Rap Beats Vol. 1 is as simple an album as its title implies. It contains 23 short, haphazard bits of beats that knock around like change in your pocket for a while, cutting out abruptly and giving way to the next.
Samiyam has a bit of a reputation as “the video game sounds guy”. He says he is partial to “Megaman”. I don’t know about you, but I think that music incorporating video game sounds has been a bit disappointing (I’m looking at you, Beck, circa “The Information”). I have heard a wonderful C. Rayz Walz freestyle over a beat made from the dungeon music from the Legend of Zelda, but that’s about it. I think video game music stands tall in its own right, without adulteration. Really, how can you improve upon the music from Tetris (Please read through this link. You will be amazed by the implications of Tetris- hot damn!)?
Despite the emphasis placed in other reviews of this album on the video game sounds, they are only truly apparent in the opening track, “Super Chronzio Bros. 2”. This is a fun track, which bangs in its own way, but it is only the saccharine precursor to the real work that gets done later on. The next two tracks, “1984” and “27” commence in all their wonky glory. I also recommend “Flotation Device”, “It’s Important”, “Rooftop”, and “Untitles” for their yumminess.
Speaking of yumminess, when listening to this album, think of eating 23 jelly beans, one every minute and a half, each with its own idiosyncratic, enjoyable flavor. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll tell you some other things about listening to this album that you might enjoy.
Have you ever dried you shoes in the clothes dryer before? You get a non-stop clunking that thrills with its musical ingenuity. Have you ever stopped to listen to it and then found yourself contorting yourself to the sheer, unbelievably random funkiness of it? Try it, but be careful. I have obliterated dryers to the point where the dryer finally commits suicide from the unbearable depth of ecstasy, heaving to a stop amid plumes of smoke. You could do that or you could listen to Rap Beats Vol. 1 and produce the same effect.
Watch a child painting sometime without intervening in the event. There is no restriction to it and the pieces stop when they are finished, not a moment too soon or too late. Albums of beats like Rap Beats Vol. 1, or RJD2’s or Onra’s work, necessarily must be like child art in that respect. These pieces are like cross-sections of the brain, if you cut out the parts where a particular thought occurred, and then compress them into a digital format.
It is interesting to listen to this work because you can really see where an MC would fit in on these tracks if you know how a hip hop track is made. Think of it like eggs: beats are the raw embryos of tracks. In order to make an omelet, the producer needs to match the length of the main part of the beat with the lengths of MCs’ verses (usually 16 bars or so), develop a variation for the chorus (or hook), and perhaps toss in a bridge that breaks up the flavors. These beats are not songs; they are raw eggs.
Listening to Samiyam’s beats feels like reading the white spaces in sentences, rather than the printed words. With as much stock placed in the blank spots as the sounds around them, Rap Beats Vol. 1 is a reinvention of absence as much as plenty.