Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obscure Music Spotlight: Why Are All the Best Beats Coming from Overseas?

Who knew Ethiopians listened to Dilla?

So three of my favorite new hip-hop beatmakers are all from outside the States. Harmonic 313 is from Australia, and Ras G and KenLo are from Africa.

One thing they all have in common, though, is a production style with shades of what I would call "the Detroit sound" -- slightly-mechanized, dusty-but-digital, soul-loops-filtered-through-a-Commodore-64 type of vibe. Dilla and Black Milk both have experimented with rolling a tremolo filter off the front- or back-end of samples, creating a sort of natural delay that doesn't lag behind the rest of the melody, and 313, Ras G & KenLo all try their hand at the same sort of thing.

Most of the time, it works very, very well.

KenLo is my Flavor of the Month, no question, though... particularly since you can nab all four of his beat records for free via his MySpace page... but also because he's the most Dillaesque of the three. A lot of his work reminds of the directions Dilla was heading in the period between Common's Water for Chocolate and his own Donuts.

Harmonic 313, in contrast, uses the mechanized sounds that Black Milk mined for Tronic and sends them out into the digital stratosphere, giving a nod to techno, but thankfully not being techno.

Ras G, who I've written about on this blog before, has a sort of muddy, digital-crust soul sound that I suppose I'd identify more with Madlib, but there's a definite abstractness in a lot of his beats that recall Dilla and BM.

The main reason I'm writing this, however, is to encourage you to immediately download all of KenLo's albums and ENJOY. The shit is hot. (the newest one is Craqnuques: Orange)


  1. CHeers for the heads up on theses artists :) Harmonic 313's website is fucken crazy dope! I believe he is from the UK though, not Australia!

  2. I was just working off his MySpace profile, which lists "Sydney, New South Wales, Australia."


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