Toyin Mustapha and Rob Drake, a.k.a Toyboy & Robin, are almost a complete personification of the recent resurgence of populist house music. The London duo combine R&B samples with garage-inflected synth patterns to create some of the most accessible dance music i’ve come across since the breakout of Disclosure and Bondax.
In a recent interview with Rock Feedback both Mustapha and Drake talk about the influence of hip-hop and soul on their music and say that they each discovered dance music in their mid-to-late teens, a fact that is remarkable considering their prowess in the genre.
On their earlier releases such as ‘Loving You’ and ‘To The Top’ (below) the emphasis is clearly upon the use of the depth, layering and the manipulation of the vocal samples, a recurring theme throughout their entire discography. As they stated in the aforementioned interview “dance music is electronic, repetitive and very long” and, as almost degrading as that appears, they tick all of these boxes and successfully steer themselves away from the tendency to incorporate big drops in the mould of guys like David Guetta and Avicii.
In more recent releases Toyboy & Robin have moved in to the continuously undefined genre of bass music and have significantly increased their dependence on low-end in a similar way to that which has seen producers like Julio Bashmore and Duke Dumont gain significant popularity, however it is the depth of the records and the sheer hectic nature that sets these two apart. Where producers like George Fitzgerald and Scuba aim for a more refined output these guys actively pursue synths more heavily voiced and harmonised and drum beats that elaborate from the straight kick and clap rhythms popular in current trends.
New track ‘Jaded’, forthcoming on Cool Kid Music, epitomises this pursuit. Starting off with an glitchy combination of hats and hollow kicks, it is the manipulated vocal samples that provide the main hook before the four-note bass rhythm enters. Throughout the record it is the illiterate yearning of the vocals that retain attention whilst the synth work drops out and builds up effortlessly.
To me these guys seem the real deal, and the realist, business-minded approach they allude to in their interview will only stand them in good stead going forwards. That and they’re brilliant ability with female vocals. Keep an eye and an ear out for Toyboy & Robin in future months.