Instead of giving you a speech like, “2011 was a great year for…,”
I’ll spare you the formality. (For real tho? This was a great year for beat tapes.) I’ll just get to the meat and potatoes of my criteria for choosing 2011’s TOP TEN BEAT TAPES:
[1.] The beat tapes have to be ‘free’. Note: All beat tapes can be downloaded by clicking on their respective album covers.
[2.] There has to be no vocal accompaniment—unless they’re samples or there is some sort of manipulation.
[3.] Some type of hip-hop influence (if not, some type of beat driven genre.)
[4.] They have to be dope.
I hope you enjoy!
10. Freddie Joachim – Dusted
Freddie Joachim’s Dusted clocks in at about 13 minutes of music, but it’s good. The tape dropped in May and it’s soulful. From the stuttering samples, shouting vocals to the booming percussion this tape just oozes phenomenal boom bap.
9. K-Lash – Solar Bump
How could this release be number nine? “I’ve never even heard of K-Lash!?” Until this year, neither had I. But, what makes Solar Bump a top beat tape of 2011 is the unique brand of glitch-hop that employs 8-bit sounds and electronic influence. The beauty of this tape isn’t in all its bells and whistles (it’s pretty straight-forward, honestly), but its attention to the malfunction—proper distortion, crashes and skips. I never thought my Walkman’s annoying CD skips would become a popular technique for beat tapes, but in 2011 it has.
8. (Dose) – Moments
Moments is a beat tape by its formula: loud knocking bass, trailing hi-hats. The whole of the EP relies on its airiness—how much space can the percussion and samples take up? A lot. Dose takes on ’90s samples from Sinead O’Connor to some terrible boy band hits to make beats that shine. This tape is nice.
7. Beat Culture – Goldenbacked Weaver
What’s most impressive about this July 2011 release is that it was done by a 16 year-old. You might have been hit over the head with that info about a billion times by now, but it still doesn’t diminish the fact that these beats are crazy good. Goldenbacked Weaver is ten tracks of up tempo, action-packed beats that never slow down.
6. Slow Magic – ▲
I know, I know…it’s only three tracks long. Seth, that’s not a beat tape! It’s not even really hip-hop related! Okay, it’s chillwave/shoe gazer/electronic beats, my bad. Sure, it’s more of a sampler of what’s to come than a full length beat tape. But, these three tracks are lush, beautiful and another staple of what 2011 has offered. From artists like Giraffage, Sun Glitters to a bazillion other copy cats this music is here to stay. Plus, you can’t see someone like Kid Cudi trying to spit over this?
5. Nefarious! – II
Nefarious!—a.k.a. The Soul Dojo—delivers the goods with II. The tape plays with grace like Barry Sanders. It zig-zags *wink* and slips through your speakers like smoke. “You & II” employs this gorgeous panning piano and the beat keeps pace. Lots of ambiance, snapping snares and expansive pads make this a top tape of 2011.
4. Amp Live – You Are Not Human (The Love EP)
You must know who Amp Live is, right? He’s the other half of Zion I; the California duo who’ve been putting out killer music since 1997. Or, maybe you know him as a producer who has worked with Del tha Funkee Homosapien on “Video Tapez“. If you’ve somehow never encountered an Amp Live beat, prepare for a wonderful introduction to his sound. If you have, welcome back, I think you’ll enjoy You Are Not Human (The Love EP). “Playing With My Tremelo” is a startling jazzy production. It glitches, it’s lost in another world where jazz and meteorites collide. What a beautiful track, seriously. From the synths that seem to power up, clink on, to the electro piano that calms before going into hyper-speed, it’s truly gorgeous. [via] <—
It’s cool, I wrote it.
3. Trebles and Blues – The Blue Note
On March 1, 2011 Trebles and Blues brought us his debut album The Blue Note. The title I’m sure alludes to the famous jazz club of the same name. This beat tape has all those funky, soulful samples that’ll make you think it’s 1974 again. You’ll look around the room and see your mom in bell bottoms—your dad with long hair and a mustache. “Ehh, at least the music was good back then….” This tape is solid, man.
2. B. Lewis – Science Within Reason
Science Within Reason is a humongous 30 tracks in length and easily one of the most ambitious projects of 2011. B. Lewis often bridges the gap between electronic arts to boombastic hip-hop joints in this release. Tracks like “Without My Gun” are synth heavy with shakers, 808s and without heartbreaks, because this album aims to please the audiophiles among you.
1. Clams Casino – Instrumental Mixtape
2011 was Clams Casinos year! These beats are beautiful, complex and he gave ‘em away for free. The 23 year-old from New Jersey grew in popularity
thanks to due to Lil B’s emergence. Since then he’s produced for Havoc of Mobb Deep, Main Attrakionz, Soulja Boy (I know, I know…) and several other up-and-coming artists. The percussion either builds up like a stampede of buffalo or it smacks you in the face. Either way, it compliments the waves of sound—pads, horns, distant leads and airy vocal samples. Twelve tracks of goodness and a fantastic release from a producer I’m sure we’ll hear a lot about in 2012.
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