When the beat drops we nod our heads automatically
Hoping the movement of motion will shape memories into our minds of how it used to be
Bring the Beat Back is the working title of a book I am currently writing. My name is Laurent Fintoni, I currently reside in London and I’m a writer, music journalist and hip hop enthusiast among other things.
What the hell is this? I only came here for the beats
Glad you asked. This website has two primary purposes:
PS: If you’re still only after the beats than just check the mix.
Can a sound without words say anything? Can it create change or even a revolution?? The lanmind has been deployed.
Mad Mike, 1999
A short history of how the book came about…
If someone had told me five years ago I’d be writing a book about beats and hip hop production I’d have probably been like ‘lolz yeah wotevs’ (or whatever the internet speak of 2007 was, I can’t remember). Seriously though, the road to the book wasn’t straight forward and yet totally makes sense…
2007: A growing sense of frustration with the ‘hype’ around what was then the beginning of the so-called beat scene in Los Angeles and around the world, coupled with ongoing conversations with an old friend – Waxfactor – about the origins, history and idea of a new hip hop production aesthetic and sound that directly fed into the aforementioned hype.
2008: Cover feature for Serie B magazine titled ‘The Return of the Boom Bap’, laying my grievances with the hype and the first outlines of the idea that what we were witnessing was the natural progression of the famed 90s Boom Bap aesthetic that had underpinned most productions coming out of NYC and the East Coast. This was followed by two features on LuckyMe and edIT and The Glitch Mob also for Serie B magazine and republished on Spannered.org. In June that year, before the features are published I also put together a mix called Wonk Fonk, which both poked fun at the emergence of the term wonky to define part of the music that was being grouped under this hype and showcase the music underpinning the idea.
2009: A late night joke with 2tall about making a mix to further articulate the idea, using the music to do the talking (something I’ve had a habit of doing in the past). This joke turns into a year long project which culminates with a 77-minute mix titled ‘A Boom Bap Continuum: a story of a sound aesthetic’. The mix features over 250 tracks mixed and cut up in chronological order and woven with samples from producers talking about their craft and the sound. It does pretty well. This website is born. In the summer I meet Take aka Sweatson Klank for the first time, interviewing him at length about his history and that of L.A’s music scene, in the process I learn about Kutmah, Sketchbook and the formative years of what would become the new L.A hip hop underground. This intrigues me.
2010: Having felt like I laid the idea to rest for now I went about continuing to do what I do, which includes writing about music. The idea continues to germinate at the back of my head especially as the attention and hype around the new school of hip hop beats and producers reaches a bursting point and starts to slowly dissipate into the wider hip hop and music ether.
2011: Sometime around the summer I come across a call for proposals for a series of Sonic Lectures in Berlin. Somehow my brain tells me it could be a good idea to revisit the mix and ideas underpinning it, and present them in a talk format. I start to essentially deconstruct the mix into a 1h30 presentation that is roughly 50/50 talking and audio and also start to do new work, researching and interviewing people to see if I was just crazy or if there was something to my idea. In October that year I do a dry-run of the talk at a London music college. It turns out pretty well (shouts to Henri for the hook up).
2012: From January till July I present the ‘A Boom Bap Continuum’ talk in Berlin, Limerick, Cologne and Bologna. The response is positive, and I continue to try and fine tune and refine the ideas behind the talk and the presentation itself. In Cologne I’m also joined by Take aka Sweatson Klank, who adds some of his own perspective and in private helps me further formulate my ideas behind all this. A lot of people tell me after my talk that I should turn it into a phd of some sort. I can see why they’d think that but I’m really not interested. Instead after the last talk in Bologna I return to a conversation I had with a complete stranger in Berlin before the first official talk. He told me I should write a book. I told him that was a crazy idea. Six months later it doesn’t seem like one anymore. Maybe I can write a book about this whole thing… I spend the rest of the year focusing on that idea, trying to see how I can turn all the existing work into a book, what shape it might take and I begin a series of interviews for the book with a wide range of artists and other people involved in this idea of mine. I also put my research into overdrive. The book starts to take shape. I begin to publish extracts of interviews I’ve conducted, namely with Daddy Kev and Teki Latex of TTC. They both prove to be very popular, making me think that there might be legs in this idea after all. That and the fact that most people I speak to for the book are being very supportive and appreciative of my efforts, realising that they were indeed part of something bigger that has only now started to make more sense as the momentum behind it has slowed down and their innovations or work has become appropriated within the wider context of hip hop and electronic productions and become, in the case of many, classics.
2013: In late January and early February I spend 16 days in L.A for book research and interviews. I come out with 20 interviews, a wealth of history and information, some new friends and a love and appreciation for what that unique city offers creative minds (Eternal shouts to Take for the help). L.A is one of three main cities in the US the book will focus on – the other two are NYC and Detroit. I’d never visited L.A before and swore to myself I wouldn’t write about a city I’d never been to. I now feel confident that L.A is ok to write about. Detroit is next, as well as a return to NYC which I’ve visited a few times. As it turns out later in the year Waajeed agrees to an interview but only if I come to the D because, in his own words, “too many people write about the city but don’t visit”. So looks like I’m not the only one thinking like that. I also spend two months in Japan, conducting interviews most notably with the reclusive Hokkaido-based producer O.N.O. So far I’ve conducted interviews for the book in L.A., Japan, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Berlin. I’ve also by this point visited every city I intend to write about short of one or two. By the summer (which is when I’m writing this) the book is very much a fully realised idea, refined from the original concepts and now set to be a history (note I didn’t use ‘the’) of what I see as a new hip hop production aesthetic, one that began in the 90s and fully came into being in the 00s. The book will focus on the past decade, touching of course on the 90s roots and openly ending in the early 2010s. It’s essentially a history of how we got from Mo’ Wax to Flying Lotus via a ton of other people and music that rarely get discussed or mentioned much anymore. Some you might know, some you might have forgot. It’ll also touch on other important factors (geographical, technological and cultural) and frame the whole thing within the wider context of hip hop culture and history. Last but not least I intend for the book to be about the people who made and participated in the music, it’s their stories I want to tell, not mine. All the things that make music a human endeavour not merely a subject of critical thinking. Because ultimately I believe that the best music books are about people, not music. Call me an idealist. I’m also going broke doing this, but hey some people never learn.
And that’s that, for now. A proper synopsis of the book will appear on this site shortly.
What’s the deal with that URL?
Nice of you to notice. As the site was originally used for the mix, and talks, it had the same name. As it turns out someone already owns the domain name for the book title dot com. That blows, especially as the site doesn’t appear to be online, just owned. So I’ve decided to keep the URL for the moment, especially as the title is still technically a work in progress, though I must admit I really like it. Also I’m really good at the SEO and the Googles and things so I’m not sweating that pesky algorhythm. Yet.