Not all charts are created equal. The wisdom of crowds can be a lot more convincing on a message board than on a sales chart. The top 10 albums of a given week, according to Soundscan, can be more a reflection of conventional wisdom and reactive consumerism than of individual taste or the state of the art. By contrast, on Internet forums where musicians post their own music for peer input, the accumulated number of comments can be a dependably solid sign of some solid work.
As of this morning, for example, the most commented upon entry among the 20 most recent threads in the “Beats/Instrumentals Showcase” forum at cratekings.com is a pair of grimy, artfully crafted rhythm tracks by one panamacanal. The thread is titled “New Beat Plz Check Out.”
The first and the real keeper, “Introducing … Intro” (MP3, zshare.net), is, as the producer says in his brief note, a Public Enemy-flavored flare-up, opening with that hip-hop trifecta: gunshot, hi-hat, strings. It doesn’t have the density commonly associated with the best Bomb Squad productions for Public Enemy, but it does have the ambient filigree, dramatic tension, and earnest vibe. “Life Hell” has a similarly classic opening: orchestral grandeur that drops, vertiginously, to downtempo swagger, a sweet lope of a loop played under some period spoken soul (MP3, zshare.net).
And both are, frankly, better — more interesting, moody, and detailed — than just about anything on the new Nas album, aside perhaps from its opening track.
(If the above MP3 links don’t function, just use the zshare.net service.)