Tag Archives: Nosaj Thing

The Best Beat Tapes on Bandcamp


Scroll to the bottom of Bandcamp.com; click on the ‘hip-hop/rap’ tag, then on the ‘beat-tape’ tag. Wade through and see what’s there. Pretty daunting, right? The list you’re about to read is the result of painstaking research from Bandcamp Daily contributors, who took extra steps to find new producers doing amazing things with their music. This isn’t a list of the usual suspects; rather, we wanted to dig deeper to find composers who need a closer look. Without further adieu, here are some of the very best beat tapes on Bandcamp.

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Nosaj Thing Learns to Live in the Now with His New Album “Parallels”

Nosaj Thing

Photos by Emily Berl

Halfway through describing the process behind his new album Parallels, Jason Chung interrupts himself. His dog, a 10-year-old schnauzer, has entered the room, and he lovingly asks her if she’s OK before continuing the conversation. “She was there for the whole album process,” Chung says, before admitting he doesn’t do a ton of interviews. “I wish it was possible to interview her. It would be much more interesting than talking to me.”

It’s not a stretch to note that same quiet humility extends to Chung’s work as Nosaj Thing. He’s a frequent performer at Los Angeles’ Low End Theory—a club night that also proved as a launch pad for Daddy Kev, The Gaslamp Killer, Nobody, and Flying Lotus. But since his 2009 debut Drift, the Nosaj Thing blend of turntablism, ambient, and hip-hop has felt too intimate to be confined to the dancefloor. Yes, he knows beats—when not making his own music, Chung has provided production assists to Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Kid Cudi.

His new album Parallels, teases out the more introspective aspects of his music—washes of synth, spoken word passages served with a heavy helping of reverb, and vocal turns from Steve Spacek, Kazu Makino, and Zuri Marley. It’s a heady blend, one which Chung doesn’t mind calling otherworldly. As it turns out, we could all use a bit of aural escapism.

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Album of the Day: Various Artists, “The Land (Music from the Motion Picture)”

As skater culture has spread from its suburban-Cali pool-carver origins to international inner-city street style, the accompanying soundtrack has shifted along with it. Nowadays, it feels more closely tied to post-backpacker hip-hop than it ever was with the hardcore or crossover thrash of skateboarding in the ’80s. Steven Caple Jr.’s film The Land takes full advantage of this, and not just by its association with executive producer Nas. The soundtrack for the film, in which aspiring young Cleveland skaters’ petty crimes spiral into something more ambitious and dangerous, gives the film’s place in hip-hop a deep focus. The soundtrack isn’t exploitatively star-packed, nor is it overly reliant on trying to break unknown indie favorites. It’s more of a mood-setting companion piece to a film uninterested in easy triumph.

The big names get a decent amount of shine: Machine Gun Kelly, who appears in the film as a convenience store employee, fits the vibe well, even if the hesher-rock simplicity of “Dopeman” won’t win too many skeptical converts in the “real hip-hop” set. And the beatless orchestral moodiness of “This Bitter Land,” a teamup between Nas and Erykah Badu (who has a small role as a sex worker in the film), is an allusive, impressive display of both artists’ respective vocal chops. But even with big-name artists pulling the weight—there’s a Kanye-featuring French Montana cut and a Pusha T/Jeremih collab—it’s the artists closer to the skate-rap underground who make the most of it. Fashawn’s character portrait “Cisco’s Theme,” the chest-collapsing bass panic of Jerreau’s “Looking for Something,” and the Dilla-via-Carpenter drones of Nosaj Thing’s instrumental score come closest to nailing that sense of rootless, teenage dread.

—Nate Patrin