While preparing the talks based on A Boom Bap Continuum I realised that I needed a way to end each talk, to look to the future in a sense. When we made the mix a big part of it was trying to encompass what we say as ten years of beats and by itself that idea had a beginning, middle and end, so we didn’t need to think about ‘what happens next?’. The talk is different and an interesting part of the process for me is looking at what happens now, what’s been happening since 09 when the mix ends and where does it all go from here? Where does this idea of boom bap’s evolution go next?

The first thing that came up was a realisation – which we also had with the mix – that after 2008 the whole beats and boom bap evolution really hit a glass ceiling. By then the idea of a template, of a format to how this new school of hip hop should sound had cemented and with that comes an inevitable stagnation as everyone focuses on doing what the leading lights did before. Cue Flying Lotus, Samiyam and Hud Mo clones.

That’s one element though. It doesn’t mean there haven’t been any good beats since – far from it – just a lot less than in the previous years and certainly less than when there was no set idea for what beats could be and when experimentation is the default behaviour. So I got to thinking about what still excited me about beats and about boom bap in recent years. And what I realised was that some of the most exciting things for me today are rappers rhyming over beats from this new school. People like Blu, Danny Brown, Nocando, Busdriver and Shabazz Palaces to name those that made the biggest impact on me. 2011 was a particularly good year on that front with all the aforementioned rappers dropping albums that made use of productions that quite clearly are rooted in boom bap’s evolution and have a sound that is undeniably ‘now’. Blu rapped over productions from Fly Lo and Samiyam, Nocando and Busdriver had beats from Nobody, Dibiase, Nosaj Thing and Danny Brown tapped up people like Paul White and Houseshoes.

So, ironically, we’ve gone back full circle once more. The producers have had their time in the limelight and now the rappers are coming back and things are starting to get exciting again. Boom bap, beats are no longer stuck in a 90s template based on Premier’s finest moments and instead we have refined sonic landscapes that draw from hip hop’s classic aesthetic and reference modern influences with rappers delivering everything from gutter level raps to metaphor-heavy mental pictures.

All of which is a long winded way of introducing this excellent article on the making of Danny Brown’s 2011 free album XXX. Posted over at Passion of the Weiss it’s a run down of the albums tracks with Danny and the producers. Satisfyingly for me, it makes a lot of allusions and references to the conclusion I came to regarding rappers and new school boom bap and the ideas I’ve tried to articulate with the mix.

It’s a lengthy but worthy read. And you should download the album if you haven’t yet, it’s amazing.

Step inside the mind of Danny Brown – Passion of the Weiss

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