Lee Bannon has always been a fascinating figure, consistently willing to reinvent and reject solipsistic limits on personal creation. January’s Alternate/Endings will go down as one of the year’s best albums and a quintessential piece of the ongoing reprisal of breakbeat-focused music. The tragic death of DJ Rashad brought attention to the United States’ myriad collection of jungle, footwork and drum and bass producers, specifically the way they blur and blend together in contemporary dance music. As a former (?) hip hop producer, Bannon understands the mediation between the forms, both past and present, better than most and recently got together with Teklife’s DJ Earl, one of the many promising youngsters in the effervescent global collective. A continuation of Bannon’s obsession with virgules, the result is titled “Deep/Future”, a fission-generated bomb of stomping kicks and belching pseudo-acid bursts. Like much of Bannon’s work, the song feels timeless without retreating into retro-focused malaise and Earl’s willingness to experiment with the TR-303 and left-field vocal manipulation is readily apparent. No clue on where or when this will be released yet, but the description notes “see you this winter” so a new project might be on the not-so-far horizon.
So our favorite DMV badman Fat Trel made a song about his favorite strip club. Apparently he’s not alone either, because the Stadium Club has over 20,000 twitter followers. With Lee Bannon behind the boards, Trel takes the “Bands A Make Her Dance” approach on “Make It Clap” in both subject matter and sonic qualities. This new brand of strip club music is based on a sort of attack and release philosophy, wherein your ratchet rapper of choice says gully, demeaning shit over time-stretched production (not actually time-stretched, but in a hip hop sense). It’s all about building and relieving stress, and while the MC isn’t necessarily expendable, any no fucks given Southern rapper can fit the archetype. That being said, Trel is no slouch on “Make It Clap”, running through regional references as fast as he’s losing bands. So yeah, shouts out to Fat Trel. Shouts out to Lee Bannon. But most of all, shouts out to the Stadium Club. Stream and download below.
It is a rare occurrence when a hip hop producer transforms over night. It is even rarer when a producer who specializes in the boom bap brand of hip hop escapes their comfort zone. Producers like Statik Selektah, 9th Wonder and The Alchemist have made a living producing for the likes of Styles P, Phonte and Skyzoo. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this. Each of the aforementioned producers excel at what they do and consistently keep my head nodding. Regardless, it is an exciting time for music as producers like Clams Casino, Keyboard Kid and Ryan Hemsworth push the boundaries of what constitutes a hip hop beat. Before this morning, I would have lumped Lee Bannon in with the former group of producers. A more than adequate beatsmith who has supplied heat for Planet Asia, Strong Arm Steady, The Jacka and more. I thought of him as a sort of West Coast Statik Selektah. Both utilize brass to its fullest extent and are consistent as hell, but they never make my jaw drop.
That was before I listened to his brand new Caligula Theme Music EP. Abandoning the brass element for which he has become revered in certain certains, the Sacramento-based producer instead opts for lush synth pads, abstract vocal samples and rolling percussion. To be honest, it sounds a lot like Clams Casino. Even the photo at the top of this post feels like it’s straight out of the hype machine. You know what though? I don’t really care. Clams doesn’t own this sound (although he has pioneered it) and blurry pictures are mystifyingly striking. These are hip hop beats at their core, but viewed through a thick layer of pond muck and blunt haze. Clammy Clams better watch out. There’s a new kid in town. You can stream and buy the EP below off of Bannon’s Bandcamp (well worth 3.99) and download the title track over at XLR8R.