The modern BeatTape has evolved quite a bit since its earliest ancestors. Legendary underground works like Kanyes early BeatTape were meant to attract the ears of rappers, not to be stand alone projects. J. Dilla’s “Donuts” album came around and crushed that expectation, with an instrumental album so ahead of its time it liberated the modern Hip-Hop producer, allowing the beat maker to become the star of the show.
Instrumental albums have long been a part of music history but not until the last decade or so with the popularization of Soundcloud, Bandcamp, & Youtube have instrumental Hip-Hop albums begun to gain traction and popularity. While producers still have a long way to go before fans and artists alike start giving them their due, the snowball has been set into motion. Innovators like Chillhop Music and SteezyAsFuck and Ambition have given beat tapes a platform for fans to find quality instrumental content. As part of our own contribution to the culture we wanted to highlight our 10 favorite BeatTapes and producers that came out this year. So without further adieu I present to you the RH Top 10 BeatTapes of 2017:
10. Tomppabeats – Arcade
Tomppabeats is arguably the king of Lofi Hip-Hop at the moment. Amassing a cult following the Helsinki based producer turns everything he touches into gold. “Arcade” is filled with soulful flips, choppy drums, and clever effects that showcase the brilliance of the Finnish producer. His Bandcamp is filled with gold and his catalogue can stand up to damn near anyone.
9. Bassti – Girl
I first heard of German producer Bassti through his collaborative “Moonlight” EP with singer Melanie Rose. When I came across his “Girl” BeatTape I was amazed. The project embodies the euphoric depth of emotions one feels when they are in love (or at least thinks they are). Serene and calm this project is the definition of Chillhop. The keys on “Vinyl Drop” take the listener to cloud 9, the calm drums pace gently, head nodding music at its finest.
8. Keem The Cipher – Exploration
Keem The Cipher was seemingly everywhere this year. I heard his beats jacked by wack and talented rappers alike, nor can I blame them, as the funk and groove in his drums is undeniable. “Exploration” is a journey into the wide sonic palette of the Chattanooga producer. The melodies vary, never settling on one sound, from the experimental soundscape of “Like You Mean It.” right into the boom bap-esque keys and organ on “Thinkin’ Bout//Franks Theme” to the rumbling bass line and hard hitting drums on “Dizzy!”. The project ebbs and flows into a sonic gumbo.
7. Knight Ali – I Think It’s Raining
An aptly titled project “I Think It’s Raining” is my favorite thing to put on repeat during a chill day spent indoors. The Aussie producer Knight Ali reps the rising Foreknowledge crew and wields an understanding of flipping samples that is second to none. The smooth guitar on “Fireworks” evokes a certain nostalgia not felt enough in modern music. His Soundcloud is filled with gems and is updated on a such a consistent basis one has to wonder where Knight finds the time to make all these high quality tracks.
6. Jinsang – Confessions
Right from the opening strings you know you’re in for a treat with “Confessions”. While a little lengthier than the average BeatTape; the project is perfect for putting on your headphones and focusing on homework or other monotonous tasks. The sound selection in Jinsang’s melodies embody the beauty of life and give the listener a renewed sense of meaning. Other essential listening from Jinsang should include his phenomenal “Solitude” tape.
5. Idealism – Hiraeth
The minimalist aesthetic of Idealism production is perfect for a walk on a cloudy evening or a train ride through the countryside. The Finland based producer embodies the Chillhop/Lofi aesthetic with simple but profound drums, more being done with less, sitting with your own thoughts can be hard with a wall of sound in your ears. “Hiraeth” gives you the opportunity to step back and view the world from a simpler perspective.
4. Odyssee – Mezzanine
A master of the craft Odyssee keeps things moving beautifully on “Mezzanine”. The opening piano on the tape evolves in a complex progression not often heard in Hip-Hop. Not lacking in simplicity though the next track “Those Things” leads with a smooth Jazz guitar that would make George Benson proud. No track sounds alike, the monotony of a loop based genre not felt in “Mezzanine”, an ever colorful kaleidoscope of sound.
3. Mt. Marcy – Sorry
The detuned glory of the intro to “Sorry” shows Mt. Marcy means business. The sparse simplicity of the loops flows one into another like the river to the ocean. The New York producer never sticks on one topic for too long, brushing seemingly insignificant strokes across the canvas, until you step back and see the masterpiece.
2. Mujo – Reincarnation
An absolutely hypnotic Lofi experience Mujo makes hazy early morning/late night music meant for drowsy eyed dreamers. The hi-hats pace the beats giving the mind something to focus on while the kicks pump in to give you that bit of life needed to get through the day. The Hungarian producer knows how to balance the classic Hip-Hop ethos with scratches and chopping while maintaining a contemporary sound.
1. Chillhop Music – Raw Cuts 2
As mentioned before Chillhop Music and their roster of artists is moving producer culture forward one song at a time. The fantastic and eclectic “Raw Cuts 2” is a collection of beats pieced together with the singular theme of head knocking. Some cuts are choppy and experimental, others straightforward and classical, combined you see the vast array of talent united on one project.