Category Archives: LET THE BEAT BUILD


It’s the month of resurrecting long dead post series on DRIVE SLOW!  This track doesn’t build to the climax some other entries in this series do, but there is still a steady addition of new elements throughout the entire song that subtly build momentum in a way that’s rarely found in rap.  Plus the rapping too amazing to not be included here.

Juvenile – Money on the Couch



This track would be presiding over its own category of “Most Epic” in the Rich Gang: Unreleased Awards (if not supplanting “The Story Behind It” for best Quan solo) if it hadn’t leaked about 10 days prior to the collection that I was working with.  Luckily it’s got a wicked build so it can still have its place on this blog, which it more than deserves.

Rich Homie Quan – Listen



The homie Laura Spencer hit me with this video today that brings this LET THE BEAT BUILD series full circle.

Nyle – Let the Beat Build

This hits on so many subjects that I’ve talked about in the past on here: beats that build, single-take rap videos, rappers rapping live instead of lip-synching… if only they had some people holding up handmade signs with the lyrics on them.  Thanks Laura!



I’m not quite finished formulating my $0.02 on the new Kendrick, that’ll have to wait for a future post, but I can say with utter certainty that this beat builds with the best of ’em.

Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta



I haven’t added to this series since before I liked Kendrick Lamar, but I was revisiting this song today and realized I neglected to mention its place in this series when it first came out.

Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – Cari Zalloni



I’ve had a lot of people telling me I should like Kendrick Lamar for a while now, and it’s not that I’m unimpressed by his work, quite the opposite, but there’s just always been some little something that puts me off about his delivery, and I’ve not been able to call myself a full-fledged fan quite yet.  However, in my experience, this reason for not listening to a certain artist is usually not well founded, and I’ve overcome many a superficial dislike of an artist by continuing to give them a chance and trying to find just the right song to teach me how to overlook whatever small quibble I have with their style and just embrace it.  It boggles my mind to think that there was a time when I cringed just enough at Lil’ Wayne’s rap style to not listen to his music, and that opinion has absolutely reversed over time.

So in that spirit, I decided today to put in a concerted effort to give Kendrick another chance, and with my somewhat forced-open mind, this song has hooked me in a stronger way than any of his others so far.  The way his voice cracks on certain words perfectly compliments his painfully honest message about feeling fortunate in so many ways despite his obvious flaws; his sincerity is completely undeniable and he does an amazing job of being introspective without becoming self-indulgent or self-involved in the process.  I remember hearing this when it first came out and feeling slightly moved by it, perhaps perceiving a small portion of what I now understand about it, but I don’t think I was listening quite close enough to it to really appreciate everything that is going on in this song until today, and I think I may have found that gateway song for myself that could get me onboard the Kendrick Lamar train.

And if nothing else, the song’s got a really nice build in it, so I can at least have something continue my New Year’s-born series with by posting of this song.

BJ the Chicago Kid – His Pain (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

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Last night I was re-listening to Big K.R.I.T.‘s first big mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here for the first time in a while, and I got reminded of this track that I somehow forgot about.  If I remember right, this was the first song that really caught my ears on that tape and made me want to listen more.  I guess I just got a little caught up in loving his newer shit and forgot about this older stuff.  I’m glad I remembered though.

Big K.R.I.T. – Viktorious

And if this is the first you’re seeing of this Let The Beat Build series, then check out all the previous entries here.



I had to end the week with the ultimate.  It takes a little bit to get to the build, but when it comes, it’s out of control.

D’Angelo – Untitled

It’s a shame the video for this song is a little abridged, it kinda ruins the build a little bit.  I still love it though, you should definitely watch it if you haven’t yet, or just haven’t in a while even.  I’ve been hearing rumors about a new album of his coming out this year maybe, but  I’ll believe it when I see it.  There’ve been rumors like that for a while now.  That’d make me pretty ok for the apocalypse though, if it did happen.

Well that’s gonna be the last entry in this series for now, we’re a week into 2012 and hopefully these tracks have been building you up to accomplish whatever you’re lookin to accomplish this year.  It’s definitely been fun for me to do this little series, and I’ll continue to make entries into this category from now on if I come across anything, and if you have any favorites of this type let me know for sure.  I really love this stuff, obviously.



Well I guess I’m going to have to eat my words about RZA not being a producer that has big builds in his music usually, cuz he produced this one too and it’s one of the most effective builds I’ve heard in rap.  I feel like this song illustrates better than any other song I’ve heard the idea of reaching a breaking point and having to change your whole attitude to adapt to circumstances.

Wu-Tang Clan – I Can’t Go To Sleep (feat. Isaac Hayes)

The beat starts out so emotional and mournful, and after it builds to that unbearable climax, it totally flips and switches to a sound that feels more like embracing that dark side and living with it and giving up on a lot of those feelings you were having, for better or worse.  And the lyrics match perfectly.  It hits so hard when that build ends during RZA’s verse and he comes in all off-beat and aggressive going “Walkin’ through park hill drunk as a fuck…”  It’s a beautiful representation of what happens every day, unfortunately, to so many people.  And with Isaac Hayes jumpin in here and there, fuckin perfect.

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Yeah, I know this isn’t a rap song, but I make the rules around here so I say it’s OK if not every single song in this series is a rap song.  This is the B side of “Ain’t No Sunshine“, and it’s got such an incredible build, I couldn’t leave it out.  You’ll see why I stretched my rules a little bit for this one I think.

Bill Withers – Harlem

And if you just NEED some hip-hop connection, just check out this post for some Bill Withers with rapping.

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