Beans - Tomorrow Right Now [Warp Records - 2003]Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful world of BEANS, aka Mr. Ballbeam. Hip-hop rebel. Wordsmith extraordinaire. Sonic architect. Fashion renegade. Published poet. Culture star.
You probably all heard it already, that the ultra-progressive hip-hop trio Anti-Pop Consortium is no more. But lucky for those who picked the Arrhytmia album up, the rapper & lyricist Beans decided to continue with Warp Records, and now Tomorrow Right Now is in the stores. If you expect something like the Anti-Pop Consortium with the playful electronic production you’re not entirely at the right place tough.
It quickly becomes clear that the beats and sounds supporting the raps are not of a high level. The computerized rhythms are chaotic in a discomforting way and not interesting to the ear. As for the innovation you would expect from a former member of a hip-hop collective that successfully build a bridge between hip-hop and Warp Records-electronics, forget about that. The electro bleeps in Raping Silence and the spacy effects in Sickle Cell Hysteria are hinting that Beans is at least trying, but succeeding is another thing. Another example is the human beat box in Crave; a nice idea, but again it doesn’t sound nice. The instrumental Rose Perriwinkle Plum is one small exception.
But it’s not all bad, bad, bad. In fact, Beans as rapper in not less than amazing. In the opening tracks Roar and Phreek The Beat, the latter with a catchy girl chants (and released as promo single), he shows that he’s absolutely brilliant when it comes to lyrics. Instead of rhyming all possible words he sets for the monologue and freestyles and squirms around the beats. By using different rhyme schemes and his unique voice that was already very present with the Anti-Pop Consortium, he has his own style, which is of course a solid base if you’re going solo. He doesn’t use too many samples either and that’s something quite remarkable about this release.
Since hip-hop is rooted in the electronic music scene, many producers are going back to this type of genre-combining and start to experiment more and more. Beans’ experiment is courageous, and perhaps motivating for other artists to play with laptops, but it is clear to me that he’s still in one’s infancy. We’re hoping for a revolution, but I’m afraid we’ll have to wait a little longer...Justin Faase