Friday, July 15, 2011

Producer AMP Channels His Inner DJ Premier

9TH WONDER presents THE SOUL COUNCIL from Pricefilms on Vimeo.

One of the most basic ways an up-and-coming Hiphop producer can separate himself from the throngs of Johnny-come-new jack beat makers is to carve out a unique sound that is immediately recognizable to the listener regardless of the rapper or singer.

And, as it turns out, another way to do so is by crafting your style around a sound that's associated with a more established producer. Well, for the most part.

If I may (since I, ahem, don't actually know the man), please allow me to formally introduce Amp: one-sixth of The Soul Council -- a collective of producers assembled by 9th Wonder for his It's a Wonderful World Music Group and Jamla Records imprint -- and, more notably, the man who has successfully mastered the art of consistently crafting DJ Premier-style beats.

No disrespect intended, but if I took the equivalent of The Pepsi Challenge with a Premo beat and the right Amp beat to choose between, I might be stumped for awhile.

From Premier's signature cuts, scratches and chopped up samples to his quirky, random noises, every element of a classic Premo-produced song are key ingredients in the recipe for many of Amp's hot tracks.

I know I've made a big deal in the past about my intolerance for biting, but with every rule comes certain exceptions. Much like we love to see Kobe's best imitations of Mike that still amaze despite ultimately not measuring up to the the originals, we Hiphoppers remain suckers for Premoesque tracks.

Some are better than others, but all, in my opinion, are valiant efforts. 

For one, that sound instantly makes whoever is rapping sound exponentially better than they normally do. For some rappers, this is merely an enhancement. For others, it's completely necessary for any relevance

Herein lies the genius behind that coveted sound that Premier pioneered. And that is why so many artists regardless of genre either aspire to or have worked with DJ Premier.

However, Amp isn't a one trick pony. He displays a variety of styles for his production with all of the Jamla artists, but there is no escaping the fact that he is heavily inspired by Premier, a suspicion that's confirmed in the above video (starting at 3:45) when he says he likes "to keep it in the vein of one of my favorite producers, DJ Premier. That’s like one of my big influences.”

But while Amp has shown that not all of his productions are created in the Premo mold, he is still very much reliant on the Premier-invented technique of cutting and scratching samples on the hook for most of his beats.

All artists need to be allowed room to grow, and, similar to 9th Wonder's journey from initially being dismissed as a wannabe Pete Rock/Dilla hybrid before further developing what has now become his own signature sound, I expect Amp's ultimate progress to lead him down a comparable path.

Here are some of my favorite tracks produced by Amp that capture the classic DJ Premier sound. Enjoy.

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