>History of a Beat


>Beats have as much of an ability to make a name for themselves as the artists themselves. Certain instrumental tracks in hip-hop become instantly engraved into our minds, the kicks, the snares, synths and subs permeate our mind just as heavily, if not more, then the lyrics that grace them. Kanye made a name for himself creating these iconic beats before he became a symbol of an entire genre. Jay-Z’s success is indebted to Kanye’s production and ways around a some kicks and a sample.

One J Dilla produced beat has become especially iconic over the years. It may not be engraves in the minds of the masses, but for anyone who truly respects rap,  this beat epitomizes what can be done in the genre. Runnin’ by Pharcyde. The minimal beat features and unbelievably catchy, yet simplistic sung chant over laid back guitar. The rhythm is powered by a minimalist beat, consisting of hi hats, a kick. The sound of drumsticks tapping glues the kicks and hats, all tied together by a clap on every other beat. Brass samples creep their way into the beat as well. The beat is simply perfection in instrumental terms.

Marc Mac, half of production duo 4hero, teamed up with a few musicians deemed the Visioneers in 2006 to create a hip-hop instrumental cover album called Dirty Old Hip Hop. Runnin was one of the songs covered in the album. Marc Mac presents the Visioneers added a jazzy vibe to the songs they covered, although most of them were already decently infused with jazz. There are a few non-hip-hop songs on the album as well, which are rebuilt around a hip-hop foundation.
I couldn’t find the Runnin’ cover on YouTube, but here is their cover of The World is Yours by Nas, to give you a feel of what Marc Mac presents the Visioneers is all about.
You can listen to the album, including Runnin’ in its entirety here.
A few years after the reworking of J Dilla’s classic beat on Dirty Old Hip-Hop, Wiz Khalifa was making a name for himself as a talented party rapper who’s stoner flow worked wonderfully over unique beats. He took the lazy, melodic Dilla beat and made it his own just as Marc Mac did earlier.


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