If you didn’t know Tommy Guerrero was a key figure in the history of skateboarding, you would probably think he was a key figure in the history of skateboarding. I mean, that name. It just sounds like a skateboarder’s name. Maybe I’m just saying that because I know he’s a skateboarder, but the first time I heard Guerrero’s music, it was a big surprise. Unlike the watered-down hip-hop or pop-punk dribble you might expect from a former skateboarder, Guerrero’s music (at least during his solo career) is a laid-back, mostly instrumental mix of funk, rock and various other genres.
From the Soil to the Soul is Guerrero’s debut for the excellent Quannum label, which is located in the native-San Franciscan’s backyard, and it’s a local record in the strongest sense of the word. It’s also probably the most organic-sounding record he’s made. Which is ironic, considering Quannum’s hip-hop reputation. Relaxed tracks like “Hello Again” and “Salve,” which features an excellent guest vocal from label-mate Curumin, drift up against funkier cuts like “Badder Than Bullets” and “Let Me in Let Me Out” with that other label-mate Lyrics Born. But through it all, the record is mellow without being dull. Only the latter track and its follow-up “Molotov Telegram,” pump up the volume, and it’s not entirely successful. Loud tracks are much better to start off a record, particularly a mood-leveling record like this one.
If I haven’t made it clear enough, From the Soil to the Soul would be really good if you got high. Me, I don’t get high; it fucks with my chi. And I don’t mean it’s only good high, or that you should get high, turn off the lights, fire up a candle and Pink Floyd that shit. But if you’ve got a giant field in your backyard, an eighth of Humboldt, some nice friends and a loudspeaker, you could do worse. However, if you got Guerrero’s solo debut, the shimmering, blissful A Little Bit of Somethin’, you couldn’t do much better. Hint, hint, et cetera.