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Spoils of a Beat Battle (MP3s)

The message boards at stonesthrow.com, like those over at cratekings.com, are filled with up’n’coming beatcrafters, sharing their productions and looking for feedback.

Looking to battle, too. Like the cratekings.com forums, stonesthrow.com hosts ongoing Beat Battles, in which entrants take a communal sample and make something new from it. The most recent battle, number 115 (you read that right), had over 50 participants (you read that right, too).

The house rules are simple, and purposefully restrictive. You’re allowed that one sample, which you can cut’n’splice as you please. There’s an admonition against keyboards, and you can submit only one mix per contest.

There are some masterful little productions among the submissions in contest 115. Dubman‘s upbeat “Chicken of the Sea” (MP3) is an organ-crazed, uncharacteristically upbeat affair, while AJ‘s “stmb bb 115” uses some backward masking to bring a turntablistic flair to the work (MP3). And while most of the productions have a rap-ready appeal, there’s some abstraction afoot: the cut’n’paste “kvu_STMB115” has some extended breaks that are downright leftfield — for fun, call its creator Will.i.am S. Burroughs (MP3).

While they’re enjoyable on their lonesome, the best way to appreciate a Beat Battle like this one is to listen to the whole group, which provides a broken-kaleidoscope view of the original track. That organ so central to the Dubman track (which won the battle vote), for example, is reduced to a halting cadence on Saphyre‘s “Stonesthrow15” (MP3)

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The original post is at stonesthrow.com, and voting closed this past Friday at stonesthrow.com. The full set is at drop.io (the track titles veer toward the unintelligible, and I’m not sure which of them is the original sample). There appears to be an expiration date built into those MP3 URLs, but it’s not clear when it is, so if you find the material of interest, download sooner than later.

The next Stones Throw Beat Battle, number 116, is based on “The Paisley Window Pane” by late-1960s folk-pop duo Wendy and Bonnie. This time around, the source is helpfully titled “This Is What You Need to Sample” at the drop site, drop.io/stmb116. (The song was apparently sampled previously by Super Furry Animals on the opening track to their 2003 album Phantom Power, titled “Hello Sunshine.”)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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