Instrumental Hip-Hop Sucks. Ban It Forever.

Categories: Hip-Hop

rjd2-no-to-instrumental-hip-hop.jpg
RJD2

Instrumental hip-hop should be banned. It's the banal, meandering stepchild of hip-hop. It's a front-runner for the dubious honor of being the world's most snooze-inducing form of music. And, shockingly, there are still producers and fans who insist on validating it like it's anything but sample-based Chinese water-torture -- one of whom, RJD2, will be airing out his oh-so-atmospheric productions at Manor West on Wednesday, Feb.1.

Beyond playing spot-the-samples, listening to the entirety of an instrumental project from the likes of Madlib, RJD2, or J Dilla -- who now presumably spends his days pestering heaven's denizens with the unreleased off-cuts from his bizarrely worshipped Donuts ruse -- is a feat requiring the ability to numb your mind while practicing saintly levels of patience. Where is the joy and excitement in listening to three minutes of plodding drum beats overlaid with a short sample that repeats but goes nowhere? It's music without a start or end, without peaks and momentum -- it's hip-hop without a money shot. Tragically, it also forgets what makes hip-hop so invigorating in the first place.

Of course, in ye fabled Old School days, hip-hop began with the DJ as the cornerstone of the music: Armed with two turntables and a crate of vinyl, they'd spin the break-beat section of other artists' music. This was good. It was a magpie approach to curating music that honed in on only the snappiest, most infectious, and usually funkiest parts of a song. To invoke a cliche, it was like musical crack, distilling a song down to its most addictive part. Even before rappers were invited to MC over the breaks, it was a dancefloor- and block party-centric movement. The electro scene that quickly followed also made music to break and dance to.

But that quaint, nostalgia-saturated scene has nothing to do with the modern idea of instrumental hip-hop. Coming into its own off the back of the dirge of mid-'90s trip-hop, certain DJs and producers seemed to decide that they were on a pre-ordained artistic mission to conjure up -- ahem! -- "atmospheric soundscapes" instead of getting on with their jobs and making rap tracks that bang.

It's a formula that never works. Sure, hip-hop may no longer consist of a tight idealized union between the four elements, what with breakdancing and graffiti having been ostracized by modern mainstream rap. But it's the crucial dynamic of hearing someone rapping their ass off over a beat that makes the music so thrilling.

One-time Busta Rhymes cohort Roc Marciano's Marcberg was my favorite rap album of 2010. It's also available to buy in an instrumental format -- but when you take out Marcy's semi-slurred raps, the songs lose their menace and drama, and instead come off like a collection of miserable and depressing music. Likewise, Trackademicks has been providing the Honor Roll Crew with some of the freshest Bay Area hip-hop beats in years, but without Spank Pops' smart raps or Josie Stingray's enthusiastic energy, his work would downgrade into music to drift off to.

Even the world's foremost hip-hop hipster tastemaker, Diplo, couldn't inject some life into the conceit with his debut album, Florida -- an almost exclusively instrumental set whose only spark came when he crammed three fiery vocalists onto the track "Newsflash." (Bay Area stalwart DJ Shadow is exonerated from the crime of instrumental hip-hop by virtue of his music being more correctly in the lineage of Steinski's witty cut-and-paste experiments.)

Sure, some will claim that to fully understand and enjoy the experience of listening to -- shudder! -- an album-length collection of hip-hop music without words, you need to get high. (There's probably all sorts of awesome textures within the music that reveal themselves once you're enhanced, right?) But, frankly, if you're partaking in so much greenery that you can happily tolerate trawling through all 10 sets of MF Doom's Special Herbs series, don't you have bigger life issues to deal with than suspect taste in wordless rap music?

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Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Phillip Mlynar @PhillipMlynar, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.

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Manor West

750 Harrison, San Francisco, CA

Category: Music

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500 comments
mrblaq
mrblaq

Another shit VV article. Keep up the bad work!

jennbarker81
jennbarker81

First of all Roc Marciano is HipHop..Also if you like Dubstep, Bass music( which was popular in the 80's from Miami and sounds alil different now :/ ) or Drum&Bass,TripHop, even Electro, that was all inspiration from Hiphop..See some people do the devils work and try and re-create without paying homage..I remember..Your article was poorly researched, there are alot of good Hiphop beats that are way more than loops and breaks........Usually people that dont like Hiphop cant Dance... IMO alot of electronic music is EASY to make because its all on the grid (especially a Dubstep track or a 4 to the floor ass basic house track)...Dont forget the hand that feeds you NIGGA!

 

rarenoise
rarenoise

You, Journalist Sir, are a fool! :-)

What can one say ... listening to DJ Krush and DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist is such a booooring experience. I think you have very limited knowledge of the history of hip hop.

Buy yourself some MOWax albums and reconsider your ill-informed position .... 

filmerthejuan
filmerthejuan

As a producer, I find this article very ignorant and bias. There are many different producers who put in much more into their craft than what was "explained" in your article. If you look deep enough, it's out there. But if you just dismiss the whole topic with how much it bores you, well, that's bad journalism. No one want's to hear the opinion of a whiny hipster who thinks he knows everything. As a matter of fact, your opinion really doesn't matter. I'd value the opinion of someone who grew up with real hip hop opposed to your uneducated, unimportant self.

LuciGraw
LuciGraw

This article was well written but created on an arrogant, opinionated foundation. Like others below me have said, you can't call for the end of an art form merely because you don't enjoy it. Everyone doesn't listen to music the same way, more importantly the way you do. Sometimes on the bus home after a long day of work I rather enjoy the foggy, ethereal place artists like Flying Lotus and Madlib take me to. Lyrics provoke, I agree with that claim. However, what makes hip hop need to be aggressively provocative? Can we not be provoked out of our "norm" by art that challenges presidents such as aggression in hip hop?

instrumental beats
instrumental beats

 There was a great stuff in this article I really liked it very much! Gold had save a lots of informative site. Thanks a lot for this post!

instrumental beats
instrumental beats

Wonderful post, the content was excellent and the quality was outstanding. Thanks a lot for sharing such wonderful post with all of us. instrumental beats

Rickmorales
Rickmorales

youre a idiot, Phil. Learn your facts and take that cock out of your ear. Hipster fag

Guest
Guest

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I guess. I don't like mainstream country music. However, I don't think it should be banned because without pain there would be no pleasure. And I can't discredit those musicians because they are good, just not my cup of tea. With that said, every so often a country song will come along that I like. But I still love that old school country shit. But back to the hip hop thing, beats are beats, if you don't like instrumental hip hop, make a mixtape with your own words over it, that's probably what it's there for anyway. And if it's not, do it anyway, hip hop was never about bowing down to anyone, especially not another artist. Lastly, fuck all you hating ass hoes. The author of this blog and everyone else who wrote a comment to it can suck my big fat dick. Peace.

guest
guest

hahahaha. this guy sucks.

Aebasoco92
Aebasoco92

Dear faggot who wrote this retarded article,

you just posted a video example of mf doom + wrote an article about how instrumental hip hop should be banned

you better hope I don't find you, cause your actions just sealed the fate of you existence

yup I'm going to legitamitley murder you

Sincerely, Andrew Ian Basoco

p.s. I'm not trolling either, I'm really going to kill you.

Damian Morentin
Damian Morentin

This is one of the worst articles I ever read. Please go back to your community college, and ask for a refund; because you can't write at all. 

Michalis
Michalis

The most stupid article i've ever read. Congrats mr. Mlynar, i am going to bookmark this page in order to have sth to laugh with when i am not in mood

WTF
WTF

You should be banned from listening to hip-hop.

GetATmeBITCH
GetATmeBITCH

Over 2 months later, and you're still a fucking piece of shit wannabe hipster hip-hopper with no bad taste in music.

Keep writing about Odd Future and Rocky ASAP - mainsteam, mediocre, and lame ass shock rap needs you - real fucking hip-hop doesn't.

Seanzy04
Seanzy04

Are you kidding me? Don't let this guy post again.

Boogietronix
Boogietronix

I feel Mlynar's pain to an extent, but some of his comments are downright wrong.

Firstly, I understand what he means about RJD2; it's soundtrack music. I wouldn't go to one of his gigs either. It's beats for people who think they know hip hop because they have two Roots albums. Listenable? Maybe. Hip hop? Hardly.

However, comparing him to the likes of Dilla or Madlib... For me, that's just weird. With Dilla, you are talking about a guy who produced so much amazing music, behind so many legendary songs, that heads practically begged for his sans-rap output. There's no comparison with Madlib either. Just have look at the magnitude of samples and music knowledge that go in to producing his stuff to know that behind it, there certainly is the mind of an evil genius. (Also, we all know Special Herbs was released under the Metal Fingers alias, not MF Doom. Perhaps intentionally, no?)

If you want to get more of an idea of where Mlynar's coming from, have a look at the artists he's giving decent reviews. (Action Bronson... Now there's a career with longevity) Personally, I read an article like this and wonder about the state of hip hop when you can have a guy considered an authority spout such generalized dribble and still get published. It's embarrassing. But hey, look how much interest this blog post has generated. I guess it served its purpose after all.

jesse
jesse

You are a dumbass that thinks he know everything! but just need to keep his Opinion to himself. If there where no hip hop instrumentals there would be know hip hop! fucking cunt! And there is always better to come! old school is coming back intertwined with ME, so shut the fuck up and if you think you know shit about instrumentals , shut the fuck up. they are key to hip hop and it just wont stop!

Ert
Ert

Has the writer made a formal apology for writing this article, yet?

Tylenjoi
Tylenjoi

you, philip, have a horrible taste in music. nuf said

Freedomstyles
Freedomstyles

I do not understand why someone would write an article taking a style within a genre and dissing it. Its just completely pointless and makes no sense. I mean EVERYONE has these things they don't like and one must understand that you just simply can't love all music. Its always a matter of taste. I love trash metal, but I'm not a fan of power metal but that does not mean I want to wipe it out of existance. I know why I don't like power metal, but I do not write it into an article, because I know the value of my personal taste is zero when it comes to articles. In hiphop I do not like the southern style of beat production, but I don't want to get rid of that either since I know so many people love it. There is talent in every genre even if you reckognize it or not. I dunno if the whole article is some sort of sarcasm, but its just plain silly.

Planeinsane1
Planeinsane1

You know what should also be banned? Idiots that think they are some kind of an authority, that rant and rave about nothing. And try to get other moorons to follow suit in there worthless cause.

greg
greg

Whoever wrote this article is retarded and probably has shit taste in music. Please abandon journalism and find a new job.

sven
sven

I am honestly impressed at the pure idiocy of this writing. No ordinary moron can come up with this shit. Only the purest of dipshits can come up with this shit

Oktagonshow
Oktagonshow

Whoever wrote this is white...

(I can tell...)

SMH.

Andrew Ramirez
Andrew Ramirez

DUMBEST ARTICLE EVER! Why listen to house/jazz/soul/funk or why watch a silent movie, why even read a book? I'll tell you why you dont like any of the above with no lyrics, cause your a moron. Instrumental hip hop is more of a canvas than anything. If you cant appreciate, then stop listening to music

Bsmith
Bsmith

You sir are a sharlatan. Let's see you create a piece out of samples or get behind some decks. I would literally slap you on the streets for your comments on dilla alone.

You pretentious piece of shit. Die in a aids infested fire.

Sincerely Me.

Youngblood
Youngblood

Clearly someone's mother never taught him that it isn't appropriate to speak ill of the dead. R.I.P. J Dilla, a man who displays more talent in one "bizarrely worshipped" instrumental hip-hop track than this dude does in his entire writing history. And now, for my next piece "Impertinent Online Articles Blow. Banish Them Forever."

DaNaLoGuE
DaNaLoGuE

Funny thing was I got right into the Doom and Diplo track they are banging tunes considering they are meant to be examples of a bad genre.

Just one of infinite angles on this topic, but one thing I LOVE about instrumentals is that these heads who are making them have epic record collections, so when they pick out something to sample its often something that most of us have never heard of, maybe an obscure gem that we'd never get to hear otherwise...lots of stuff that might be out of print or not available in the shops or online..its like a living history of music, and a rebirth of old sounds through modern lens, its beautiful.

Only 2 vibrations, Love and Fear. Why doesn't Mr.Article write one about the rappers he absolutely loves and tells us why with you tube clips. 

Stanlley Cadet
Stanlley Cadet

Read this a while back. Still not over how fucked up this is.Hip hop w/out instrumentals is like spoken word w/out the audienceThe beat makes them verses possible otherwise all you have is wordsNobody wants to just nod their heads to words...right? This article is just a fail IMHO.

Tapachula50
Tapachula50

I love to hear people who don't like hip hop talk about hip hop. Nothing is ever good enough for them.... until Pitchfork approves it, then they act as if they knew about it all along. Pathetic. BTW... There isn't much difference between Endroducing and Donuts. Study the technique.

Akua Adaeze Grant
Akua Adaeze Grant

Boo. You don't know what the funk you're talking about. It's dope. 

5maybe10minutes
5maybe10minutes

hey kiddo. Please stick to what you know; you're immediate, mainstream, accessible hip hop. You obviously don't have an ear for music or musicianship. You don't dig deep enough to find anything meaningful because you don't have it in you. If you're fight is about people's inclination for nostalgia then do some work around it. It's your imagination that's a snooze, like the kids you drink PBRs with at cute indie rock shows.

Noway
Noway

say wha?

you mention how dj shadow is exempted from your rant, because he uses a more "old school" cut and paste "steinski style" to create his music....so to break that logic down, you can loop other peoples music, but if you create your own drums combined with your own ideas, its a snooze fest. i would say that most of dj shadows music falls into snooze fest. hardly a party rocking vibe. that being said, entroducing is one of my favorite albums. but, i would never rock it out full blast to get everyone "dancing"...

i dont think you have any idea what hiphop music is...nor do you have any clue about making music. i would love to hear your version of a hiphop track?? with rappers and stuff!

Hipschock
Hipschock

Everyone is different.  I feel like I couldn't memorize the words to any song in the world if I tried.  A nice listening alternative is instrumental hip hop.  To simply knock one genre or another is merely foolish.  To each is own.  Just to make what I am saying clear is that if you think words ARE necessary for good music, you may be misguided... Look at Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Beethoven, Mozart... must I say more?

Rayreef
Rayreef

Rap is mostly crap it ruined the art of turntables and breakbeats in faver of  gangster or spliff rap.Not everything is bling bling but most of it is ,Rap and HipHop r 2 very different things u have missed the point at every turn ,the 4 elements! 

CTRL+P
CTRL+P

Go fire up your Lil Wayne and Puff Daddy collection and leave the real heads to their business Phil. When you grow a bit maybe we will consider allowing you to listen to our conversations again.

Rpayton719
Rpayton719

You have to be maybe 22 years old. That is the only possible way that you can not see the beauty in beat creation and exactly what goes into it. I apologize that it's not the instant gratification and shock value wielded by Odd Future, but instrumental hip-hop like this is for those who still appreciate the science and skill involved in the beat process. And for the record, OFWGKTA is the only thing to happen to a basically extinct underground scene for the last 10 years. They just present a certain "in your face" element which is embraced by the masses, and I have no problem with what they are doing. I actually dig it.

But instrumental hip-hop to a beat that is emceed over is like boxing to UFC. Boxing is for sophisticates and old school cats who appreciate the art of the fight, while UFC is basically for the rest of the blood-thirsty population who want sheer violence and senseless destruction. Is that an elitist way of thinking? It might be. It also might be your impatient attitude and the way American culture has catered to your "Now! Now! Now! More! More! More!" bulls**t.

This is actually one of the most uneducated, revolting articles I have ever read. To say that you represent San Francisco in any way, shape, or form is doing an immense disservice to what is a culture rich in music in every way. You're basically a complete square, man....and you might fit better in L.A.

And this:

certain DJs and producers seemed to decide that they were on a pre-ordained artistic mission to conjure up -- ahem! -- "atmospheric soundscapes" instead of getting on with their jobs and making rap tracks that bang. 

Rap tracks that "bang"? I bet you go to the bar and get a Grey Goose and Red Bull and tip $.50. I'd put money that you have one of those "everyone owes me something" s**tty super hipster attitudes to go along with it because you write for this blog. You also mix top shelf liquor with energy drinks. That's what dips**ts do. And that is your assigned category.

I believe I speak for all hip-hop when I say you should desert the field of journalism and move into something that's more your speed, like a backstage fluffer at an LMFAO show.  

Orgvol
Orgvol

EvolutionTransformation Progression

Haters gonna hate

Diplo=hiphop???
Diplo=hiphop???

Wow...the hate in this article is pretty pathetic...I think the next time you feel like obliquely shitting on an entire style of music you should just stop and write another article about "V-Nasty" and "Kreayshawn"...it's funnier to watch you cling to their nuts than it is to watch you cry about a genre you aren't feeling.   

fuck you
fuck you

This is some of the stupidest shit I've ever read.

Le Chiffre
Le Chiffre

Hats of the the author of this ingenious piece. His rant-like article was, I believe, a cunning ploy. By dismissing the genre as little more than background noise to smoking sessions he's enraged fans into angry replies. He's got his fix of attention and plenty of publicity with the likes of Cut Chemist having a say. He probably doesn't believe in half of what he says and is akin to sensationalist British tabloid press in the way he uses such evocative labels. Well played sir.

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