The news that Montage One had just released an original single from his next album onto the hip-hop scene is good, indeed. He’s representative of the new breed of rap artist where innovative sounds, literary-worthy lyrics and unique vision are parts to the whole machine. I feel bad saying it, but with lesser artists, it's common to end up with two out of three.
By that I mean Montage One stands out from the impressive population of hip-hop artists out here in California because with his music, it’s not just the words, as much as I like them. Sure, with Montage One lyrical excellence is pretty much a given. Hip-hop is defined by rap, which is delineated by poetic genius. If you cannot compose rhymes that reference modern concepts listeners can relate to in fresh and inventive ways, you will be lost against the thousands of other voices that sound just like you who are also operating in the industry.
“Beat2Def,” Montage One’s latest single, is a solid piece of work. The title alone is worth the price of admission. “Beat2Def.” I’m going to beat you to death. Better yet, these beats are def. No, wait, these beats are so def that you will literally have your music sensibilities beat to death by the power of this song’s coolness. Better yet, on one hand this song has beats, but on the other hand it's def. Word up to Montage One for bringing back one of my favorite 80's hip-hop slang terms.
But “Beat2Def” is also a solid song, even without the lyrics. I’m a listener who has been enjoying this stuff since Yo! MTV Raps. I was jamming to Easy E in junior high. Kool Mo Dee still makes me become very quiet out of sheer respect for the magnitude of philosophy he put into every rhyme he wrote. Sure I love the Beastie Boys, but I really wish people talked about 3rd Bass more. I remember buying Ice-T’s singles on cassette tape at Music Plus, when they came in little cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic. You gotta work hard to impress my experienced tastes, sorry.
So I was very pleased with how Montage One’s single delivered because of the instant, classical vibe it expressed in the first few seconds. I mentioned old-skool rap in the last paragraph to underline how pleased I was with hearing ice cold, completely groovy, 70's funk-worthy organ tones with so much soul all you can do is listen.
At that point the song could probably jet across the stratosphere on it's own, but the MC's choice to throw in 80's-worthy scratching effects was impressive. I was suddenly back in junior high, listening to Herbie Hancock's "Rockit." Remember how fucking cool that song was the first time you ever heard it? That's ok because with "Beat2Def" the scratch is back, a parallel and contrast to the luscious tones coming out of the synthesizers. Producer Jlisted has done some great engineering, here, and the diligence shows.
This was gratifying because when it comes to singles, there are rules. It has to be representative of what the artist has done and can do. When "Shadrach" came out as a single before Paul's Boutique, you knew the Beastie Boys were making a promise to you that their album was going to keep. I remember listening to "Higher Ground" before Mother's Milk came out, relieved that the Red Hot Chili Peppers next record was going to rock.
Let's face it, we like the artists we listen to and all of us attempt to preach accordingly. I had a few friends over, and to show off Montage One I blasted "Beat2Def" as loud as the rattling windows would allow. They were totally won over by what they were hearing. A proper single should do that.
Ras Kass and Guilty Simpson brings some serious heavy artillery to the song, too. This is in addition to the cuts being performed by DJ Revolution. Part of why "Beat2Def" has so much power is because of the talent that's been packed into it. You have to respect lyrics that combine references to Nebuchadnezzar, the regenerative power of amphibians and the prowess of MMA superstar Randy Couture, plus flying saucers. You probably have to replace the batteries on your thesaurus after composing something like that.
If the single is a promise of things to come, 10.6.3 OGX looks guaranteed to make it one hot autumn. The LP is set for release on September 11, 2012. If you like what you hear, you can find it all here.