Rap producers constantly amaze me with how much they can do with so little.  I remember in music school, professors always professed that “economy of materials” was one of the most admirable traits of a good composition.  In western classical music, it’s important to constantly develop and vary these basic materials, but the core of the idea is starting with something very minute and creating a constantly interesting piece of music from those ultra-simple materials.  Hip-hop producers aren’t generally interested in development in the classical sense, but they definitely share a respect for starting out with an extremely limited set of materials and creating a constantly engaging, interesting composition with it.  Those professors mentioned above would probably look down on music that didn’t vary and develop those ideas in the course of the composition, but to me, finding a tiny piece of musical material that you can just loop over and over again and it still is interesting four minutes in — that’s just as impressive in my mind.

Here’s what got me thinkin’ about this idea, I heard this song today and it reminded me of a couple other songs that I love that use the same kind of single-guitar-note-repeated-constantly technique to great effect.

The Alchemist – Flight Confirmation (feat. Danny Brown & Schoolboy Q)

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Thuggin’

Jaylib – The Red

There’s such an unshakable determination in beats like these, that single unrelenting note just drills into your very being, getting deeper and deeper in your brain the more you listen.  There’s a trance-like quality to tunes like these, and I’m constantly amazed that these dudes can make such an absurdly simple musical figure so captivating for a full song.  Let me know of any other songs with the same shit goin’ on, I love these kinda beats.

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  1. Mike Allen says:

    Woah! I’ve never heard that version of “The Red” before. Sounds more like Madlibs production style. I’ve only heard this version:

    I like it though.

    This Pete Rock beat is hypnotizing to me. The high piano notes are simple, and for some reason, it makes me feel like I’m dreaming.

  2. REDLiteDJ says:

    yeah that version of The Red you have is the only one I knew for a long time, and then when I finally found Champion Sound on vinyl, it had that version of it that i posted. I’m not sure why they use different versions for the different releases, maybe just for fun. I like it a lot, but I like the version you posted a little better, that beat is just amazing.

    and that’s a real nice pete rock beat too, that dude’s kinda unbelievable sometimes.

  3. […] knew as soon as I wrote that first part that I’d very soon think of some other song that I should have included in that post.  Sure […]

  4. i’ve been real into this song lately.

    Black Milk – Try

  5. That thuggin beat is amazing. & I know what you mean about that drillin feeling- I was thinking about that feeling, trying to think of other beats that come to mind & all I could think of was this one:
    lil wayne’s i feel like dying- dunno if it counts, but that beat makes me feel the same way

    • REDLiteDJ says:

      Oh yea I can see that, it’s not as ultra-simple of a repetition but that “I feel like…” that echoes through the background every measure definitely has a similar driving quality.

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