Rory's so ignorant of hip-hop he can't make a pithy joke here
April 21, 2010 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Help me find exciting hip-hop/rave music.

I know next to nothing about hip-hop. Ditto the various kinds of dance music that get played at raves (jungle and the like). I want to get myself interested in both kinds, but I know so little about either that I don't know where to start.

So I'm looking for music of either genre — but I'm not invested enough in either genre to really care about the classics, or about historic albums. Right now I want stuff that'll get me involved viscerally.

I listen to DJ Shadow, for instance; while I love Endtroducing, it's melancholy and takes its time and isn't what I'm looking for. On the other hand, I recently got Buraka Som Sistema's album Black Diamond and loved it. Interesting rhythms, tied in with interesting sounds... It was almost exactly the kind of music I was looking for. On the other hand, I've heard it referred to as a somewhat derivative sound, so I guess there's other music I haven't heard of that sounds the same but is even better? I'm hoping there is, anyway.

I've got a real taste for the weird, as long as the weirdness doesn't get in the way of catchiness or vigor. I love Venetian Snares, though I guess he's closer to electronica. I loved how he sampled classical music to create wholly new pieces, and even added his own performances into the song. (I enjoy him more than I like, say, Aphex Twin, whose music never struck me as quite so interesting.)

Hopefully you're reading this right now and going "I know EXACTLY what kind of music Rory's looking for." Because to be honest I've got no clue. I know literally nothing about either branch of music. Help me!
posted by Rory Marinich to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Have you heard the Grey Album? Everyone likes to act like they are too cool for the Grey Album, but I have no idea why. It's like trying to act like you're too cool to enjoy oral sex or pizza; I have no doubt that you could be that cool, but why would you want to be?
posted by surenoproblem at 5:36 AM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

You can try other artists in the Venetian Snares area: Nymphomatriarch (Venetian Snares and Hecate making music out of their sex noises), Doormouse, Squarepusher, Enduser, Larvae, anything else on the Ad Noiseam, Hymen, Hive, or Ant-Zen labels.

It helps to know which Aphex Twin music you dislike as his output is really quite varied over the years.

If you like Buraka Som Sistema you may like other Kuduro artists.

Maybe you'd like dubstep too. Burial, Flying Lotus, and Scuba are my favorites, and the Echodub label has a couple free compilations out.

Oh, and this Mos Def mashup album is awesome.
posted by mkb at 5:43 AM on April 21, 2010

Response by poster: Surenoproblem: I'm liking this. Thanks!

mkb: I gave Squarepusher a try a while ago. I remember I liked him, but nothing stood out. I'll give him another go.

Burial's in the same category as DJ Shadow for me: I like his music, but his is definitely less energetic than what I'm looking for right now.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:48 AM on April 21, 2010

Anti-Pop Consortium (spec. Tragic Epilogue and Arrhythmia) got me into hip-hop. They rock a great combination between IDM/electronica beats and and abstract lyrics.

Even if you don't (think you) care about classics, NWA's Straight Outta Compton is one of those albums everyone needs to listen to on principle alone. And, lucky for you, it is pretty goddamn visceral if you can get past the minimalist beats.
posted by griphus at 6:16 AM on April 21, 2010

If you like Venetian Snares, I can't imagine hard drum and bass will be too much for you. I've really been digging Flame's Mechabyte Podcast recently -- crazy hard Russian + Eastern Europe DnB. I think he's put out six episodes so far. Easy to find the other episodes on that linked site, just search 'Mechabyte'.

Check out the recent Noisia Essential Mix (google it, I think you can stream it, you can certainly download it from somewhere), it was quite good, and really all over the place stylistically -- sounds up your alley.

Of course, also, listen to every other Essential Mix ever. For serious. (I'm assuming you already got the Buraka Som Sistema EM?)
posted by wrok at 6:23 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could check out some Hip-Hop History mixes from The Rub. These are great. This thread covers rap history well, too. For some weird, track down Dr. Octagon, aka Kool Keith. Do you like the Beastie Boys? The suggestion of the Grey Album above makes me feel like it's okay to suggest one of the stranger, but cooler, mashup albums I've heard: Miles Davis vs. Beastie Boys Miles Away From The Five Boroughs.
posted by knile at 6:32 AM on April 21, 2010

Check out Skream. His essential mix was pretty solid, too.
posted by milarepa at 6:32 AM on April 21, 2010

As for hip-hop, The Clipse/Re-Up Gang are on the short list of artists that haven't been trying to drive nails into the coffin of hip-hop over the past decade. Hard to recommend, as it's not hugely accessible party rap or anything... but it's damn good and some of the only newish rap that's listenable.

Anything Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon/Mr. Nogatco is a fantastic and surreal trip.

Stupid list part, required hip-hop listening: Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem, Royce Da 59, Black Milk, Gang Starr + Anything DJ Premier has touched, Hi-Tek
posted by wrok at 6:40 AM on April 21, 2010

Have you looked at Nerdcore HipHop? There's a lot of crap out there (Sturgeon's Law) but some real gems as well. MC Frontalot and Optimus Rhyme are personal favorites. Hipster, Please! has a bunch of free compilations (which usually include other nerdy music styles as well.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:07 AM on April 21, 2010

Evol Intent.
posted by Jairus at 8:41 AM on April 21, 2010

...this is the Evol Intent link I meant to make, but either is good!
posted by Jairus at 8:47 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I started out listening to trip-hop and gradually got into hip-hop with Del the Funkee Homosapien, Wu-Tang and the Grey Album, but ultimately came to love MF DOOM.
I highly recommend Madvillian's Madvilliany. It is a collaboration with DOOM and Madlib, and it is quite exquisite. If you like that, move on to MM Food and Vaudeville Villain.

Also check out Lovage's "Music to Make Love To Your Old Lady By"
posted by ijoyner at 8:58 AM on April 21, 2010

Seconding Madvillain. Also, Deltron 3030 (Del the Funky Homosapien + Dan the Automator + Kid Koala).

Make a Pandora station of one of these, then if you like something else that comes up, turn it into a new station. With a bit of time you should have plenty of music you like.
posted by domnit at 9:19 AM on April 21, 2010

For hip-hop, anything on the label Stones Throw Records, especially Madlib, MF Doom and all related projects. Peanut Butter Wolf runs the label and also is insanely awesome.

For hard drum 'n' bass-related stuff with hip-hop influences and a lot of energy and aggression, check out the label Ohm Resistance.

For less extreme drum 'n' bass, there's always stuff like Roni Size and Goldie. Also check out the genre of "funky breaks," which has a similar vibe to what you're looking for but is less complex and more dance floor-friendly than drum 'n' bass. My favorites in this genre are DJ Icey and Simply Jeff, both of whom have profesionally produced mix CDs available on Amazon.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:36 AM on April 21, 2010

When it comes to dance music, especially British dance music, you should group things by record labels rather than artists. So many seminal tracks were one offs. Warp Records is the biggie, but also check out Cup of Tea, FFRR, Wall of Sound and Metalheadz. I'm copying an old answer of mine from this thread and there's a lot of other good recommendations in there for techno/rave/etc.
posted by Kattullus at 9:38 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you like the weirder, darker stuff, Ad Noiseam might be another label to check out, and you might also like End.user.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:41 AM on April 21, 2010

Kattullus is absolutely right about checking things out by record label as opposed to individual artist. And here's another one that I just thought of but no one has mentioned yet: Ninja Tune.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:51 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

A perfect combination of what you are looking for would be a producer called Mr. Scruff, particularly his first few albums, Keep it Unreal and Trouser Jazz. Seconding the rest of the Ninja Tune label could be good to check out too. Seconding Warp Records, since you mentioned an interest in Aphex Twin and weird stuff.

A great way to keep up on electronic dance music of all kinds is the Resident Advisor web site and accompanying weekly podcasts, which feature a DJ mix from up and coming as well as established DJs and producers from all subgenres...some weeks you will hate it or find it boring, others you will really like it and will turn you on to tons of new artists. Resident Advisor is also the best place to read about new releases and DJ interviews etc.

An even better way (if you don't mind spending some $) is to look into the Fabric Live CD series, which is a similar concept. You'll notice Buraka Som Sistema has released an installment, FabricLive 49. Others you might like in the series: A-Trak, Yoda, Krafty Kuts, Spank Rock and Diplo.
posted by the foreground at 12:47 PM on April 21, 2010

Here's another record label to check out in addition to the ones mentioned above: Quannum Projects. If you want an album suggestion, track down this one.
posted by threetoed at 2:37 PM on April 21, 2010

Sounds like you would enjoy dubstep... maybe Benga and Skream together?

I like Black Sun Empire myself, but it's a bit techy dnb. That said, it's the opposite of slow/lethargic but nice breakdowns.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:43 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and check out skweee, and especially Eero Johannes.

Another similar, non-skweee artist, is Hudson Mohawke.
posted by Kattullus at 4:59 AM on April 22, 2010

Here are some DJs/artists who mix hip hop and electronic music:

Major Lazer (Switch and Diplo)
Flying Lotus (may be too slow for you)
Zomby (rave dubstep)

and then as others have suggested, the Dubstep genre is mixing a number of these elements. The big names right now are Skream, Rusko, Burial, and Caspa, and I'm sure there are a few more.
posted by hazyspring at 3:32 PM on April 22, 2010

I'm glad to see the visceral and futuristic Noisia mentioned here, and you should definintely take wrok's advice and check out their Essential Mix. You may also want to check out some of their other mixes. Also check out their collaboration with the aforementioned Black Sun Empire.

Similar artists:
TeeBee (This is one of my favorite mixes ever.)
The Upbeats

some DnB labels to check out:
Ram Records
Moving Shadow

Don't let Burial scare you away from dubstep. He's brilliant, but chilled out. There have been lots of good suggestions here for more visceral sounding dubstep, and I would add the Hollow Point Recordings podcast as a place to hear and learn more.

Not strictly dubsteb (in fact I'm not sure how to categorize it,) but this mix from Philadelphia based DJ Starkey always gets my feet moving.

On the Venetian Snares/Squarepusher tip, you may like:
Fanu: Complex and chaotic drum programming, but not as glitchy.
Tim Exile: His first full-length album, Pro Agonist might fit the bill.
Since then he's focused more on creating and exploiting interfaces for live performances; which, while awesome, isn't what I would describe as visceral.

Hope that helps.
posted by Uncle Ira at 9:24 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Over the past five-odd years, mixtapes have become much more of a thing in hip-hop; folk put them out at preposterous rates. DatPiff collects a whole bunch of 'em. I don't follow it too closely, but one that I've been liking recently is Pill's 4180 from last year (have a listen to Trap Goin Ham on YT).

Also something that might be of interest is chopped + screwed music, which is basically taking a track, slowing it down (screwing) and adding double-time bits and pieces (chopping). It's named after DJ Screw, who developed it in Houston in the early\mid 90s after accidentally playing a 45 at 33, or so the story goes. It was originally very much an Htown thing, but now you get it pretty much all over the South. Here's a classic Htown track C+S'd.

As for rave &c, I had a post up a while ago on the blue about some UK dance music from the past couple of years which might be helpful. If you liked kuduro, you might like baile funk (or just baile) fae Rio, which is similar in terms of old drum machines + samples + shouting in Portuguese. Here and here are a couple of baile vids on YT.
posted by Dim Siawns at 1:24 AM on April 23, 2010

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