For hip-hop fans who enjoy progression and experimentation, Beans is your guy. From his work as part of Anti-Pop Consortium through to his four solo projects, Beans has taken hip-hop into new terrain both lyrically and musically. His appearances on the microphone and behind the boards have been praised by hip-hop heads and critics alike – although he’s not without his detractors. But at the heart of his progression and experimentation is a supremely talented MC.
His newest release, End It All, contains some firsts for the hip-hop veteran. The album is his Anticon Records debut and it’s the first Beans album that features only outside production.
What isn’t new, however, is the quality of the music. And that is evident right from the album’s opening track. “Superstar Destroyer” is filled with almost old school braggadocio delivered in Beans’ very recognizable rhyme style, but it is done over a beat that is a blend of “traditional” hip-hop and almost space-like synths.
DJ Nobody delivers what, to many, would be considered a contemporary or traditional hip-hop production on “Deathsweater” and Beans rides it perfectly. His staccato flow and aggressive lyrics definitely showcase his skill as an MC – and should earn him some new fans.
Not surprisingly, “Electric Bitch”, produced by Sam Fogarino (the drummer for Interpol), features hard-hitting drums and – eventually – synth strings. Despite the outstanding instrumentation, Beans’ voice remains the focus when he delivers his rhymes – although the instrumental outro, which also features scratching, is an added bonus that can usually only be found on a Beans record.
Drums are also the focus on “Electric Eliminator”. The track, produced by Bumps (Tortoise’s drum section), also features some of Beans’ quickest wordplay on the album. And despite cramming a lot of words into each verse, Beans the MC displays incredible breath control and an ability to remain on beat.
Beans also welcomes Tunde Adebimpe (from TV On The Radio) to lend his vocals to the slightly slower “Mellow You Out”. The track, produced by In Flagranti, is bass-heavy and features synths (a recurring theme on any Beans project), but the MC handles it with his usual flair.
That is also a recurring theme on End It All. Beans handles the variety of productions with his usual style – while also showcasing more traditional content (for lack of a better term). Whether kicking old-school braggadocio with a twist (Clark’s “Hunter”) or story-telling rhymes (Four Tet’s “Anvil Falling”), this is a Beans record to the end – and that is a good thing for fans of the MC, but will probably serve as fodder for his detractors. However, at just 33 minutes, Beans’ end is perfectly timed.[audio:http://potholesinmyblog.flywheelsites.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/beans-mellow-you-out.mp3|titles=Beans – “Mellow You Out”]