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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Peer-Reviewed Hip-Hop MP3s

Internet forums dedicated to hip-hop production and other forms of electronically mediated music are packed with posts from bedroom beatmakers and home-studio soundsmiths sharing their work, most of them just looking for some feedback.

At the better forums, the feedback isn’t merely a pat on the back from a fellow traveler. Over at cratekings.com, for example, if you post a weak beat, you may get a verbal beatdown in return.

For every encouraging post — “dont worry about what anyone thinks just make the music you like to make and make it as dope as possible,” a cratekings member named dyllemma recently replied to a novitiate with a Spike Lee photo for an avatar — there’s a taskmaster lurking in the shadows. Someone going by Organix told one poster, “I like how you rock the samples but the drums need a bit of work.” And CatasBeats told another poster, “i dont know man this sounds like noise to me. like i cant nod my head to it its all over the place. no steady pattern of anything.”

Aspiring beat scholars take note, this is peer-reviewed material. Most of the participants in the dialog post their own work, backing up their words with their own efforts. At cratekings.com, there are several places where users post their beats for the public. One is the Beat Battles forum, where a single sample is shared by competitors who, Iron Chef-style, seek to best utilize it in a rhythmic backing track. There’s also a freeform forum, where a typical heading will read “New Beat. Thoughts Wanted.” That’s how Boulder, Colorado-based Organix introduced a track titled “Rising Sun.” (The file is available not as a direct download but, like most of the cratekings.com material, via the zshare.net service, which holds data for a limited time.) The Organix cut is an exercise in beats and atmosphere, a mix of hand claps and hard synth tones serving as undergirding for a gentle, headphone-to-headphone sway of chimes.

More info at myspace.com/organixlives, where “Rising Sun,” along with a handful of other originals, is available for streaming. The harder-edged “Organix Visionz,” with its melted-vinyl breaks, is especially recommended.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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