Keyboard Kid 206 The Transition EP
As cult rapper Lil B's main producer, Keyboard Kid 206 has been at the forefront of the based movement, crafting tracks out of Goo Goo Dolls samples and basically soundtracking Lil B's "common vibe of peace." The literally named Transition EP is Keyboard Kid's first official release without Lil B, and it makes a strong case for the based aesthetic owing as much to the beats as Lil B's intense charisma. Building off a template of positive-affirmation synth washes and trap rap-meets-frenetic techno, The Transition recalls a bit of Rustie and AraabMuzik, but with a sugar-coated immediacy that's unique to Keyboard Kid 206.
Immediacy can be a polite way of saying "shitty production," and as far as Keyboard Kid 206 is concerned, there's a pretty big range of polish between his best and worst beats. The Transition EP is mostly in line with his better work, but there's a definite sense that these beats were made in quick moments of inspiration. The high midrange buzz of "Welcome X," for example, is the kind of beat that would fatigue most producers' ears to the point of scrapping it; there's layer after layer of melody, each one squeezing out the last, the whole thing building until the track morphs into a manic flurry of chipmunk vocals and stompy kick drums, almost like a parallel vision of happy hardcore.
Lil B's shadow does sneak in here and there, notably on "The Most," which seems like a beat custom-made for him. However, Lil B's monotone drawl is absent, and it's hard not to hear the candy bed laid out for him and imagine that voice anyway, shifting back and forth, on and off the beat, circulating through brilliance and nonsense while masses of strings and stuttered snares pile over each other.
"Long Live Swag" closes out the EP similar to the mania of "Welcome X," sounding like the ecstasy-fed companion to AraabMuzik's "Underground Stream." But where "Underground Stream" is all doom and menace, "Love Live Swag" revives the pill-rush cheesiness of an old DJ Sy record, complete with a half-tempo breakdown and a cheerocracy of positive synth riffs. The only thing missing here is a cuddle puddle.
Considering Keyboard Kid 206 got into making beats after hearing Kanye West's "Through the Wire," The Transition EP is an undeniably weird place to end up. It's also no small testament to the game-changing power of the based movement that an EP like this could even be considered rap, something Lil B's anti-rapping has garnered most of the credit for. But when these beats are put in isolation, it's obvious that part of the brilliance also belongs to Keyboard Kid 206. Very few people are taking risks like this, and even though the execution is occasionally lacking, The Transition EP is a worthy satire of rap's old-guard complacency.
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