The Crate Kings website (cratekings.com) has been holding hip-hop Beat Battles online. If you’ve been following the often whimsical Iron Chef of Music competition series held over at kracfive.com, this is similar, but the Beat Battles participants have a more firmly shared understanding of the parameters for the end product. And where the Iron Chef series might provide ice rattling or an old TV theme song as fodder, the Beat Battles series digs deep in a crate of soul and fusion LPs.
In a given Beat Battle, the moderator of the website’s forums (under the name Semantik) posts a full-length track. Forum regulars are encouraged to devise their own instrumental hip-hop, or i-hop, track from the source material. The most recently completed battle was based on “Broken Home” by Eddie Palmieri & Harlem River Drive (MP3). Some 27 entries were posted. Here are a few examples:
Robotoh‘s “Right to Fight Schemes” (MP3) makes much of the original’s watery keyboards. Juzown‘s aptly named “Broken” (MP3) loops the original and lays a downbeat where the sample’s seam appears. Even though the source material was provided as an MP3, Beat Maker Tip manages to work in proper scratching (MP3). And Yabba‘s “Where Do We Go?” plays up the vocal and sax line (MP3). Those are just a handful of the entries. It’s absolutely fascinating to listen to the original, and to then listen to over two dozen variations, each of which takes a fragment and blows it up to the length of a proper song. For the full list, including audio of each, go to cratekings.com.
There’s a new battle raging right now, based on Billy Cobham’s “Red Baron.” The rules are simple: “(1) The only sounds you may use are from the sample, with the exception of drums and bass; (2) The beat must be in the 80 – 110 bpm range.” Entries are due by this coming Thursday, September 20. Voting ends the following Thursday.