Da Beatminerz: Dig for Something Deeper

posted July 27, 2001 12:00:00 AM CDT | 0 comments

Enough people pass in and out of the headquarters of Rawkus Records in midtown Manhattan on a regular afternoon to warrant the need for revolving doors. Since the hugely successful albums from the likes of Black Star, Mos Def, Talib Kweli & Hi Tek, Pharoah Monch and others, the label has had reason to keep such hectic work schedules.

On July 31, Rawkus plans to continue delivering the goods as Brace 4 Impak, drops from one of hip-hops most acclaimed production groups, Da Beatminerz. The album will mark the groups first effort under their own name from the crew that discriminating fans will remember from liner notes of Black Moons Enta Da Stage and Smif-N-Wessuns Dah Shinin in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Now, brothers Mr. Walt and DJ Evil Dee combine with fellow beatsmiths, Baby Paul, Rich Black and Chocolate Ty as Da Beatminerz with aims to break new ground by bringing things back to basics.

Dont forget about the bottom. Cuz thats what hip-hop needs right now, describes Walt as he sits across from younger sibling, Evil Dee in a meeting room at the office of their recording label. With this record, we give you a little flashback on how its supposed to sound.

The two make unlikely looking brothers. Walt is an unassuming man with thick glasses making him look as likely to be found in an office fussing over income tax reports as he would in a sound lab laboring over bass lines. E looks more suited for the professional wrestling circuit that he jokes about in his long dread locks and Heavyweight Champion-sized frame. Regardless, the brothers from Bushwick, Brooklyn offer their thoughts on the game that they think it has gone soft.

Hip-hop doesnt have that boom, you know what Im saying? That hardness. I think it lost it, ponders Walt while battling against a screeching office intercom that evokes images of an airport terminal backed up by a snowstorm. Again, a voice blares out of a speaker with the type of alarm that sends snoozing security guards scrambling to their feet like the sudden crackling of a walkie-talkie. Mr. Walt barely winces as he speaks purposefully right through it claiming, It has nothing to do with commercial success. Its just that the records being made are just light. It needs depth. Know what Im saying? Thats what hip-hops all about.

Walt casually states his opinion on the difference between todays rap scene filled with lovers and haters compared to the cabbage bouncing beats of the boom bap era. Im not really into it but I dont knock it. You have dudes that hate it, he observes. Im not going to say your shit is wack until I take a fair listen to it.

Puffy and all this light stuff, right? Some of it is good. Most of it is wack, asserts Walt as E nods in vague agreement. Southern Hospitality [from Ludakris] is a good record. Superthug from Noreaga? Good record. Good beat, admits the old schooler with earnest appreciation. Uhhh, what else? What else? What else? Thats it, he laughs after scanning his memory for recent radio hits. Evil Dee follows with an explosive laughter that takes up half the room before Walt returns to the subject. Nah, the Jay-Z record was a good record. Im a hustler, baby, he sings in an off-key falsetto. That one.

Da Beatminerz get their name from the depths that their bass lines drop to. Their sound allows vocalists and sampled melodies to dance along characteristically bottom heavy beats creating balanced tracks that are both polished and gritty. Brace 4 Impak continues in that tradition and features some of the tightest emcees and loftiest singers in the business. The first single, Live & Direct featuring Lord Tariq and Royce Da 59 is an exercise in basement flow that should inspire new generations to return to that classic lyrical warfare. Thats just Royce and Tariq just going at it. Just rhyming. We have a lot of songs like that but then we also have a lot of songs with messages in them.

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