As we do every year, we asked some assorted homies to tell us about their favorite beats of the year. The 2012 Metal Lungies Super Friends are…
- Hit-Boy – Tomorrow’s super producer (HITStory, “Niggas in Paris”)
- Chuuwee – Sacramento rhyme technician (Wild Style)
- Mo Kolours – Half-Mauritian beat-making wunderkind (EP2: Banana Wine, “Brave” / “Dredd Music”)
- Ray West – Bronx boom bap scion (LUV NY)
- Jeff and Eric Rosenthal of ItsTheReal, twerking at the intersection of Judaism and hip-hop.
- Adrian Carter – Cooler than you
- Metal Lungies editor-in-chief KNOBBZXL aka Bigg Moose aka Evan Nabavian
Al Dobson Jr.
Al Dobson Jr. – Track5
Mo Kolours: This track should make the best of ‘em move!
Alchemist – Yacht Rock Side A (ft. Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Oh No)
Evan: I’m calling it. Alchemist is Producer of the Year. The Odditorium, Russian Roulette, Rare Chandeliers, “Medicine Man”, (*pauses to catch breath*) No Idols, and “Yacht Rock” show a producer with more ideas than he knows what to do with. You know how rappers and producers will casually rattle off a list of amazing upcoming projects in interviews and then never make any of them? Alchemist made a career’s worth of mind-crushing music in 2012 and the capstone is “Yacht Rock”. Similar in structure to Donuts, “Yacht Rock” is an eleven-minute featurette of sunset-jet ski-all-you-can-drink-fine living sounds where unlikely but completely appropriate samples wash in and out with waves and dolphin sounds and goonhead rappers like Roc Marciano and Big Twin. It’s impossible to pick the best Alchemist beat of 2012, so I’ll give it to the craziest.
French Montana – Pop That (ft. Rick Ross, Drake, Lil Wayne)
The Rosenthals: You know a beat is powerful when master beat-selector Rick Ross fiends for the instrumental, bullies you to get it, and you don’t give it up. After street hits like “Chopper Chopper Down” and “Shot Caller,” French Montana got his monster crossover single with “Pop That,” and subwoofers all over the world are very pleased. Anthony Lee gets supreme credit for looping Uncle Luke’s “I Wanna Rock” and single-handedly bringing bass back to clubs, cars, and iPods.
Ca$h Out – Hold Up
Chuuwee: I don’t even know who made made this and the song is horrible but that beat is crazy! Its just dope as fuck to me wrote a verse to this one too.
Rick Ross – Amsterdam
Adrian Carter: Producer out of New Jersey, Cardiak did his thing on this. Being a big Ross fan, I did not particularly enjoy this album. I think he has reached his peak and his method is now becoming a bit redundant. However, this shit bangs. The Cortex sample compliments Ross’ ability to paint pictures with words. Very smooth track.
Darq E Freaker
Darq E Freaker – Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine) (ft. Danny Brown)
Evan: I have a coworker who justifies listening to fist pump shit by saying “it serves it’s purpose” as if shitty music is a necessary evil when you hit the club. Wrong! Someone from Resident Advisor would likely offer a more substantial treatise on the merits of good dance music, but getting ignorant on Friday night simply isn’t a good excuse to listen to Pitbull or whatever-the-fuck. Case in point: “Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine),” a song steeped in ignorance that turns the room all the way up. The pipe organ stabs are an instant adrenaline booster as is Danny Brown’s squeal when paired with the track’s energy. Leave it to UK grime to inform hip-hop’s most debauched moment in years.
Dougie, Young Chop
Chief Keef – Love Sosa
Chuuwee: I’m one of few Chief Keef fans. Lil homie reminds me of the lil homies in Sac so I feel and relate to everything he says. And this beat is amazing. The drums bang, the claps are intriguing and it keeps me hype when they play it before shows.
Rick Ross – Hold Me Back
Chuuwee: I don’t know who did this one either but the drums really make me hype. The bass is sick and again I wrote a verse to this also, lol.
Justin Bieber – Right Here (ft. Drake)
Hit-Boy: It just takes me back to the 90s. It just feels so good. That’s why I like that beat so much.
Kendrick Lamar - Backseat Freestyle
Hit-Boy: The energy of it is just amazing. You’re forced to move as soon as it comes on, so I really like that beat.
Hit-Boy (co-produced by Kanye West, additional production by Anthony Kilhoffer, Noah Goldstein)
Kanye West, Jay-Z, Big Sean - Clique
Hit-Boy: The sonics on the record — it’s so simple and minimal, but it sounds huge at the same time, so I just felt like — not only because I did the beat, but it’s really good.
Rosenthals: Beautiful in its simplicity, “Clique” is somewhere between a submarine and a monster. It screams; it plods. Yet, it’s open enough for Big Sean, Jay-Z, and Kanye to move all around on. And proof that Kanye is loving the opus? He chose to open his set at the 12.12.12 concert – seen by upwards of two billion people – with it. Hit-Boy created in one track both the coolest song and hottest beat of the year.
Rick Ross – 3 Kings (ft. Dr. Dre, Jay-Z)
Chuuwee: Something about this beat just spoke to me from the jump. I wrote a verse to it in the car and sadly found out Jake One said he wasn’t gonna release it.
JeenBassa – Roedel
Mo Kolours: This is highly original track from the new talent and soul loop connoisseur JeenBassa.
Ka – Collage
Ray West: The way the drums lay over the melodic sample… Perfect match.
Kid Cudi – Just What I Am (ft. King Chip)
Hit-Boy: I just like the emotion of the beat. The way he put it together is dope.
Lifted (additional production by Kanye West)
Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz – Mercy
Adrian Carter: I did not like this song when I first heard it. Then I realized I just didn’t like the lyrics much. The beat and the hook are nuts though. It’s simple but powerful. A nice display of less is better. And who doesn’t like the Fuzzy Jones sample? Ultimately, I like the video more, which made me give the song a second chance, then ended up giving a ton of respect to the producer.
Trinidad James – All Gold Everything
Rosenthals: The beat is undeniable: it stomps heavy, the modern-day equivalent of the swerving cars in the “Still Tippin’” video. For a song with so few lyrics, the beat is that much more important, and M.E. delivers on what appears to be his first placement ever. The stabs that come in at just the right times, the “uh, uh, uh, uh” in the background, the whirring kazoos…so crazy, but so good.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Shame (ft. BJ the Chicago Kid)
Ray West: It sounds like you are in the studio listening to what they are working on. It’s not over produced.
Adrian Carter: I remember the homie DJ Jerome Baker 3rd mentioned this project to me. Dude is extra picky about his hip hop. The chemistry between Gibbs and Madlib is crazy. Two raw talents coming together to create amazing work. Plus, it’s classic Madlib shit. What’s there not to like?
Evan: “Shame” is full of subtle touches that give an ostensibly simple beat infinite replay value: the way the loop cuts unexpectedly, the little guitar note in the middle, and the clinking noise in the background all amount to a track with real warmth and texture. Pete Rock fans know what I’m talking about. BJ The Chicago Kid sings what could have easily been a chipmunked hook so that “Shame” is so sultry that you forget it’s hardcore pimp shit.
Mike WiLL Made It
DJ Infamous – Itchin’ (ft. Future)
Hit-Boy: Just the energy of it. When it comes on in the club, it instantly makes me move, so I really like that beat.
Mike WiLL Made It (co-produced by Marz)
Future – Turn On The Lights
Rosenthals: In the first fifteen seconds, the song switches venues three times. First, it sounds like a cocktail party; as fingers walk up and down the ivory keys, one imagines Future wearing a tuxedo jacket with tails. Then, it sounds like Christmastime in a suburban mall for some reason. And when everything cuts out, save for the drums that sound like a heartbeat and the quiet harp-strumming of angels, and one wonders if this is heaven or a hospital room. Somehow, it only improves from there.
Nas – Stay
Ray West: The track he did for Nas… It is personally my favorite on Nas’ LP because of the stripped down/no big drums street jazz.
Oddisee – Ain’t That Peculiar
Adrian Carter: Oddisee is like one of my big brothers and we do work together, but, we are going to put that to the side for a moment. While Oddisee’s project Odd Renditions was an amazing concept and well executed project overall, this track stood out on its own. All of the elements in that beat created an incredible marriage and gave this classic a dope new take.
Lil’ Durk - L’s Anthem
Charli XCX – So Far Away
Mo Kolours: Paul is a brother from another mother.
Kool Keith, Roc Marciano – Pressure Up
Evan: “Pressure Up” challenges you with its simplicity. You can count the elements of this beat on one hand. Front and center is a spacey seven note piano loop that plays like a daydream. If we go way back to the original tenets of rap production, beats are meant to elicit rhymes, nothing more, nothing less. But have you ever gone to an underground rap show where every rapper insists on dropping an a capella freestyle to prove himself? His rhymes are so ill they need to be heard in a vacuum. Ultra-sparse beats produce a similar effect while giving the rapper some direction. So naturally, “Pressure Up” features stream of consciousness rhymes two of the best people rapping today and I’d venture to guess that Ray West’s beat helped make it happen.
Roc Marciano – We Ill
Ray West: The beat is mysterious. It’s raw and sinister. Besides the beat, the whole track with his rhymes… The overall production of the song sounds special.
Roc Marciano – Thugs Prayer Pt. 2
Evan: And then Roc Marciano made a sprawling, constantly changing beat that encapsulates a three act noir gangster flick in a minute and a half.
Kendrick Lamar – The Recipe
Adrian Carter: When I heard this track, I thought it sounded incredible. I respect producers that sample modern music and make it sound even better. Not to mention the sample just went well with the theme of the song. Well put together song that we will hear at least once or twice during summers to come. The actual Twin Sister song is pretty good also.
Showbiz & A.G. – The Bond
Ray West: This was a surprise for me ’cause he flipped a record I know well. Never expected it! The way drums came in! Really hard!
Download: Showbiz & A.G. – The Bond
Tenderlonius - Hold on
Mo Kolours: Tender is a brother from a different mother.
Tight Face – Dreads so Dirty
Mo Kolours: A gem from Mr. face himself!
Chief Keef – Kobe
Chuuwee: This shit slaps. Period. When this comes on WE TURN UP. I just love the way this shit sounds.