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.