Age of Instrumental Hip-Hop — Samiyam’s ‘Sam Baker’s Album’ Reflection
It seems that there is no better or worse time to be a producer. With the advent of digital streaming and content marketing, musicians are free to market their music where and how they please. Although it may be convenient, this convenience will undoubtedly always lead to a saturation in the market. Due to this freedom, music could take some odd turns. With the saturation of music in nearly every streaming platform, we’re seeing unusual genres. Genres such as Bedroom Pop, Vaporwave, and Jazz Hop.
The interesting part about these genres is that they all work. There’s something about the obscure qualities they hold that resonate with peoples’ tastes and predilections. It seems that the younger generations do show less ignorance when it comes to new forms of art that head in their path. This was and still is the case for the Instrumental Hip-Hop genre.
Ever since the 2000’s struck with a new confrontation on music, a lot of that has changed. Hip-Hop music was being “polished into Dance music,” and held the flame for future producers to make a name for themselves. With the likes of Madlib in the early 2000’s or DJ Khaled in today’s mainstream presentation, a producer’s work could be just as conspicuous as a lyricist’s music.
After the passing of J Dilla in 2006, much of the scene was left to find out what path it should take. Around five years later, the latter reemerged once the California label Stones Throw introduced artists such as the Knxwledge, Mndsgn, and Samiyam.
Samiyam came into the scene early on but did not receive much attention beyond his nightly local shows until his affiliation with Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder Label. Through years of curating and cultivating beats, he managed to release one beat tape after another. Ever since 2011, he’s been fervently at work.
Sam Baker’s Album came out in 2011, with some mild reviews and criticisms. Many critics felt that in comparison to the rising fame of Clams Casino, Samiyam’s work fairs subtly, but holds no regality against it. Although, in the sense of how the Instrumental Hip-Hop formula works, Sam Baker’s album is a near-perfect case for the genre.
The album holds seventeen tracks for its well-rounded forty minutes. All of these beats are clear-cut and deftly crafted. Every instrument and sample being used in these beats could be heard from the naked ear and never become too congested to decipher what’s going on. Each track in this album has a different appeal to offer, with every appeal disguised in its own ruggedness or polish. Sometimes you could hear the grime and muck spewing from the cuts, but could be heard even in low-end earphones or speakers.
Other times, the beats could be sparse or cleanly cold. With the track, Bedtime Stories, every element of the beat could be distinguished from one another. There’s a grimy bass that repeats throughout the track but does not muddle the samples or booming drums. On the track Lifesized Stuffed Animals, there’s a sample of a cut-up and repeated carousel theme, added along with a reverberating bassline and bombing drum snares.
Each track has its own unique choreography than compresses together to a two-minute session filled with interesting flavors and original crafting. Samiyam approaches this genre with a different flare. As other similar artists typically attempt to revive the 1990’s era sound, Samiyam and his affiliates augment the genre into something new. This album was his start on the path and a pretty decent one.
Typically, the standard procedure for Hip-Hop music declares that the sample must be muddled and reverbed in some uncharted way, as the MPC must do the majority of the work to add the urban spice to it. Much of the samples in this project are obscure as even intermediate music heads most likely wouldn’t even recognize the samples.
Samiyam also choreographs the way he utilizes his MPC in a unique way. Instead of the traditional drum and snares heard in a Madlib track, Samiyam likes to color them with bass filters that swing upwards, slow down, and increase in noise.
As Hip-Hop music continues to morph into a different specimen every generation or so, the proceeding subgenres must evolve with the parent genre in order to survive the market. The club-sound of Lil Jon is now a thing of the early 2000’s. Boom-Bap Hip-Hop no longer holds its vinyl magic in the digital age of immaculate sound.
The case of Instrumental Hip-Hop seems to be that artists want to experiment with them. Samiyam only adds to that continuous experimentation, and will only go further from here. That’s how artists truly make it in their music scene. In the age where uniqueness is essentially a necessity, Samiyam does a good job with it, and he ceases to disappoint ever since then.