Thursday, June 4, 2009


The Internet is an amazing thing no? Witness one Sam Baker who, within the space of 2008, went from anonymously making beats in his bedroom to being a much vaunted player in the left-field hip hop game. His meteoric rise to prominence can be attributed in part to experimental beatsmith Flying Lotus who originally put him on. Lotus, who discovered him via Myspace, was initially instrumental in his name getting out there, but it was the avalanche of adoring taste maker blogs that sealed his fate. This is as good an example as we are likely to find of the emerging new business model, if you can call it that. Bloggers, not A&R label suites are the new gatekeepers, and global Internet credibility, (which will lead to a higher profile thus more concert revenue) not signing to a major for a multi-album deal is the new jackpot.

Sam's woozy, off-kilter electro hobbles with the swagger of a drunken b-boy- the drums pitching forward only to snap back into place. Loose, squiggly synths; lopsided, gurgling bass lines and an assortment of interesting, lo-fi, sampled instruments create a jagged motif which sounds thrown together, that is, spontaneous in the best sense of the word. If the beats sound a bit reminiscent of Flylo's, it may be because the two traded samples early on via the Internet. And would later form the Brainfeeder imprint once Sam relocated to LA.

I believe the acclaim is warranted but the obsessive harping on the Jay Dee connection not so much. Yeah, they’re both Michiganers who make(made) hip-hop, and I guess the case could be made that anyone producing hip-hop nowadays owes something to Dilla; but I think the comparison has been a bit over sold. So the dude likes experimenting with his drum machine without quantisization, it doesn't mean he’s a Dilla knock off. It just means his approach is relaxed and his style is a bit esoteric.

For a taste, check out this mix.

Also clock this unofficial debut he put together in ’08, Rap Beats vol. 1. (the files are poor quality but you'll get an idea.) Listening to this album is kind of like looking at the personal sketch pad of a Basquiat or a Robert Williams; yeah it’s only a semi-coherent collection of partially formed ideas, but it’s still fucking art. Especially digging the Nintendo inspired Super Chronizio Bros 2, the broken swing of Flotation Device, and the throw back electro bounce of It’s Important.

And make sure you grab his official release, The Return EP on Hyperdub. (Can’t say how jazzed I am about this new LA/UK axis of experimental electronic music.)

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