My stomach hurts and my throat is on fire. I wish I could sit on the toilet and re-read all seven Harry Potter books, but I can’t do that right now. I’m a working man. Kind of. I have to put in some good hours so that they’ll hire me at the end of this internship. I miss college so much, but I try not to dwell on the good times I took for granted — Halo 3 marathons and staying up until 3:00 with no repercussions. Time to be a grown up.
New York City is freezing and my blood is barely moving by the time I get to Penn Station. I get home at 11:00 and spare an hour of sleep to listen to LiveLoveASAP again. 2011 was rough. We lost Amy Winehouse, Gil-Scott Heron, Heavy D, and Nate Dogg. There were riots and protests all over the world. But I’ll sleep soundly tonight, heartened by the fact that my new baby cousin has all his toes and fingers and that this year, the following beats were dope.
As is tradition, we gathered some friends to each pick their five favorite beats of the year. 2011′s swaggiest are…
Pete Rock – Soul Brother #1
Big K.R.I.T. – Mississippi maestro
Mark Ronson - DJ, super-producer, the man
Dave1 – 1/2 of Chromeo, expert funkateer, style guru, life long hip hop connoisseur
Waka Flocka – Hardest in the paint
Georgia Anne Muldrow – Stones Throw lady
Nick Speed – One of Detroit’s finest
And your humble editor, KNOBBZXL aka Evan Nabavian
Adele Adkins, Dan Wilson
Adele – Someone Like You
Big K.R.I.T.: You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that’s making music better than Adele right now. She is an amazing songwriter, producer and vocalist. I’d love to work with her.
Agallah – Living In My Past
HL: In 2011 we witnessed enthusiasm for the ill-fated Dipset reunion dissipate into oblivion, leaving behind an unwarranted sequel to Boss Of All Bosses and several blasphemous golden-age Jim Jones freestyles as the final remnants of “the movement to move with.” Perhaps our collective listening ears dodged a bullet, because Harlem’s homecoming would’ve likely sucked dolphin dick with Dr. Dre and AraabMusik the steering helm. If the Dips were truly serious about recapturing that abrasive soul associated with their mid-aughts run, they would’ve considered recruiting the infallible Don Bishop Agallah. “Living In My Past” bears as much energy as anything I’ve heard on urban radio this year, while remaining undeniably New Yitty.
B. – Doo Wop (ft. Planet Asia, Killer Ben)
HL: Alchemist donned several ten-gallon hats in 2011, with each style being distinctly insular. He coughed up blunted ambiance for Covert Coup, delivered inclement paranoia on Black Cocaine, and donated apocalyptic boom-bap to Cats and Dogs. But most notably, Alan provided Blu with his most soulful canvas since “Til I Die.” Minimalism has always been most effective in the hands of those with discerning taste. It’s what separates “Doo Wop” from it’s lazy, awkward, contrived, vastly overrated bizarro incarnation known as “Otis.” This year, and arguably the twelve years prior, belonged to Alan The Chemist.
Curren$y & Alchemist – Smoke Break
Rebecca Haithcoat: It’s not the best song on Curren$y and Alchemist’s joint collaboration, Covert Coup, nor does the NOLA rapper stretch lyrically in it. But Alchemist has crafted the perfect getaway track for Spitta Andretti’s movie. The sleepy-eyed stoner has just pulled off the coup of the century (stealthily touring, collecting girls and both kinds of green at every stop, and blowing smoke in the faces of shady industry suits). As the sun sets on his baby blue Ferrari snaking down the coast, you realize he’s getting away with it. This is the song playing as the credits roll. “Yeah, lil homie y’all can get down, but I bet y’all can’t keep up.”
Roc Marciano – Hoard 90
Evan: We look to artists like Roc Marciano and Alchemist for their marshes of lo-fi fuzz, grit, dust, and dirt. That’s why the adamantine guitar sample on “Hoard 90″ pops out like a sword of light cutting through a blanket clouds. Roc Marc tries to play it as low-key as ever, but bars like, “Laughing as I advertise fabulous rhymes / All that vernacular is fly. / Caught your eye with just one try,” beam like golden revelations.
Ben Frank – Ova (ft. Q-Mack)
PT PrimeTime: The reason I chose that one is because I can relate to that song a whole lot. That song right there is deep. It shows a lot of pain in that song also.
Listen: Ben Frank – Ova (ft. Q-Mack)
Beyonce, Jeff Bhasker, Kanye West
Beyonce – Party (ft. Andre 3000)
Nick Speed: That kind of reminded me of an 80s song. I just like how Andre came on it, plus I like the Slick Rick sample in. As many times as “La Di Da Di” has been sampled, I don’t think anybody actually took that part. Creative usage of Slick Rick in the beat. The tempo was dope, it reminded me of a Summer barbecue. That was real dope to me.
T.I. – I’m Flexin’
Big K.R.I.T.: T.I. is one of the torch-bearers for southern hip-hop. He’s definitely someone I’ve always jammed. Being afforded the opportunity to produce and be featured on his first offering to the public after getting out was a blessing. I’m glad people are digging it the way they are.
Jackie Chain – Parked Outside (ft. Bun B, Big K.R.I.T.)
Big K.R.I.T.: Man, this beat went through so many changes. I spent a few days trying get the drums to hit the way they do. I had to layer them in a real intricate way to get that vintage sound out of them. Also, I had to get the original sample replayed and the musicians who did it nailed it. This definitely turned out to be one of my favorite beats I did this year.
Untamed Ent – Million Dollar
PT PrimeTime: The reason I picked Untamed Ent’s “Million Dollar Swag” is because of the energy that it gives off and the whole club feel, the whole radio feel. It’s energy, straight energy behind. A lot of people liked it. It’s always good to have energy.
Boi-1da (additional production by Noah “40″ Shebib)
Drake – Headlines
Dave1: Headlines, I think is incredible. That kick drum sounds fucking phenomenal man. That kick drum is unbelievable.
Danny Brown – Pac Blood
Dave1: The way [he] flipped “Nautilus” by Bob James, and that song has been used to death. He used it with another filter underneath and they just gave it a new life.
Bronze Nazareth – King of Queens
Joey: Sample of the Year, not for its technical intricacy, not for its obscurity, not for its inventiveness. Merely because this joint knocks. Truly, this is hip-hop. The tempo is perfect, strolling along over the snares while Bronze spits in a relaxed cadence. You can’t help but nod your head, shake your shoulders, pump a fist, or maybe all three.
Lil B – Motivation
Craig S. Jenkins: A major musical obsession began in earnest early in the year when I copped Based God’s Angels Exodus (which, fuck what any forgetful end-of-the-year round-up tells you, remains the best Lil B release of the 2011) and checked the production credits only to find one name listed. The name was Clams Casino, and the track was “Motivation”, whose titanic instrumental brews with Clams’ personal pet sounds: human voices stretched and manipulated until they sound like whales moaning, shimmering blankets of static-laced synth haze, and tribal percussion breakdowns. I never found out who produced the rest of the album, and I can’t say that I care. I’d already found my favorite producer of the year.
Cool & Dre
Game – The City (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
Pete Rock: Kendrick Lamar kills this record. The melodic sound of the beat and the singing make this one of my favorites of 2011.
Game – Good Girls Go Bad (ft. Drake)
Jensen Karp: More soul sampling on this one, it’s the highlight (“Ricky” is a nice second place) of a decent Game album that most people either ignored or underrated. Great claps lead the way, do yourself a favor and give this album a shot. I’m not a huge Cool & Dre fan, but this one sings for sure. Drake references Milhouse on the song, so even if I’m wrong, it’s worth that laugh.
Daedelus – Penny Loafers (ft. Inara George)
Evan: Inara George’s velvet purr makes my brain warm. Daedelus takes her beautiful cadence and drapes it with exotic drums, well-to-do strings, and burning synths. I knew when I pressed play on Bespoke that there would be at least one song that would own me for the next 8 months. “Penny Loafers” is for ballroom dancing on the sun, for house parties where expensive cheeses are served. Stop me before I start writing sonnets.
David Banner – SWAG
Big K.R.I.T.: Shout to the big homie for spoon feeding people some healthy and hearty brain food. And, the beat jams.
DJ Burn One
G-Side – No Radio (ft. Bentley)
PT PrimeTime: “This shit ain’t for radio, this no BDS, this the shit that you listen to when relieving stress.” Basically, it’s hard. It’s something hard with G-Side. I like that.
Rittz – High Five
Big K.R.I.T.: Pure country rap tunes right here. This shit knocks. That Tommy Wright III sample flip worked out.
DJ Two Stacks
Kreayshawn – Gucci Gucci
Jensen Karp: Roll your eyes and shake your head all you want, but keep in mind this is a list of hottest BEATS, which has nothing to do with everyone’s most hated white girl. This beat is the main reason (along with the video director) Kreayshawn became a household name so quickly (keep in mind that household was destroyed in a earthquake 6 months later). Need proof? Listen to Lil’ Wayne’s version from the No Ceilings mixtape. I’m right, you’re wrong.
Rebecca Haithcoat: This song should play when 2011’s time capsule is opened. Two Stacks’ brew of warbly synths, yipped “mews,” a cartoonishly menacing undertone, and Kreayshawn’s own ridiculously catchy catchphrase “One big room, fulla bad bitches” is brilliant. Though not her own work, the lines couldn’t have been delivered any better by anyone else. It remains to be seen if she’ll be a one-hit wonder, and she has a nifty writer and Odd Future to thank for the layup, but she slam-dunked this one.
Bun B – Brolic
Georgia Anne Muldrow: This one is just ooozing funk. And the rhythmic space is incredible.
French Montana – Shot Caller (ft. Charlie Rock)
Waka Flocka: That’s the anthem right now. My brother French killing that right now.
Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean, (additional production by Anthony Kilhoffer)
Jay-Z and Kanye West – Niggas in Paris
Nick Speed: That track right there was an original track. It kind of reminded me of a mix between a game show, like The Price Right, and they also had a little gospel sample in there. That’s the sample of some “The Baptism” I think is the name of the song by some Southern reverend. So I thought that was real creative, because it’s a keyboard beat with a little bit of gospel in there too. Not to mention they performed it like seven times every time they went out.
Dave1: What’s cool about Paris, that it never really kicks in. It’s always just kicks and snares and it’s cool, it’s a really elliptical programing, it’s so simple and clean. The first time I heard it I actually didn’t think it was that good and two listens in I was sold. [In the club?] Yeah, that shit cray.
Yelawolf – Hard White (Up in the Club)
Rebecca Haithcoat: Dixie’s silver-tongued hope darts in and out of this straight banger of a beat. An unapologetic club single, Yela nonetheless elevates it by basically shitting on every rapper who actually frequents the club with a precision of flow that’s unmatched. It doesn’t matter if you’re so drunk you only catch Lil Jon hollering, “Happy Birthday!” Whatever Yela’s saying in fast-forward coupled with the shotgun drum blasts will hype you up. They better not play this at a redneck hoedown in the Dirty.
Meek Mill – I’m a Boss (Ft. Rick Ross)
Dave1: Oh man I love that, that’s bananas. That’s that 80′s, you’re [probably] surprised that I like all the kickboard shit. I couldn’t even tell if it was a sample or original. It’s got that original 80′s feel to it. Those are like those Just Blaze beats for the Diplomats, that’s what that reminded me of.
Justice - Audio, Video, Disco
Mark Ronson: This is what prog should sound like in 2012. The melody, chords, vocals, it’s fucking awesome. The tempo is slighty awkward to play it in my DJ set, I imagine it will probably take a dubstep remix to turn it into a dancefloor hit.
Drake – Lord Knows
Jensen Karp: Under a choir that would make Tim Tebow satisfied, these drums could make even the worst rapper sound good (word to Rampage the Last Boy Scout). I’m assuming at least 50% of people asked to partake in these lists picked this song, and they wrote about it in great detail, so I’ll use this last sentence to promote my art galleries (gallery1988.com).
Wale, Meek Mill, Pill, Rick Ross, Teedra Moses – Self-Made
Craig S. Jenkins: Just Blaze pulverized pretty much everything he touched this year to the point where picking the best is really just a game of favorites. He caught me with “Self Made,” the Maybach Music Group album opener and title track, though. That live band largess, the hollowed out bits where he lets Teedra Moses’ vocals bleed into the fore, the bits under Meek Mill’s and Wale’s verses where he peels back a couple instruments and lets the keys and guitar vibe out, the alarm clock that announces Pill’s verse, the string section breakdown toward the end, the piano breakdown after it, the sample of Wings’ “Jet”… Like, fuck.
Rick Ross – I Love My Bitches
Nick Speed: First of all it inspired me to want to make a beat. Secondly, that also had a little gospel influence in it too to me, but it also had soul samples in it. The drums was crazy. He had a lot of drum fields and a lot of drum breaks. Not sampled drum breaks, but he had a lot of different programming. His loop might have been 16 bars or something. He definitely got his program on, like he always does.
Jay-Z and Kanye West – Otis
Pete Rock: The way they spit the song made me like the beat.
Kanye West, Pete Rock (additional production by Mike Dean, Jeff Bhasker)
Kanye West & Jay-Z – The Joy (ft. Charlie Wilson, Kid Cudi)
Pete Rock: This one made it because I produced it. Lol. The Curtis Mayfield sample does it for me with this record.
Mark Ronson: Kanye has been very grateful as of late to the legendary producers who gave birth to a lot of our styles, RZA, Q-Tip, and Pete Rock etc… And Pete’s been on fire the past few years anyway (check “Be Easy” and any of his tracks off ofApollo Kids). “The Joy” is a perfect example of Kanye’s gratitude paying off in spades for all involved: the Curtis vocal, the Syl Johnson “uh” for extra golden-era cred, and the sputteringly late snare, they all frame Kanye & Jay’s vocals and make this feel like long lost classic.
Knife Knights PLCRS
Shabazz Palaces – Are You… Can You… Were You? (Felt)
Craig S. Jenkins: The beauty of “Are You…,” of all of the latest Shabazz Palaces album Black Up, really, is the way the music pairs classicist hip hop production with the modern avant garde. “Are You…” takes what seems to be a simple chop and outfits it with shambling, intricate percussion and experimental electronic noise like some kind of retro-futurist take on modern rap.
Lee Major of The Inkredibles
Rick Ross, Meek Mill & Wale – Play Your Part
Jensen Karp: If you told me in 2010 that a Wale song would be on any list I’d compile, I would’ve laughed at you and told to clean my room (my room is messy, nothing to do with the music). I don’t know much about Lee Major or The Inkredibles, and I won’t Google either just to seem smarter, I’ll just say it’s a great beat in the fashion of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League (a usual mainstay on my favorite beats list), and I love hearing D.A. on the hook as the whole thing just sounds very big. Good stuff, rich guys.
Waka Flocka – Round of Applause (ft. Drake)
Waka Flocka: This record is going to be big. All the ladies loving it. The clubs are on smash with this one for real.
Young Jeezy – I Do (ft. Jay-Z, Andre 3000)
Pete Rock: Great bass line.
Declaime – Apocalyptic Music (ft. Aloe Blacc)
Georgia Anne Muldrow: I love this track, it’s real involved. Madlib got the widest range in beats.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Thuggin’
Evan: “Syringes, rubber bands, needles, the 60s.” That particular Ghostface refrain is what comes to mind when I listen to “Thuggin’” Maybe it’s the ambling psychedelia of the beat paired with Gibbs’ surgically precise flow. Maybe the high, clear staccato guitar (?) reminds me of “Verbal Intercourse.” Or maybe it’s just the hook, which perfectly matches the high I get from this track, “And it feels so good. And it feels so right.” People aspire to be Dr. Dre or DJ Premier. No one aspires to be Madlib because they know they’ve got no chance.
KRS-One - AZTECHNICAL
Georgia Anne Muldrow: Amazing. It’s exactly the way a scroll should sound.
Martin “Doc” McKinney
The Weeknd – Wicked Games
Dave1: That’s crazy. It’s a Portishead hip hop thing. I mean listen, sonically what they’re doing, and it’s really tough for me to say this since I’m from Montreal, but Toronto is killing it this year. I tip my hat to them man, they are murdering the game production wise.
Danny Brown – Detroit 187
Evan: Nick Speed told me that Danny first recorded this song in his low voice, but I’m so glad he switched to the insane high pitched cartoon voice. Combined with the brooding, tinker toy beat, it makes “Detroit 187″ one of the more delightfully weird tracks on XXX. Like getting lost in an asylum.
Noah “40″ Shebib
Drake – Free Spirit (ft. Rick Ross)
Craig S. Jenkins: Hip hop heads hate Drake like he stole their high school sweetheart and dumped her after he beat, but I don’t get it. He’s obviously just a harmless R&B guy who just happens to rap, and what’s more, annoying though he may be, he makes sure to surround himself with a talented stable of collaborators at all times. Producer Noah “40” Shebib is arguably the wind in Drake’s sails musically speaking, and his spectral touch made 2011 urban radio a very strange place. Non-album cut “Free Spirit” showcased 40’s knack for taking not-so-cool source material and turning it into moody pop. Here 40 takes an old school Sade track and flips it into muted, vaguely Southern boom bap replete with his trademark industrial-sounding drums, barely there bass, and light guitar accents.
MED - Where I’m From (ft. Aloe Blacc)
Georgia Anne Muldrow: Song is baad! Oh No is one of the most consistent brothers doing it on the beats and that’s real.
Mark Ronson - Record Collection 2012 (Ft. Pharrell, MNDR, Wretch 32 & Wiley) (Perseus Remix)
Mark Ronson: Of any remix of one of my songs, this may be my all-time favourite to actually listen to (outside of the club). I love the way he changed the chord progression and then cleverly tuned MNDR’s vocals to match it. And the arpeggiating synth sounds like something out of an 80′s Michael Mann film like “To Live & Die In L.A.” Gildeas from Kitsune commissioned this mix and as soon as I heard it, I had to find out who this kid was.
Blu – The Clean Hand
Joey: Hip-Hop’s ghosts live on this track, the dusty, dulcet tones recalling the Digable Planets and Tribe, inviting everyone from early Busta to the late Biggie. Fresh though, “Clean Hand” enjoys some pop thanks to Blu’s sharp vocals and the lively undercurrent pushing the track forward. Most impressive, the beat holds its own against some of the best Pete Rock joints.
Danny Brown – Monopoly
HL: At this point you should certainly be familiar with Quelle Chris. After all, he was responsible for roughly 37.5% of The Hybrid’s brilliant soundscape. When I asked Quelle why he didn’t hoard “Monopoly” for his solo endeavor, he claimed the production simply didn’t fit into the mold of Shotgun and Sleek Rifle. Fortunately, it gelled perfectly with the zany atmosphere of Danny Brown’s XXX. In retrospect, passing this instrumental along to a more animated vocalist that could match its aggressive quirkiness proved to be an outstanding decision, and resulted in one of the strongest rap songs of 2011.
A.F.A.C – Left 2 Right (ft. PT PrimeTime)
PT PrimeTime: The reason I like this song is, I’m a big fan of Bravo and I’m a big fan of PT PrimeTime. I’m a big fan of myself. I like the energy in that song also. I like the way each artist was able to ride the beat with the flow and stay on cadence. Rich Green, he’s an awesome producer.
Riff Raff McGriff
Riff Raff McGriff – Moon Baby Morse Code
Georgia Anne Muldrow: This cat’s a boom bap genius. You can literally hear the morning mist on the battleground on this one.
Nas – Nasty
HL: One of my huskiest beefs with fellow chip-toothed fanboys is their failure to muster up the testicular fortitude to defend Salaam Remi. This year “Nasty” joined the ranks of classic street singles such as “Thief’s Theme” and “Made You Look.” Unfortunately, their latest collaboration never trickled down to the actual streets, and was confined to the virtual boulevards, avenues, and cul-de-sacs of the blogosphere. But lack of impact and influence shouldn’t detract from the quality of the record. Salaam provides a back-drop brimming with the type of grimace inducing low fidelity we’ve come to expect from southern California’s resident recluses, Blu and Madlib. So briefly suspend your unjustified hatred for Salaam Remi, pour a modest glass of cognac, light up a Cohiba Behike, and enjoy “Nasty” in all it’s distorted glory.
Danny Brown – Bruiser Brigade
Nick Speed: I had the album a little bit early, so the whole summer, I was just riding to that shit, we was getting drunk as hell, rolling downtown, attending wild parties, hanging with wild chicks and just listening to “Bruiser.” Just a laundry list of liquors and beers that he’s running down on that song and then not only that, but he had the Waka Flocka Flame adlibs added to it. For the beat itself, it had like a dubstep bassline, 808s, just the tempo. So it kind of satisfies my guilty pleasures. That was my party rocker for this year.
Wooh Da Kid – Feeling Good
Waka Flocka: Bricksquad Monopoly you already know. 2012 is gonna be big year for us. We taking over.
ASAP Rocky – Keep It G (ft. Chace Infinite, Spaceghost Purrp)
Evan: The ultimate riding tune, “Keep It G” glides on a serpentine trumpet melody that I’ll never get out of my head. I’m convinced that time slows down when I play this song. ASAP Rocky was the one rapper who broke out with a distinct sound that instantly made me a fan.
Spaceghostpurrp – Suck a Dick for 2011
Rebecca Haithcoat: Whether it’s the squealing synth, the muffled kick of the drum, or the fact that Miami’s Spaceghostpurrp chants “Suck a nigga dick fa 2011” for a full 45 seconds, his voice covered in a thick fuzz of reverb, this was my favorite in a year chock-full of anthems. Purrp’s is not the work of a prodigy producer cranking out purposefully lo-fi recordings in his parents’ basement — it’s messy, the song a C-section scarred-stripper dances to in the Deep South. Bucking rap’s traditional takes on oral sex, he directs shots neither at other rappers nor women. Instead, he shames those not having safe sex and reveals a feminist tendency. He really is straddling 1991 and 2011.
Rick Ross – The Transporter
HL: “The Transporter” was born out of the short-lived “Monster Mondays” promotion series, which oddly never lead up to an actual project. Quite frankly, I find it difficult to believe Swizz Beatz had a hand in this beautiful composition. But assuming he actually pounded this out on the MPC, God bless him for inspiring Rick Ross to channel his Deeper Than Rap era alliteration and flamboyant mafioso imagery. Unlike the bulk of Swizzy’s discography, “The Transporter” isn’t repetitive, but in fact quite layered and capricious.
Drake – Make Me Proud (ft. Nicki Minaj)
Waka Flocka: I like this song because it just shows my ladies I’m proud of what they doing. Going for theirs. Ya know?
Drake – The Motto (Ft. Lil Wayne)
Mark Ronson: I first heard Seb Chew play a leak of “The Motto” on London’s Rinse FM and it was the first beat in recent memory that made me go, “Who the fuck made that?” There’s not one drum sound or sample in it that you haven’t heard before and you could say that it’s a distant relative of some classic Too Short shit; however, it’s still wholly original in its own right. Plus, there’s a snare on the downbeat–which is hard as fuck to get away with in a club track. And the icing on the cake is that Drake sounds like he’s having a ball on the track, a rare occurrence on Take Care. Anyway, once I looked up who had made this track, I realized that T-Minus had already produced my other favourite hip-pop track of the year, “I’m On One”–which reminds me of Art Of Noise go Trap.
T-Minus (additional production by Noah “40″ Shebib, Kromatic)
DJ Khaled – I’m On One (ft. Drake, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne)
Dave1: I think T-Minus is my producer of the year, I’ve been telling that to everyone. You saw what he did right? He did “I’m on One” he did fuckin “She Will.” But yeah, so T-Minus, “I’m On One,” number one beat of the year. The keyboard lick, when it really kicks in…you’re waiting for it. It’s crazy man, all the change ups, and it’s still sort of subdued. That’s my shit.
Pete Rock: I like the beat and the sampled sound they used on this joint.
Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers
Jensen Karp: Although the whole album was a minor disappointment, nothing hit harder in 2011 than Tyler’s first real jump into mainstream, both lyrically and behind the boards. Stabbing chords, spastic drums, screeching hook – this painted the picture that would take the streets/malls/Hot Topics by storm, without any commercial structure or precedence. The pop anti-pop. Say what you will about Odd Future, but to ignore the lane, the sound, the groundwork they created this year would just be hating.
Rebecca Haithcoat: Hitchcock would have wanted this sparse, creepy opening strain to preface the shower scene in Psycho. Tyler exacerbates the effect with his equally ominous and sexy voice, which sounds like he just swallowed his rage but it’s barely contained. Plunked piano chords lend the song a wistful melancholy, a perfect contrast/complement to the callousness/vulnerability of the lyrics. If I were a 15-year-old misunderstood, teased male, I’d play this over and over while plotting my revenge.
Nick Speed: That beat right there was like a rebirth of the Wu-Tang movement. I think that that kind of brought back that sound to the forefront in the mainstream where it was getting attention from people like Pharrell and MTV. They took it back to not only Wu-Tang, but 90s independent hip-hop 12″ college radio kind of sound. And they actually brought that to the people where it was acceptable in a mainstream or commercial world.
Dave1: It has that WuTang feel, it’s like look man, I just recognize when I see guys like Tyler, ASAP, Danny Brown… I come from the underground, I came up with the underground. This gives me that feeling again, I mean I’m 33 and I’m waiting for a mix tape to drop on Monday like a fucking teenager? What the fuck is wrong with me?! For something in music to give me that feeling again, it’s been a while in hip hop.
9th Prince & Midaz – ThunderCats
Joey: Like walking through a valley of terror. The drums climbs high, the discordant synthesizers menace the shit of a listener, and it blares along like an assault. In an age of crooning Canadians and threadbare tough talk, something so elemental, grimy, and raw commands special respect.
Wiley – Numbers In Action
Mark Ronson: If you took Ying-Yang Twins’ “The Whisper Song” across the Atlantic Ocean and filtered it through the lens of a generation of UK grime music, it would sound like this. Like “The Motto”, i doubt there’s much in this beat that can’t be found in a Roland drum machine, but the way it’s crafted is wholly original. It’s an instant neck-snapper.
Young L – How I Got Here
Young L – Loud Pockets
Craig S. Jenkins: Young L is the future. He does whatever he wants behind the boards. Left field drum patterns? Sure. Ear-splitting synths? OK. Whole mixtape of songs sampling nothing but Imogen Heap? Why the fuck not? Of the three projects Young L released this year, Domo-Kun, followed was probably my favorite, closely followed by Praktica. That’s mostly thanks to ratchet ass instrumentals like “Loud Pockets” and “How I Got Here”, both of which cleverly pit swatches of wonky synth melody against impossibly massive drums. Crank this shit up to max volume and dumb the fuck out like I’m doing as I write this. BASS!