VA: Beat Dimensions Vol. 1
Rush Hour

Hundreds of hip-hop beatmakers dot the global landscape in these post-J Dilla days and Amsterdam-based Rush Hour's assembled twenty-three of'em into one seriously smoked ‘beatstrumentals' package. Established names like J Todd (Innerstance.Beatbox) and up-and-comers located in Brooklyn, Tokyo, Milwaukee, London, Munich, Switzerland, Paris, and Sydney rub shoulders in the eighty-minute set compiled by Jay Scarlett (Spacek Soundsystem) and Cinnaman (Rush Hour Records). The modest representation of US producers (J Todd, Pursuit Grooves, Flyamsam) compared to the six from the Netherlands is explained by Rush Hour being Amsterdam-based.

Egged on by handclaps, thudding kick drums, serpentine hi-hats, biting snares, and sputtering bass and synth lines, beats lurch and stumble throughout in that delectable off-kilter, future-funk style perfected by producers like Madlib, DJ Premier, and Dabrye. Echoes of other artists' work surfaces now and then too: listeners familiar with Eliot Lipp's “Rap Tight” will hear traces of it in Mike Tibbert's cut, and O.Boogie does little to hide his track's plunder of Jaco Pastorius's “River People” from Weather Report's Mr. Gone.

A few observations: the relative unanimity of the material initially surprises, especially when the artists are so widely dispersed, but internet immediacy, having long ago collapsed that barrier, has facilitated rapidly the emergence of that shared vision. And Dilla's passing is also a factor, as the producers here are both eager to pay tribute and perpetuate his legacy with their own efforts. Artists like Tom Trago, Aardvarck (Amsterdam), Morgan Spacek (London), and Black Pocket (aka Steve Spacek) clearly show they've learned from past masters and are up to the challenge of pushing the music forward.

June 2007