Just Beat It!


Instrumental leftfield hip-hop is once again exploding, with tons of new players emerging from online labels and MySpace pages. The abstract sound (also referred to as “headz”)–a combo of hip-hop drum programming, funky loops, strange samples, and intricate, choppy production blended into an often meditative brew–originated in the '90s, with Mo Wax and Ninja Tune artists DJ Krush, The Prunes, Funky Porcini, and DJ Food.

Some new names making waves include Glasgow’s Hudson Mohawke, Los Angeles’ Flying Lotus, and Japan’s Mitsu The Beats. Singles like Ubiquity’s Choices EP or Rush Hour’s Cinnaman & Jay Scarlett Present Beat Dimensions Vol 1 offer nice previews of this new crop.

A few other releases by new and established beat-smiths are also worth sleuthing out:

Joe BeatsDiverse Recourse (Bully Records)
The 18 soulful and swinging instrumentals on Diverse Recourse showcase Joe Beats’ knack for mutating funky samples and rattling beats into head-nodding treats. The album is mixed seamlessly; each track invisibly blends into the next in a dreamy mélange of dark, complex soundscapes. Mr. Dibbs, Blockhead, and Non-Phophets are all fans. This is a watershed album for this young producer, out May 29.

DJ BabuThe Beat Tape Volume 1 (Nature Sounds)
Beat Junkie and Dilated Peoples’ DJ Babu hardly needs an introduction. His Duck Season battle-tool series and record-setting wins in turntablist competitions speak for themselves. But did you know he could get nice on the sampler? The Beat Tape is a fitting intro to Babu’s production steelo. He offers gritty drums, bouncy loops, and lots of elephant-butt bass. Wanna-be MCs can spit over any of 32 selections–a thorough presentation without question.

Thisish Vol. 1, Hosted by Large Professor (Thisish) Hot new beats from a crew of talented Brooklyn producers, each with their own unique style. Main Source emcee Large Professor ad libs and introduces the 21 tracks, as producers Marshall Law, Cresh Frazy, Johnny 5, and others get down with ill sounds. Cresh’s illbient-meets-dark-hop will give you goosebumps, while Law’s sexy, sample-strewn beats will please breakers and b-boys/girls alike.

Joe Beats' Diverse Recourse, Babu's The Beat Tape, and Thisish Vol. 1.