I’ve been on a BIG instrumental kick lately, for the past year and a half or so. I’m a beats first person. I haven’t always been that way, in my younger years, I was all about lyrics. I could recite any of the first three Run DMC albums, LL’s Bigger & Deffer, the Beasties Licensed To Ill. Somewhere along the way though, my fascination started with beats and the music. It might be because in the 80′s, it was all about a drum machine and some 808, which I still love, but it’s not the most intricate music ever. Beats started playing more of a roll in the actual music and I’ve been captivated ever since.
I think what appeals to me is I can throw an instrumental album while doing shit around the house, or at work, or in the car and I can just zone out to it. I have the tendency to get rather wrapped up in the beats though, tapping out drum patterns and humming bass lines. Great for just vibing out on a Sunday afternoon as well.
This year, the top five instrumental albums are some of my favorite projects of the year, all possibly taking a spot in my top projects of the year so far. After that though, the reason why I didn’t listen to many instrumental joints before Dilla’s Donuts kicks in, which means sometimes they were just beats, nothing more and nothing less. Nothing wrong with that, but these listed here today are more than just beats, they are an album. You get more bang for your buck. Any of these five could be thrown on at any time and get my head noddin’.
5. Batsauce – Spy Vs. Spy
If I had to make a list of my top five favorite current producers, Batsauce would rank right near the top on that list. After dropping 1971 and the EXCELLENT Gypsy Diaries, Bat came with the James Bond/Spy movies themed Spy Vs Spy. It’s just like it sounds, music that inspires a motion picture of spies, whining dining, crashes, double crossing and love making. Batsauce executes the concept quite well and gives the project an added replay value to it. It’s still got that typical Bat sound (he has a “sound”, one that sounds dusty, yet funky). Bat continues to show why he should be the next “up and coming” producer (check the three beats he has on Mr. Lif’s new album). The Bat to the Sauce is only going to get better and better.
2. Priveledged Information
3. Danger Zones
6. Code Breaker
8. Hot Pursuit
10. I Spy
11. Some Secret
12. Go Beyond
13. Far Away
14. Undercover Blues
15. Medically Unfit
16. The Picture
17. Lab Rats
18. Los Alamos
19. In The Cold
20. Code of Conduct
21. Surprise Attack
24. Spy Triptych
4. Diego Bernal – For Corners
Who would have thought it, a lawyer making INCREDIBLE beats. Coming from absolutely now where, this civil rights attorney has turned in the surprise album of the year, and I’m not just talking about instrumentals. The whole project For Corners by Austin, Texas native Diego Bernal, is phenomenal. I have this in my top 10 albums of the year so far, so that goes o show you what I think of the top three albums. I don’t even remember how I ran across this project or where I found it, probably HHB or something, but from the very first track, Diego’s Donut (RIP Dilla), you are hipped to something that you know is going to be special. I was hesitant at first seeing the title for the first song, thinking this would be another Dilla imitation, but far from it. You can sense that Diego was inspired by Dilla (who isn’t in this day of age), but Diego does his own thing, with a latin swing. Dusty samples, horns and bass lines scatter the soundscape and turn this project into an INCREDIBLE piece of work. The best of all? It’s free…..BUT you can purchase a hard copy (mine is coming this week) from Exponential Records
For Corners is the first full length album from Diego Bernal, a civil rights attorney and beatsmith, located in San Antonio, TX. For Corners is Diego Bernal’s love letter to the music, cultures, era and people that nurtured him.
The music is dusty and layered with Latin soul, from the triumphant blasts of horns to the laid back groove of lowrider melodies. It is a call to return to the simplicity and integrity of hip-hop’s best moment and an invitation to enjoy a slightly different kind of southern comfort. Not so much dirty south as directly south. The full album is a completely free download. Enjoy!
Purchase CD: http://www.antipop.net/shop/
DOWNLOAD ALBUM ARTWORK
01. Diego’s Donut (RIP J. DIlla)
02. Armor All’d Out
03. Bring It On Home
04. Damn You
05. Dusty Sanchez
06. Father’s Son
07. Fat Sal
08. Go Diego Go
09. I Have a Long… Resume (Interlude)
10. May Day
11. Momma’s Boy
12. Money Cash Woes (Interlude)
13. MC Rakim Cool Kane and the DJ Furious Boyz Crew (1986)
15. My Friend Wants to Know (Interlude)
16. The Pause Tape Trainer
17. Velcro Flow
18. Summer’s Over (Interlude)
19. The Way It Was
Artist: Diego Bernal
Album: For Corners (Digital)
Release Date: February 24th, 2009
Exile is a producer that has steadily moved up my ranks of favorite producers for awhile now. I always dug his work with Aloe Blacc as Emanon and of course his contribution to this decade’s classic Below The Heavens with Blu is something that legends are made of. My fondness for Radio comes in two parts, the first being the creativeness that went into it. Using stuff he found of the radio (read the CDs liner notes to get the full appreciation) is something that I’m pretty sure no one did before. The more I watch him do stuff like this, the more appreciation I have for what he created on Radio. Second, it’s just good music.
2. Kid Hum – Fossil Fuel
Know the name Kid Hum, and know it well. This kid outta Denver (now residing on some tropical island out in the Pacific) dropped one of the most incredible instrumental albums I’ve heard in….well, a long ass while. This album got me through the slow months of January and February music wise. I would play it so much, I would wake up in the middle of the night with a beat going through my head from Kid Hum’s Fossil Fuel project. I still play it on a weekly basis. There are just some catchy tunes going on, with a variety of sample sources (I’m not going to pretend I know all of them, but trust me, it’s varied). I’ve been singing his praises since late last year when he first showed up on the scene with the Whygee & Sunkstate project Suicide Watch. The three track stretch of “Prayer”, “Church”, and “Bells” haunted my subconscious like nothing since Donuts. I think Kid Hum has a fan base that is just waiting to discover him. The album was turned into a vocal project, which is nice and all, but I still find myself going back to the instrumentals more often than not.
PRODUCED BY KID HUM
AVAILABLE NOW AS A FREE DOWNLOAD…
The Official Website for Kid Hum’s “Offshore Drilling”
Download Kid Hum “Offshore Drilling”
1. CY YUNG “AUDOBON”
2. WHYGEE “KLONOPINS”
3. PREZZURE “NEVER SAY NEVER”
4. SUNKEN STATE “GINGIVITIS”
5. BROWN BAG ALL STARS “DISAPPOINTMENT”
6. JUNCLASSIC “ANGST”
7. JOULZ IL “FUEL (MY MICROPHONE)”
8. HELLZ YEA! “RTD ANTHEM”
9. L. CHANES “CHURCH”
10. PUGZ ATOMZ FT. PRIMERIDIAN & AWDAZCATE “THE RIDE”
11. BRAILLE “THINKING SHOES”
12. CY YUNG “CY DE B”
13. BLUE FACE (SKY 7TH & LOU SLEEFE) “50 YEARS”
14. BONUS TRACK: JUNCLASSIC “PASSPORT”
15. BONUS TRACK: SUNKEN STATE “CAVITIES”
1. Blueprint – Sign Language
It was a tight race between the top four projects. Blueprint’s edged the others out, simply because I still come home and play this to wind down after a long day at work, or during those “special” moments with M.J. if you know what I mean. When you only have six tracks on your project, there isn’t much room for mistakes and on Sign Language, there are no mistakes, only great, emotion stirring tracks. I have always liked Blueprint, but this release caught me by somewhat surprise. I just wish there was a vinyl release for it, that’s the only thing I can fault it for.