December 20, 2012

The 10 Best Filipino Beat Tapes of 2012

As far as texture, sample flipping and creativity is concerned, young Filipino producers have finally stepped up their game the way it’s expected of them, putting fresh, innovative spin on beatmaking microtrends while also stamping a personality that would distinguish their work from other aspirants in the scene. Beat tapes or hiphop instrumentals, as what they’re called, offer a closer look at the production trends and techniques helmed by beatmakers at their most inspired studio hours.

Oftentimes, we chose to ignore the people behind the sickest beat that propelled that big, gritty rap song to a chart-topping smash, or sadder than any fate, fail to acknowledge their contribution to hiphop or music, in general. But this time, we strongly feel the need to pay homage to these trailblazers, those that showed range and talent as an artists’ artist, and those that spent grueling hours perfecting the craft in two minutes of spastic builds and ricochets. And 2012 is the year when young producers—either in the hiphop or electronica mold—took their chops to an entirely invigorating level, showing the world that the next Flylo and Dev Hynes might just be living here, tripping on beer, bleeps, and beats.

10. L. Yap – Home Made Beats

Jazzy rhythms crackling over vinyl. Bluesy guitar licks filtered in boom-bap canon. Home Made Beats is an EP that thrives on vintage sounds of pure, unabashed beauty, splintered with laid-back hiphop beats to capture a more casual feel. It’s an easy listening piece that blurs the borders between urban music and chill-out, coming off as early morning sunshine served in your dose of sleepless, nocturnal nights.

9. Ize – Mists and Mixed Feelings

Production styles especially in hiphop/electronica have mutated into stranger and sparser directions, moving in no discernible pattern. Ize’s Mists and Mixed Feelings belongs to this new wave of nocturnal daydreamers, concocting a minimalist throb that feels as if it’s being drawn into the light.

8. Kirvy – vol.two

Music website, Potholes in blog described Kirby’s vol.two beat tape as a record that “explores cutting-edge sonic space juxtaposed with familiar classic acapellas, showing that while the North American West Coast might be ground zero for forward-thinking futuristic hip-hop beats, Kirvy’s Philippines might not be as far away as they seem.” And they’re indeed on point: vol.two offers a series of urban-knocking cradlers that sound more like boombap abstracts than actual songs. This record is best played at 3 AM in the morning while you chill at the balcony wearing nothing but after-sex undies.

7. Obi.von – Melt

As a product of his intercultural exposures and travels, Obi.von’s Melt flips the meaning of “world music” into a jungle of otherworldly chaos and order, moving in transient speed as it snatches every possible sonic remnant it could get from the places he visits, molding it with fluttering effects and jagged drum sequences to give it a more twisted vibe.

6. 500 – Moon Unit

Few records this year have done such a remarkable job wringing intricate, challenging concepts out of minimalist soundscapes. 500’s debut beat tape Moon Unit achieves that kind of awesomeness with confidence and commitment in his vision, showing us his “clear and positive approach to life” through spectral shapes and fragments that echo post-Dilla hiphop or Flylo sheen, the third world way.

5. Suhnraw – Soul.

The accessibility of home recording meant that everyone with internet access and gear can be a record producer, but majority of these aspirants can’t pull off magic they way it should be brewed and done. Fil-Am bedroom producer Suhnraw proves that there’s more to the art of production than being outstanding and inventive. On Soul., every palette and sonic washes simultaneously roll toward you, connecting on an emotional, soulful level without being completely immersive.

4. Justin de Guzman – Maschine

Maschine feels like late night ruminations, a cocktail soundtrack that you play once in a while to cover up your loneliness. The straightforward beats provide a striking contrast to the jazzy, mellow rhythms and spaced-out abstractions of every track, adding pizzazz to an otherwise purple-hued canvass. But it’s the minimalism that Justin weaves into the mix that makes this compilation of beats and scrapes, an interesting banger. It’s so subtle that you have to pay close attention in order for you not to miss out the details and nuances instilled in this breathtaking concoction.

3. Eyedress – Nature Trips

In the constantly shifting world of instrumental hiphop and IDM where trends seem to expire before you’ve finished drinking your second bottle of beer, Eyedress' psychedelic Nature Trips offers an earthy package that fits both esoteric dancefloor and mood-time, countryside driving—soundscapes, that when perceived abstractly, unravel a world where you don’t have to end up worrying much about anything at all.

2. B-Roc – This Is Your Captain Speaking

“This isn't about technical skill, the beats were made to breathe a little. Allowing each listener some room to think and feel,” producer-extraordinaire B-Roc shares with local hiphop blog, Soulfiesta in a short but sweet, self-curated note. And he is damn right: over minimalist beats and soul-inflected samples, he fires his own gun with bullets of a craftsman, hitting both nuances and emphasis in a single blow while others struggle to do it in their overly stylized, heavy-handed approach. B-Roc, as usual, knows his way out because the game is his own piece of puzzle, teaching us a thing or two about hiphop production 101, the basics of it and the sharper grounds that he redefined through time and experience.

1. Similar Objects – Synchronicity is the Norm

Jorge Wieneke is more than a product of internet buzz and hype. He’s a dope, forward-thinking beatsmith that dwells on the artifact of sounds, carefully dissecting and restructuring its layers to create some hazy form of pastel-painted, esoteric energy. Sychronicity is the Norm, his best work since last year’s Finding Astral Lovers is a collection of ambient, abstract and urban sonic reels, built over chopped recordings, sedated synths and trippy basslines that are intertwined and integrated to cause friction or tension, a nasty-beautiful one to be exact. On Synchronicity, Jorge trades laptop blues for sampler intimacy, his approach forging deeper connection with the music he samples on turntable and the fragments that it has turned into.


  1. Some on the list are on my favorite top 10 songs. :)

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