Week 205 of the Stones Throw Beat Battles involved a bit of what appears to be Turkish music, a woman’s voice heard over flanging sitar and rattly percussion. In the hands of the Beat Battles crew, those raw materials experience a sonic diaspora, headed every which way. By a rough count, 50 or more different tracks built from the same shared source material were uploaded — presumably each by a different producer.
The first rule of the Beat Battles is “flip the chosen sample any way you want,” which happens here, ranging from pop-ready technofied hip-hop, to old-school afternoon funk by J Dilla acolytes, to some seriously out sounds. It was the late Dilla’s birthday (February 7) that this particular week’s battle coincided with, and today, February 10, is the fifth anniversary of his death, but his influence would have been heard no matter what the calendar read. He hovers over a substantial number of submissions every week.
There’s a special pleasure to just listening to one remix after another, each snagging different parts of the original — a drum sound here, a peculiar inaccuracy in the vocal here, a tiny rifflet there — and making new wholes from them. Here are a handful of favorites from the week 205 bunch:
Thingkyng‘s is something of a suite, opening with warbly, reverse-time samples, moving into a stuttered vocal snippet. It may make better use of the voice than any of the other entries:
OLOS‘s is a minimalist delight, this razor thin spring-like sound set on repeat against a thumping bass:
The track by uPprhand is the most blatant in its affection for Dilla, who is named repeatedly against a bleat beat that gets sliced with tiny little vocal bits, those narrow moments jutting in like stray memories. It’s a great effect put to good use:
While its stroboscopic back’n’forth can be a bit hard on one’s sense of orientation,a heavy thump of a beat centers everything on G.HahD‘s entry, along with ghostly vocals and a distant wood block:
“205” by Jondis has the most swing of the bunch, a loping swell that has your head bouncing side to side, using the original material in a manner that may be familiar in its structure but that rejuvenates the form by dropping in unlikely sample selections:
For more, check out the discussion as the various renditions were uploaded, and read up on the voting process. Since around October 2010, all of the beats have been flowing at soundcloud.com (they were previously located at drop.io, which is now defunct).