Music

BEST OF 2011: Best Beats of 2011

by Winston "Stone" Ford

  Let’s face it. Beats are a commodity. There are so many good beats being created these days that it’s become harder and harder to find stand outs. As always, the cream rises to the top, and these set of producers have brought their knowledge of music and hip-hop to the highest level. From Alabama to the UK, these producers are continuously changing the game, injecting never before heard elements into their work. The result is just stunning.

Chris Brown – Look At Me Now (produced by Diplo and Afrojack)

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We’ve already gone over what makes this track great. Diplo and Afrojack’s ridiculous production on this track yesterday. But hey, it deserves another mention here.

The Weeknd – Wicked Games (produced by Doc McKinney and Illangelo)

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So not all songs on this list are head banger hip-hop tracks. Something has to be said about the the production of The Weeknd’s debut House of Balloons. Again, this is all about the instrumentals telling the story, and even without the vocals I can only imagine being on the penthouse of some Toronto condo with some blow and naked women. What Doc and Illangelo have done with this project is nothing sort of amazing. They succeeded in combining traditional R&B with indie rock trappings and creating a unique sound that cannot be matched.

SBTRKT – Wildfire (produced by SBTRKT)

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The most slept on beat of the year. Starting with an 80s Casio keyboard intro and flipping the traditional dubstep sounds into an interesting back beat, “Wildfire,” is one of best hip-hop beats produced this year. But the best part about it was that it worked with Yukimi Nagano’s vocals so well. Of course Drake’s phoned-in rhymes helped cement it’s hip-hop status, but take all of the instrumentals away and all you hear is a well crafted piece of music.

Lil Wayne – 6 Foot 7 (produced by Bangladesh)

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Bangladesh is no stranger to this website, and for good reason. His beats, starting with Luda’s “What’s Your Fantasy,” are nothing short of epic. Building off of Harry Belefonte’s “The Banana Boat Song,” Bang uses the most obscure part of the song to build his palate. It’s the same thing he did for “A Milli,” and show’s that he is a true listener and consumer of the music. And like “Milli,” his beats are tailor made of Wanye’s gritty vocals.

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Niggas In Paris (produced by Hit-Boy)

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Any rap song that samples Will Ferrell is enough for me. But honestly, California born producer Hit-Boy creates one of the hardest beats I’ve ever heard. Combined with the rough subject matter, Jay and Kanye’s Niggas In Paris goes hard. It’s not a club track. This is Black mosh pit music, and there are echoes of Three 6 Mafia’s “Tear Da Club Up,” in it’s anger. However, the intersection of Will Farrell (which even puzzled the actor) somehow works. I don’t know why, but it does.

G-Side – Luv 2 Hustle (produced by Block Beattaz)

Huntsville, Alabama’s Block Beattaz might be the sleeper producers of the year. Away from the so-called meccas of Atlanta, New York, or LA, the duo has been able to craft some of the finest forward thinking beats to come from the South since Dungeon Family. They’re not as prolific as of yet of course, however. Their use of samples from Australian indie rock band Tame Impala to the UK’s Joy Orbison might be called “blog bait,” but the production only uses these songs as a building block, in which the production duo lush instrumentals on top of.

Stalley ft. Rashad “SLAPP” (produced by Rashad)

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With hip-hop beats being passed around like a roach joint at a pothead party, it seems that there are few instrumentals that capture the essence of the artist. Thankfully, Rashad , the Ohio-based producer behind Stalley’s “SLAPP,” crafts a track that not only serves as a perfect introduction to the artist, but essentially sets the tone for his career going forward. Not only that, but they were able to crate this vintage, Southern/Midwestern sound, building from Dexter Wansel’s 1976 “Theme From the Planets, with its subtle horn elements and keyboard breakdowns. But what is astonishing is the sample of Beastie Boy’s “The New Style” that creeps in there as well. Excellent implementation.