Five Excellent Beat Projects Pt. 2 – [Marcus D] x [Stan Forbee] x [Oilix] x [A N T I T H E S I S] x [Fujitsu]

Producers/beatmakers are often unfairly overlooked because of artists. Truth be told, producers are artists themselves, as every instrumental requires its own unique form of craftsmanship, and a precise vision to execute the idea. Without producers, your favorite hit single would simply not sound the same, yet alone exist! Comparable to the clientele work of an artisan or sculptor, when producers craft beats for artists, they must put themselves in another’s shoes to innovate. However, the music of production pioneers Nujabes and J. Dilla demonstrates that instrumentals are entirely separate and complete bodies of work. Applied rapping or vocals are not complements to production, but instead honorary elements that create an alternative version. Therefore, to an extent, the artist serves as a guest feature over the producer’s original creation. To effectively shed greater light to the creative brilliance of producers, I’ve chosen to start a monthly series titled “Five Excellent Beat Projects,” which will highlight five instrumental works that I consider exceptional. This is the second installment of the series.

Marcus D – Kirin – Marcus D is a phenomenally talented producer hailing from Seattle, who currently lives in Tokyo, Japan. Marcus has collaborated with American hip hop legends, such as Del the Funky Homosapien, Royce Da 5’9″, Saigon, Skyzoo, Crooked I, Skyzoo, and Blu. In 2009, Marcus won the Seattle Red Bull Big Tune Beat Battle competition. Fascinatingly enough, Marcus D is better-known for his contributions to the Japanese jazz hip-hop scene. Citing the production pioneer Nujabes as his mentor, the influences of the late Japanese icon are easy to spot in D’s music. In 2012, Marcus earned international recognition with the release of “Melancholy Hopeful,” released under Hydeout Productions, the independent record label once operated by Nujabes. This release featured the likes of familiar Nujabes affiliates, ranging from Shing02, Substantial, Cise Star, Funky DL, and Emancipator. Now 2020, among Marcus’s already impressive discography, Kirin is the latest album from the Seattle native, with its sound fully reflective of the Japanese landscape he’s assimilated to. Each and every track contains its own intricately nuanced melody; a production trait that developed the iconic identity of his deceased mentor. The final track “Cascade” is magnificent, yet frightening, as if Nujabes’s soul is enveloped in Marcus D’s body. The unique album artwork was created by Horinao, a skilled artist out of Tokyo, Japan.

Stan Forbee – Uplift – Growing up in The Netherlands, Stan Forebee’s real name is Bastiaan van der Vlist. Fascinated with jazz music, Forebee likes to describe his work as “painting with musical colors.” Having mastered the piano at a young age, studying classical music was imperative for Stan to eventually learn jazz. A passion for classic composition eventually blossomed Forebee’s affinity for hip-hop, neo-soul, and even electronic music. Cited influences of Stan Forebee’s include undeniable legends – J. Dilla, Flying Lotus, Radiohead, and Bibio. With at least fifteen career years under his belt, Stan’s music has been featured on platforms such as NPR Radio, MTV, The Washington Post, The Verge, and BBC. Forebee’s latest is an EP titled Uplift, which was released under Memoir Music (a sub-label of Chillhop Music). This particular EP differentiates from Forebee’s former releases, because the style is ambient as opposed to jazz focused. Per Stan’s Instagram post, the EP intends “to uplift you, help you to relax, find peace, and reflect on the things happening around the world and in your personal life.” The tranquil soft instrumentation provides a soul-searching experience throughout, enabling the listener to enter a meditative state. As Forebee puts it, all five tracks serve as their own “offering of calm,” and “bright pond beyond the bluff.”

Oilix – At Home – Real name Danil Tastukhov, Oilix is an immensely skilled producer living in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He makes soundtracks for videogames, fims and commercials under Danil, using Oilix as his production alias. With 100,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, Oilix’s sound can be described as modernistic jazz, with a touch of mellow incorporation. His latest album At Home is no different, containing eight signature jazzy songs with variation in tempo. Each record is brilliant, but “Alondra Boulevard,” “Life Swing,” and “Hammock” are my highlighted picks. “Alondra Boulevard” is a silky-smooth tune, containing groovy instrumentation that makes one feel as if they are wandering the streets of Los Angeles, California.  “Life Swing” is perhaps the record that stands out the most; the recurring melody is beautifully accompanied by echoing (unlisted) female vocals. The final track, “Hammock,” is the only song on the project with a listed feature. Featuring Project FILO and o-nei-ric Tapes’s Leo The Kid, a producer from Cologne, Germany, the collaboration masterfully infuses Oilix’s style with Leo’s, chopping up a piano key masterpiece. In its entirety, the project flows seamlessly, making it the perfect vibe for any occasion.

A N T I T H E S I S –  Redemption (A Visual Journal– R E D E M P T I O N (A Visual Journal) is an art film about being saved from sin, error or evil. It explores concepts of regaining possession and freedom – the act of coming together, and also letting go. The accompanying music and album, R E D E M P T I O N Vol. 1, Pt. 1 journeys through dichotomous notions and themes around what it means to either redeem or be redeemed. A N T I T H E S I S is a piano project by Georgii Speakman and Phillip Lewis that’s rooted in storytelling, thematics, and strong content. The name A N T I T H E S I S is inspired by concepts of dichotomy, relativity, and polarity, such as the yin and yang. In every God given moment of life; namely situations/circumstances, the universe in totality has existing opposites. There are themes of antithesis’ throughout everything we do, think and experience. It’s all about perspective. Edited by Sage Morei, the art film and album features Georgii Speakman, Aleksei Archer and Mackenzie Palmer. The visual journal features Georgii, Aleksei Archer and Mackenzie Palmer. Creative direction and production was executed by Speakman, along with additional direction plus camera work from Nina Hawkins. 

Fujitsu – corals 3 – Fujitsu is an England based producer residing in the United Kingdom. Having already dropped what will bewill be this year, (a five track EP) the release of Corals 3 is the third installment of of Corals, a series with ambient production. Each EP intends to evoke the colorful qualities of coral reefs, incorporating warm, tropical feels. The first record, “coconut tree,” incorporates subtle water sounds, presumably of the ocean given the project’s cover art. All five tracks are tranquil enough for one to appreciate solitude, strictly out of desire to fully listen without disruption. All three projects are exquisite, but corals 3 is the most refined in my opinion. Fujitsu has avoided auditory redundancy, despite the samey vibe maintained throughout each installment. If Fujitsu were to release three more versions, I personally hold confidence that they’d sound equally as enjoyable, if not more!

I hope you enjoy these five masterful works of art. Stay tuned for the third installment of “Five Excellent Beat Projects,” dropping sometime in July!

 

Words by Brandon Washington