K-Pop Beyond The Charts is a weekly review column highlighting Korea’s modern day musical innovators who have yet to find mainstream success.
It’s damn near impossible to describe in words what makes a classic hip-hop beat, but musically it seems to have something to do with simplicity–being able to hear simple elements, a repeating bassline, an openly voiced piano chord in a different way than you ever had before.
What often gets lost in the discussions about the golden era of rap, the 1990s, was that it wasn’t just the amazing talents of MCs that turned a generation of suburban white kids into lifelong fans, it was also the music.
Anyone lucky enough to have been an underground rap fan in New York City in that period will remember the feeling when every week seemed to unearth a new song that didn’t just melt your mind with the rhymes. When producers like Pete Rock, The RZA and Ali Shaheed Muhammad are all at the top of their game, propelling their respective MCs into the stratosphere with beats that reinvented the genre, how can you be surprised that a generation of kids turned from Telecasters to Technics?
It’s not that “Bentley,” the leadoff track on The Quiett’s latest album “1 Life 2 Live,” released on Oct. 15, is a throwback track, but the way the South Korean rapper-producer turns elemental parts from each instrument into a perfectly sculpted work of art is what makes it a clear homage to the early hip-hop production ethos.
It’s also arguably what makes it his best track to date.
Anyone familiar with The Quiett, probably knows that his voice is normally surrounded with high-speed hi-hat and heavy-handed keyboard parts. In addition to the undeniably strong beat on “Bentley,” or more likely because of it The Quiett delivers a performance that is a strong contender for his best. His rhymes are catapulted to the next level when there is enough space on the track to actually hear them.
If this talented artist could strip his sound down like this for an entire album, the results could potentially change the game, just like those early masters of the 1990s.
Listen to “Bentley” the opening track on South Korean rapper The Quiett’s album “1 Life 2 Live” RIGHT HERE