Tag Archives: beats

Malik Abdul-Rahmaan’s Beat Tapes Are For Crate-Diggers

Malik Abdul Rahmaan


Malik Abdul-Rahmaan
is a truly global citizen. Born in Texas, Abdul-Rahmaan spent his early adult years in the Air Force, stationed in Japan. Frequenting the legendary club Harlem in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, Abdul-Rahmaan found himself immersed in Japan’s rich and energetic hip-hop scene. After cutting his teeth producing soulful, dusty sample-based tracks for various Japanese rap acts, Abdul-Rahmaan returned to the U.S. and continued building up an impressive résumé that includes work with heavyweights like Ghostface Killah and progressive hip-hop label Paxico Records. Inspired by his time abroad, Abdul-Rahmaan conceived the Field Research project, a series of instrumental albums in which he captures the sound and essence of a specific country that he has visited, absorbing the local culture, digging up obscure vinyl and creating a beat tape inspired by each trip. Field Research: Malaysia, the first in the series, is an impressive start to this ambitious project, pulling from steamy Southeast Asian funk, Bollywood-style soundtracks, garage rock obscurities, and more. Abdul-Rahmaan has created a rich and kaleidoscopic listening experience that translates Malaysia’s deep musical traditions into cutting-edge future beats while still honoring the original source material.

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David Harrow Lived Through Punk, Post-Punk, New Wave, Industrial, and Dub Reggae but Isn’t Stopping Anytime Soon

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Adopted Los Angeleno David Harrow has been around the block a few times, but his passion for new possibilities in electronic music shows no sign of dimming. Under his prolific Oicho guise, he’s explored deep dub reggae roots, with a futurist sheen. But the latest Oicho tracks have moved further from reggae tonality and into more abstracted, ritualistic experiments with percussion and space that put him closest to bass music mavericks like Shackleton and Kode 9. All of this, though, is informed by a musical history that stretches back over three decades, and has been colorful, to say the very least.

While still in his teens, at the end of the ‘70s, the east Londoner got swept up in punk and post-punk, playing keyboards with the likes of Genesis P-Orridge’s Psychic TV, Jah Wobble and new wave poet Anne Clark. Always footloose, he spent time in Berlin—in the orbit of industrial godfathers Einstürzende Neubauten—and San Francisco, where he became a house keyboardist/producer for Razormaid Records, including on records by disco icon Sylvester. Later, back in the UK, he fell in with the On-U Sound collective around Adrian Sherwood, regularly working in the studio and on stage worldwide with Lee “Scratch” Perry, Mark Stewart, Bim Sherman and many more. Their work ethic was boggling, their output was stupendous in its volume and influence, but the collective was also chaotic and as dedicated to living on the edge as to sonic innovation.

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DIY in The River City: Richmond’s Thriving Underground Hip-hop Scene

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Sitting almost perfectly in the center of Virginia, Richmond is a city of dual identities. On one side, it is home to a host of Fortune 500 companies; on the other, more than 25 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. Known as ‘The River City,’ the music of Richmond has a similar duality. Home to influential rapper Mad Skillz and the source of whatever divine supernatural forces brought D’Angelo into this world, the city also gave us Lamb of God and cosplay-chic shock rockers GWAR. With a population of just over 200,000, Richmond punches far beyond its musical weight. But in hip-hop circles, the city is largely ignored. Still, as MCs like Fly Anakin and the André 3000-heralded Divine Council rep the RVA, behind the scenes, a new generation of genre-spanning producers are slowly amassing a humbling body of work. “In Richmond, it’s all about a group of people and how hard their talent is,” says Tuamie, a musician and Richmond native now living in Georgia. “That’s what kept me creating while I was there, and what keeps me doing it when I’m not. Richmond will never stop, that’s a guarantee.”

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Album of the Day: Karriem Riggins, “Headnod Suite”

It’s a fair assumption that Karriem Riggins never stops working—for that matter, he may never sleep. The 41-year-old Detroit native has been on a tear since his 2012 debut, Alone/Together, but he’s been making music for much longer than that. Just a quick look at his credits might leave you feeling overwhelmed. His collaborators have included everyone from the late J Dilla to Daft Punk and Paul McCartney, and they’re not even part of his absolutely massive workload in 2016, when he earned credits on some of the year’s biggest records—Kaytranada’s 99.9% and Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution—while also producing an entire album for rapper Common.

And yet, in the midst of all that, Riggins somehow found the time to craft Headnod Suite, the follow-up to Alone/Together. It’s just as sprawling in scope as its predecessor—29 tracks to A/T’s 34—and equally ambitious, with a majority of its songs hovering around or below the two-minute mark. As a result, Headnod Suite treads that line of being not quite a beat tape, and not quite a jazz album. It instead lives somewhere in between. It’s a realm reserved for producers like Riggins and his contemporaries. They’re constantly searching for the next sample to chop, the right drum beat, the perfect bassline. And in doing so, Riggins has crafted vignettes (the Common-sampling “Keep It On,” and Dilla-referencing “Never Come Close”) and fully-realized moments (the moving “Suite Poetry” featuring poet Jessica Care Moore, and video game-blazed “Crystal Stairs”).

Projects like these—meaning, those in the key of Donuts—are carefree and hectic listens, delivering a barrage of sounds that dissipate as quickly as they appear. But that’s part of the fun, challenging your brain to fight against using an album like Headnod Suite as mere background music. Simply put: you’re going to pay attention, whether it’s because of Moore’s beautiful turn on “Suite Poetry,” or Riggins linking with bassist Derrick Hodge and keyboardist James Poyser (of the Roots) for “Suite Outro.” The album may fade out with those three jamming away, perhaps teasing some kind of proper collaborative record, but it also pulls you back in, begging you to keep nodding along.

Andrew Martin

On “Jardín,” Gabriel Garzón-Montano Puts Himself Front and Center

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Gabriel Garzón-Montano by Joe Hollier

It’s hard to tell where Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s studio ends and his bedroom begins. There’s a fully-assembled drum set nestled in the bottom of the singer/producer/instrumentalist’s closet. An array of synthesizers, keyboards, and speakers occupy most all of his desk space. And, behind the door, looming over the room, are a stack of black crates filled with exotic percussive instruments—from the tiny Brazilian tambourine that graced “Keep on Running” to the Tibetan bells that open “Fruitflies,” a track from his upcoming LP Jardín. In an age of sample-pack and VST-based musicians, the presence of so many tangible analog instruments is refreshing. Of course, there’s a laptop too; it sits atop a vintage Oberheim synth on his desk. But, it’s clear that when Garzón-Montano says he plays everything in most of his songs, he really plays everything.

The walls of Garzón-Montano’s bedroom studio are adorned with a similar blend of music and personal mementos. Most notably, amid the concert flyers, vinyl LPs, and pictures of his idols (including an ornately-framed pencil drawing of Lil Wayne), are portraits of his parents. His French mother’s knowledge of classical harmony and Colombian father’s love of cumbia rhythms pulse through his music. In the end, Jardín’s 10 tracks of genre-bending soul play much like his room looks—the work of a man with as many talents as sources of inspiration.

Ironically, working from home is difficult for Garzón-Montano. “It’s something I’ve resented.” he says as we discuss the years he’s spent writing Jardín in his room, “I’ve loved going to studios or leaving my place to work.” It’s hard to imagine he’ll be spending much time at home in the upcoming months. Bishouné: Alma del Huila, Gabriel’s first EP, sent him on a world tour opening for Lenny Kravitz, then to California to sign with Stones Throw Records. Jardín is set to propel him even further. The question is no longer how far, but how high?

In the days before his debut LP’s release, we talked with Garzon-Montano about how Jardín came together, and his efforts to grow as a performer.

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