!llmind is known as one of the most respected beat makers today. This is largely due to the fact that a.) he is a wizard at staying relevant in hiphop and b.) he is a dope producer that takes his music and his growth as a musician seriously. In recent months, you may recall that !llmind is one of the most active and likely the most visible drum kit designers. Indeed !llmind’s BLAP kits are the hottest thing smoking on the interwebs right now.
On June 7th !llmind dropped a really cool and inspiring “free” project entitled !.B.F.K.W., or for the acronym-illiterate that’s “!llmind Beats for Kanye West.” That’s what’s up. !llmind, being a producer’s producer (literally) knows how to craft a sound that caters to the artist while lending his own signature flavor to the overall sound.
The project opens with “Romeo & Juliet” which begins with harmonic voices and a smattering of piano befitting of a proper introduction. Soon, the big break beat drums blap and slap you in the face. Expertly chopped and reprogrammed, the drum break here is familiar but indeed so well sliced and rearranged that it somehow feels like something new. The brief change up / break is sprinkled with a nice transitional electric guitar riff.
The next cut “Bitche$” is again driven by its big chopped break beat sound and moved along with a low growly bass and vocal sample stabs. The bridge or change-up is where this joint shines. The eerie vocal harmonies and emotional strings seem to sound similar to something that I’ve heard Kanye do before. Although, this might be my least fav of the project, I can see and hear Kanye making this joint his own. Too bad it never made the submission cut but totally cool that we still get to enjoy it via this release.
A stand out cut here is “Poppa was a Rolling Stone” produced by !llmind and co produced by S1 aka Symbolic One with additional instruments played by Kailin Yong and beautifully sang vocals by The Frontrunnerz. If any of these joints serve justice to !llmind’s production chops, and ability to capture the artist, it’s this one. Again the big drums blap around and anchor the track while the dramatic voices and strings provide and emotional backdrop for the sparse but perfectly sprinkled additional instrumentation.
Again on “He’s Against Me” !llmind captures Kanye’s essence in a Flashing Lights and jungle drums of Love Lockdown sort of way. It’s easy to hear Kanye’s slightly country drawl of emotional wordplay over this warm composition. The Piano feels familiar while the vocal sample blends nicely into the entire composition.
Overall, !.B.F.K.W. is a masterful piece of work with it’s polished and lush production and it’s fresh song arrangements with brilliant bridges and hooks. However, given what I know of Kanye as an artist that changes often and more dramatically with each project, !.B.F.K.W. seems to be filled with tracks for the College Drop Out, Late Registration or Graduation versions of Kanye as opposed to the “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” or “Watch The Thrown” version of Kanye as of late. That said, I understand why even as good as these beats are they ended up having not been chosen for actual Kanye West project. Still, as I said, its dope to think that !llmind is savvy enough to know that these beats are in themselves valuable and viable as a product that his fans can enjoy.
Here is what !llmind had to say about this set of compositions for ‘Ye “Kanye West is undoubtedly one of the most exciting producer/artists to emerge in the last decade. His music is one of the few I can safely say I whole-heartedly admire (next to the late great J. Dilla). I had the pleasure of producing “The Morning” off of 2012’s highly anticipated “Kanye West Presents: G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer” LP. During the creation of that song, and between the months of July 2012 – March 2013, I created a handful of tracks with Kanye West in mind. This is a collection of some of that music. It features collaborations and co-production from my long time friend Symbolyc One (Produced Kanye West’s “Power”, “Murder 2 Excellence” on Watch The Throne & part of Kanye’s “Very G.O.O.D. Beats” entity), Dr. Know Jr., M31RK, Hippie Sabotage, Kailiin Yong &The Frontrunnerz. I had so much fun creating this stuff, and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.”
Additionally, this project is especially well put together with its stand out artwork by @TheRealNaturel. Naturel’s art is clearly the other secret weapon in this project. I personally love art and music collaborations like these. It lends itself to the idea that hiphop is indeed, as Chuck D says, “high art at it’s best.” Included in the download of the project are these additional pieces.
Head over and download !llmind Beats For Kanye West EP
Artwork by @TheRealNaturel
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