I'm more of an East Coast guy than a West Coast guy. I want loopy, hypnotic, sample-based production that brings the boom-bap. Clipped samples, crackling vinyl, nimble MPC drumwork, bits of disembodied jazz. Stuff you can blaze a tree and nod your head to.
See below for examples. The sound I dig seems to have been biggest in the 1990s (although anything is fair game for the purposes of this question). I guess you'd call it classic hip-hop, but more modern and lyrically complex than KRS One or Eric B. and Rakim. I never got into Wu-Tang, and "alternative hip-hop" (Dr. Octagon, MF Doom, Deltron 3030) doesn't do it for me, either. I can take or leave "conscious" stuff like The Roots and Talib Kweli, but it's not really my thing. I really
can't stand the Def Jux sound. Not really interested in turntablism.
What I'm after is more straight-ahead underground hip-hop: a sampler, two turntables, a microphone, and the truth.
Let's get the stuff I don't
out of the way first, since it rules out a lot:
I'm profoundly uninterested in hearing about the MC's vast (and likely imaginary) stockpiles of money and guns.
Also uninterested in misogyny and homophobia. I mean, I guess I can ignore the odd line or two, but I'd rather not have to.
Not interested in tales of high-rollin' at the VIP club.
Shouty crunk stuff can fuck right off.
Have I mentioned that I really can't stand the Def Jux type stuff? I can't. The MC should be part of the rhythm section, not someone who's just talking in the same room as a beat and dropping Deleuze references to impress college kids.
What I am
interested in is deft, acrobatic wordplay. Maybe a few different MCs who trade off on verses. Playful, slangy, sly. Again, examples are below.
Examples of stuff I like:
The first four or five are the best examples of the production style I'm after.
Black Moon—How Many Emcees
(I love the production on this one)
Binary Star—Honest Expression
Styles of Beyond—Marco Polo
(I like this whole album)
(I like much of this album, but more for the production than the flow)
Gang Starr—Mass Appeal
(and You Know My Steez
—I like DJ Premier in general)
(an outlier, but I love the positive, sunny feel)
DJ Spooky, DJ Grazzhoppa, Bill Laswell—Oscillations (Milky Remix)