Instrumental in My Life

10/14/2011 § 6 Comments

Hip Hop Instrumentals have become a staple in my listening rotation.

[hip hop instrumentals mixed by DJ Charlie; Download arrow on right]

There is a clear difference between a typical rap song minus the vocals, which would be a hip hop instrumental version, and a hip hop instrumental song. It really depends on the original song, though, because some rap songs are arranged well. They sound alive. Others are just loops, and that gets old when there’s no arrangment, no variation.

Many would say J Dilla is the king of the hip hop instrumental. I don’t listen to enough Dilla to know but, interestingly enough, there are many bands and orchestras already redoing his tunes really well.

Some of the most celebrated hip hop instrumentals don’t even have basslines. On the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards, Eminem and his latest Shady Records signees Yelawolf and Slaughterhouse freestyled over East Flatbush Project’s classic “Tried by 12” instrumental — no bassline. Also classic, the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” has no bassline.

On a related note, some of the best rap songs ever — including my personal favorite, Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid In Full” — don’t really have a hook or chorus. In my opinion, the hook on “Paid In Full” is the bassline, adapted from Temptation-turnt-soloist Dennis Edwards’ record “Don’t Look Any Further”. No hook, no lyrics, no bassline, ok fine, but when I say hip hop instrumental…

Now you have artists like NickNack, Apollo Brown, Oddisee (and way too many to list) who never had anyone rapping on the record to begin with. I would argue that DJ Quik perfected this style of record. But it’s also hard to differentiate between a hip hop instrumental record and a funk record. Or even a funky r-and-b record with zero, or just a few, lyrics. Even Marvin Gaye has several great ones by that definition.


When I’m not jamming the real hov Beethoven or Lisa McClendon channels on Pandora, I’m usually on “Hip Hop Instrumentals”. At least half of what I hear is perfect for my taste as a well-rounded listener who doesn’t like my music too-too robotic. For the record, they play some nice Dilla joints on there, too.

Thoughts? Recommendations?


Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

§ 6 Responses to Instrumental in My Life

  • ghettomanga says:

    I hear you on the murkiness of the term “hip hop” when there is no rapping. I always lean on the cultural aspect of hip hop as opposed to using the term as just a genre, because (at least for the laymen) genre labels have little value outside of marketing differentiation. When I was a kid, it was assumed that one would outgrow hiphop, as it was just “trendy music for rebellious teens”, most grown hip hoppers turned to R n B or “Jazz” (another throw-away term for instrumental or experimental black music). Now there is more grown-up rapping going on so that assumption has lessened.

    To your question, MF DOOM makes great instrumental records. Sometimes his records have the instrumentals after the album.

    Sivion’s most recent record “Butterfly Sessions” follows that format. It’s 14 tracks long (7 songs followed by the instrumentals). The beats are by a dude named Dert, who is worth googling, I think.

    I can think of two “beat tapes” by guys I like (both emcee/producers who like Sivion are DFW-based members of the Christian rap massive Deepspace 5).

    The first is “Who’s Harry Krum” by Playdough

    The other is the “Bruce Lee Mixtape” by Freddie Bruno

    These are both old (or in my opinion, classic), but worth checking for if you don’t have them.


  • tk says:

    Adult Swim bump music… I keep telling the wife that I need more of it in my collection. Glad I came through. Whaddup, ElBfromtheLB?! How you livin?

  • jbinkle says:

    Instrumentals make the music, pun intended.

    My favorites:

    D’evils -jay-z
    Triumph -wutang
    IPA – Outkast n UGK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Instrumental in My Life at B A V U.


%d bloggers like this: