I don’t think I need to specify how important a beat is in Hip Hop. The way I see it, there are two kinds of genius in a Hip Hop song: Lyricists and Beat-Makers. It’s kind of like peanut butter and jam; if you’re doing it right, you really shouldn’t have one without the other. If you don’t know what I mean by ‘beat’, I am referring to the instrumental that rappers shape their verses around, the component that separates rap from spoken word poetry. We can talk lyrics another time, because today is a beat kind of day.
Hoover Street – Schoolboy Q
One of Oxymoron’s absolute gems, the Hoover Street instrumental, is like an incredibly pleasant lobotomy. It starts off erratic - very erratic - almost to the point where it makes you sweat like R Kelly at a high school ball. After a 90-second build up it drops into gear and absorbs you. One of Sounwaves finest productions in my opinion; loaded to the teeth with deep synth and grit, this beat throws you right back to his childhood when his grandmother let him play with her gun (no joke). Truly captivating and truly thuggish, I’d suggest listening to this in the safety of your own home.
Goldie – A$AP Rocky
This list would be incomplete without a Hit-Boy beat on it, and Goldie is easily one of his best. The funny thing is that the beat was originally intended for Jay-Z, but in my opinion, Rocky owns it. For lack of a better word, this beat is ‘gangster’. I feel like it’s something I should listen to on my way to buy Hennessey for my hip flask and jewellery for my teeth.Granted,I would look ridiculous as an Irish guy with 0.5% body fat and no muscle but hey, A$AP made me do it!
m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar
Sounwave and Terrace Martin team up to bring you an absolute banger of a beat. Seriously, if you’re drunk in a club and you don't move like you’re at Tomorrowland to this then you should be at home with a cup of green tea because your priorities are all mixed up. A powerful, based ‘YAWK, YAWK’ drop should be enough to get anyone’s fingers tingling. The beat switches up after 3 minutes and it’s still a complete powerhouse. It’s got to be good to stand out on an album like good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Black Skinhead – Kanye West
As soon as I saw that Daft Punk produced this beat with Kanye, I knew it would be good (mainly because I’m a massive Daft Punk fan boy), and it was, but it was not what I expected at all (perhaps we can thank co-producers Gesaffelstein for that). I I felt like going outside, building a big bonfire, and then dancing around it in a loincloth. Don’t lie to yourselves; I know you felt it too. It’s rebellious, it’s tribal and it is exactly what the hip-hop world needed. It stirred shit up, changed the game and produced a ripper of a tune if I’ve ever heard one. Well played Kanye.
Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 – Drake
I was on the ‘I hate Drake’ bandwagon as much as the next person until I listened to this album. I can’t deny that the beats on this album (and the rest of his albums, I guess) are brilliant, this one in particular. I never anticipated Wu-Tang Clan and Ellie Goulding samples together in one song; I was even more surprised when it worked. I reluctantly nodded along to this beat when I first heard it, and the more I listened, the less reluctant the nodding became. Credit has to go to Boi-1da, Matthew Burnett and Jordan Evans. What a beat.
This list is in random order and barely even scratches the surface of the hip-hop I like, but I figured we should get familiar before we get freaky. Seriously though, these beats are dope and if you haven’t listened to them before stop what you’re doing and listen to them, I don’t care if you’re watching T.V. or committing a felony, everyone should hear these beats.