Let me kick of f this post by saying I’m not the instrumental head out of the group. Dart and Eric are the hardcore beat heads of the trio, and while I like beats and will admit I check for beats first on a song, I didn’t get as deep into the whole beat/instrumental culture as did Dart and Eric did this year. If you listened to the first ten or so shows of our Scrunchface Show, you’ll know that it was almost all instrumental based. That goes to say I wasn’t exposed to as much instrumental projects as those two were, I still had a bunch of projects that I got down with and bumped on a regular basis. This is the list of some that stayed in my iPod throughout most of the year.
1. Diego Bernal - Besides… (Cop it Here)
What was originally supposed to be a supplement of sorts, beats left off of the For Corners project he dropped last year, turned into it’s own full fledged project. For Corners was up there in the top 10 albums for me last year, but it’s quite possible that the shortened, more focus Besides… is even better. Containing eleven short and precise tracks of thick bass lines, thumping drums and obscure, dusty samples, Besides… contains a little more hip hop flavor than the last project may have contained. Tracks like “El Corrido de Chico B”, interlope a traditional (and I’m talking late 70′s/early 80′s) hip hop vibe that sounds like some break dancing shit on steroids. It’s got a gang of sounds going on it, but it still keeps that vibe together with a wicked drum track. The deep rumbling bass found on “Blue Neon”, is perfect for riding around with the roof blown and some twelves in the trunk. While it’s an instrumental album, it’s all about the songs. This is no random beat tape that you are listening too, they have structure, changes in sounds, moods, and would stand on their own just fine.
2. Damu The Fudgemunk – How It Should Sound (Volumes 1 & 2) (Cop Here or Here for iTunes)
I’ve already sang my praise for Damu The Fudgemunk as a producer on my Favorite Producers of 2010 post, but I’ll do it again. Damu could be looked upon as the savior of that authentic, dirty, dusty, sampled hip hop sounds. Sure, a lot of cats are still doing it, but Damu is doing it the best. How It Should Sound is simply a bunch of older stuff that Damu has done over the years (2008 being the newest track), but it’s so much more than that, it’s quality hip hop, no matter what year it was made. The title track is a prime example of that sound, with horns chopped up over some dusty drums and light keys. It takes it back, but still can get a head noddin’ in the year twenty ten.
3. Tough Junkie - Almost Sleep (Cop it Here CHEAP!)
Tough Junkie crafted a phenomenal piece of music with his Almost Sleep project. Possessing subtle strings, strong snares, great samples and everything else that makes a strong instrumental album. Each song is unique upon itself and holds it’s own identity quite well. “Dusty’s Sun” makes use of a vocal sample and builds around that, giving it an almost cinematic quality with the strings and the vocal chops he uses on the sample. “Adult Swimming”, another track that I would consider my favorite, hooks up some wicked horns and transgresses into a dope guitar sample that keeps ones head noddin’ uncontrollably. Tough Junkie has some interesting sample choices, but I think that makes the album even better. A definite instrumental project to keep on the iPod non-stop.
4. Oddisee - Traveling Man (Cop it Here)
Oddisee came with probably the most original and creative instrumental project of 2010, with Traveling Man. Oddisee takes the sounds that feels like they are from different cities. Now of course I haven’t been to all these places found on the album, in fact, Vegas, Frisco, Long Beach, Inglewood, and Sao Paulo are the only ones I can say I’ve stepped foot in, but the beats seem to fit or even give me a audio visual of each place. My personal favorite might be “Khartoum”, with it’s upbeat and happy vibe, it makes me want to visit the place and I’m not even entirely sure where the hell it’s at.
As I stated earlier this month, Sinitus Tempo was my “Rookie of the Year” for producers. I doubt this was his first year producing, but this was the first year I have heard of him and he had a gang of quality music released, including these two EPs, Awakened Beings and Born Legends. They are both dedicated to anime programs, characters, shows, or something like that, not being big on anime, I don’t really know, but I do know the music is dope. Sinitus is quickly building a signature sound for himself, with a jazzy and some what dark sound, equipped with an abundance of strings that he uses quite well. I look forward to more form this cat in the upcoming year.
6. Cold Legistics - Northern Star (Free Download)
I’m not sure why it took me so long to check out Cold Legistics. I’ve heard the buzz around the name since early 2009, but for some reason, I never got around to checking the music. Shortly after the new year, the album Northern Star dropped to more buzz. Not to be one to miss out on a buzz album two times in a row, especially if it’s a dope instrumental piece, I threw it on the iPod and gave it the “madden test”. If an album can make me stop my game and check out the name of the track, or at the very least, get my head noddin’ while I’m getting my ass kicked online or watching the computer get away with outright cheating, then I know it’s a winner. That’s exactly what Northern Star did for me. In fact after it done playing the first time through, I just started it all over again. There are some interesting samples and sample sources found on this one. It’s got that mellow vibe going for it, but don’t mistake that as boring. As I mentioned, the sounds are all very interesting and keep your attention going. Nice find here, now I have to go back and listen to the stuff from Cold Legistics that I’ve missed.
7. Bugseed – Bohemian Beatnik (Cop It Here)
Even our own Scrunchface Show hips me to new and exciting music. It was on there that I first heard of Bugseed, from Dart I’m assuming. Based on that first show I heard (I missed the first few editions of the show while I was away in South America this past spring/early summer), I downloaded some projects from some of the artists that I heard and liked and Bugseed’s Bohemian Beatnik happened to be one of them. I liked it and gave it a few spins, but then it got lost in the shuffle. Last week as I was going back through some albums to refresh my memory, I threw on Bohemian Beatnik once again and forgot just how good this album is. Tracks like “Stimulated Emissions” is straight up beauty on digital form. With horns blaring and a mello dramatic backdrop, it’s a classic. A lot of piano and horns find their way onto his music, and you’ll find no complaining from me. Japan remains killin’ it.
8. Chanes – DJ House Shoes Presents An Experiment In Sound (Free Download)
Chanes is somewhat of an unheard of commodity out of Detroit. We all know how I feel about Detroit music in general, which is where Chanes is from, but he doesn’t possess that typical bangin’ Detroit sound. Again, it’s more melodic and musical that just straight up bangin’ Detroit drums. The first track, “Lights Off”, is a prime example of this. But don’t slip and think it’s all soft stuff, because then he comes with “Darth Vader”, which sounds like you think it would, loud, menacing and in your face. All in all it’s a very versatile project, and I hope to hear more from this cat.
9. DJ Babu – The Beat Tape Vol 2 (Cop It Here)
DJ Babu returns with the second volume of his The Beat Tape series. Babu is sadly underrated on the hip hop scene as a producer and the project is evidence of that fact. There are some straight up heaters to be found on Volume 2, stuff that would make some sloppy ass emcee sound halfway dope. You’re not going to find anything other than straight up, hardcore, boom bap beats, and that’s the beauty of the project. No slacking really, and it’s something that the aspiring emcee could take a crack at a beat or two and get busy on any number of ditties found on here. Clocking in at a just under 40 beats, with most under two minutes in length, if there is something you’re not feeling, just hit the “next” and there is bound to be something you will be feeling.
10. SlimKat78 – Soundfreakers Vol 1(Free Download)
SlimKat78 is another cat from the DC area that is bringing the area up to par with Detroit in the hottest production areas. SlimKat’s Soundfreakers was a nice quick introduction to the world of SlimKat with short little one minute beats dotted across the album’s landscape, but they all give up the goods and show what he is about. He shows a lot of potential and should give cats a glimpse of what this *ahem* Kat is all about.
Clutchy Hopkins - The Story Teller (Cop Here)
Odin Smith – Inside My Studio (Free download)
Zilla Rocca – Big Stupid Bangers (Free Download)
TzariZM – The Heart Beatz Vol 1 (Listen Here)
Silent Whistle – The EP (Download for Free)
TheAmazNs – The Instrumentals Vol. IV – Down By Law (Free Download)
The Stuyvesants – Brooklyn’s Finest (Cop it Here)
Grip Grand – Broke Beat Vol. 1 (Cop It Here)