Have you ever thought of hip-hop as artful karaoke? Karaoke and hip-hop may sound incomparable, but at base level (bear with me here) they are pretty similar: a DJ spins an instrumental and someone grabs the mic to spit some stuff. Most people don’t take karaoke seriously because, for these reasons, it stinks of unoriginal mimicry and corniness. So where does hip-hop (obviously) depart?
Even though their musical formulas are the same, karaoke is lame and hip-hop is fresh because the emcee brings a unique energy and liveness to the stage, feeding off the DJ in a feedback loop. This classic MC/DJ combo served well as the standard hip-hop set-up, until a crop of art-school nerds who eventually became The Roots started to experiment with live instrumentation not only on their records but for their shows. Their live paradigm, which at the time of Organix was weird, has more than picked up, and with good reason. It doesn’t take more than four minutes at a Roots show to realize they offer the most energetic live hip-hop show going because of the real-time musicians putting their sweat and tears in on stage. Liveness is a vibe- thing in music. And it’s a human thing.
Yet when listening to The Roots and other live-oriented hip-hoppers like J Dilla or Black Milk, these productions still sound sample-based, because, well, they are: these “hybird” productions combine samples with live tracks of truncated phrases and repetitious riffs that suggest looping. These arrangements keep the tradition of the DJ in hip-hop alive, while creating new ones.
So what happens when a hip-hop production is rid of samples altogether? Montreal’s METAZON. Instead of recalling the genre roots of hip-hop though records, Metazon creates new sounds altogether with original compositions in the Funk-Jazz-Fusion, Latin Music and Afro traditions. Everything you hear is live, zero sampling. In case you’re a traditionalist, don’t worry: even with all of the styles and live sounds flying around in their music, it only takes a second of the “chk 1-2-1-2” chorus to realize Metazon is first and foremost hip-hop, just a different chapter of it.
“Beat N the Bass” is the first official video from Metazon’s first and forthcoming studio record World Class Buffet, set to drop January 21, 2011.
Also, their cover of Wu’s C.R.E.A.M blew me away. Check it out.
Download: “Beat N The Bass” – Metazon