year in a very specific way: our good friends at CoOp Presents leant us Reginald Omas Mamode IV’s ‘400 Years’ which sits alongside Essa’s ‘Justice’ as reminders of how far we still have to go in finding justice and peace for people of colour.
I also had to remember those we’ve lost this year, and foremost in my mind was Ty. He was a relentless supporter of ours, encouraging us from the early days of the label and also as massive inspiration to us through his music, particularly 2004’s ‘Upwards’. We never released a track featuring Ty rapping or producing, but we do have an interlude from Homecut’s ‘No Freedom Without Sacrifice’ album, recorded on a club in a boat in Paris in 2008. Listening to it makes me smile - I can still picture him stood by the bar of an empty venue, glancing at us over his glasses before delivering exactly what we wanted in one take. We miss you Ty, Rest in Peace.
I love these all of the artists on this record so much and I hope you do too. Can’t wait for us to get them all together again before too long. Here’s to better times around the corner….
Much Love to you and yours
Gilla, London December 21st 2020
PS - In 2010 I began the tradition of releasing these free comps at Christmas. I uploaded the last track on Two Syllables Volume Five at three in the morning on 21st December as my wife was going into labour. 10 hours later our daughter was born. Today she is 10. And for that, I am truly thankful.
This album is free to download, a Christmas gift from me to you :)
If you do want to pay for it, all proceeds will be donated to Southwark Food Bank (part of the Trussell Trust) www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/southwark/
released December 21, 2020
Compiled and designed by DJ Gilla