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.