Unearthed: TNGHT EP
Posted in Unearthed
The Future starts TNGHT
The hip-hop world has a hard time with "supergroups," mostly because they don’t exist within the context of rap music. There have been plenty of great collaborations between A-List talent, and even a few excellent groups formed by those talented individuals. But I’m not sure they would consider themselves a supergroup. As a genre, hip-hop praises a collaborative spirit. It’s rare to see an artist drop an album or mixtape that doesn’t feature a guest verse from another rapper, or a beat from an outside producer. In a sense, every album put out by modern hip-hop artists is the work of a supergroup.
Rock music, on the other hand, praises the vision of the individual above all else. Artistic vision drove apart the Beatles, and has motivated every member since to pen a solo album no one wants to hear. Hip-hop is on the opposite end of the spectrum; collaborations between MCs and producers are the foundation of the genre. The vision of the individual is surpassed by the quality of the final product. The invisible nature of production and beat making allows anyone to collaborate without losing too much street cred; i.e. an unknown Clams Casino rose to prominence sending beats to Lil B on MySpace. You just aren’t going to see Thom Yorke collaborating with some kid he met on Facebook.
Hudson Mohawke and Lunice are both wildly inventive producers, and TNGHT is a testament to the beautiful things that can happen when you put two great minds together. The five tracks featured on TNGHT EP are, for lack of a better word, explosive. At times they overreach, but that only adds to the appeal. There’s something strangely satisfying about listening to beats that try too hard. It’s the aural, less trashy equivalent of watching a dozen stock cars reduced to scrap on the last lap of the Daytona 500 because a driver thought he could move up a spot by going three wide into a turn. It’s a beautiful disaster.
Furthermore, there are parts on the TNGHT EP that are so overdone it’s almost comical. Closing track “Easy Easy” is about as weird as hip-hop can possibly be. It’s hard to imagine just any old rapper spitting raps on top of it, and maybe that’s the point. Only a gifted MC could handle these beats. TNGHT approach hip-hop from an intellectual bent, channeling the heady vibes of UK bass music into the confines of southern crunk. The Lex Luger influence is definitely there; 808s and 909s run rampant throughout the tape, and Luger’s signature build up is copped on more than one occasion. But amidst those decidedly American drum sounds sit sophisticated bass vibes, holding down the bottom end with an air of old world erudition.
In the end, the one thing I’m sure of is that I want to hear more from TNGHT. To my ears, TNGHT EP is not a definitive statement, but the sound of two gifted producers finding themselves in each other’s music. Though I was initially put off by it, “Easy Easy” has become one of my favorite tracks to drop in recent months, if only because I don’t understand it. If Animal Collective decided to make hip-hop, I’m pretty sure they would sound something like TNGHT. Like all instrumental rap, the lack of a vocalist has an active role in the listening process. Your mind is left to fill in the gaps, which can be a trip if your head is anything like mine. I’d love to hear someone go over these beats, just so I could begin to make heads or tails of them. I keep coming back to TNGHT because I don’t understand what I’m hearing; the beats on TNGHT EP are living, and continue to evolve even as you listen to them. If this is the future of hip-hop, I’ll be getting high off dreams of tomorrow. Here’s hoping.
Purchase TNGHT's debut EP now on iTunes