Silky Johnson: Hater of the Year Mixtape Review
My introduction to Silky Johnson came via a comparison to my favorite beats producer du jour, Clams Casino, which is a risky way to find out about a new artist. Positively, I sought out this free beat tape from an artist that I ended up liking quite a bit. But on the worrisome end of the spectrum, this mixtape, in my mind, was competing with the amazing Rainforest EP and Instrumentals LP that Clams Casino released last year (the latter comfortably snuggling into my 10 favorite records of 2011).
My disdain with most current rappers has led me head-on into beat tapes, and Silky Johnson’s is one of the most fun tapes I have heard recently. Not as dramatic as Dilla or weird as Madlib, Hater of the Year is a joyous, silky and lush collection of __ jams. Album opener “Fuck the Money” is all arms-in-the-air euphoria, while other tracks range from the slippery groove of “Everything” to the stuttering beat and dark soul samples of “Fast Life.” The thing I like most about Hater of the Year is that it never feels like just a collection of his best beats or a hollow cadaver in search of some thick rhymes. The rich collection of songs stand up by themselves, although I am sure more than a few rappers would love to jump on most of the beats. While there is a lot of pretty standard “rap” beats, there are also songs like “Felicity” that meld clapping beats and lush synth flourishes in the style that makes Clams Casino’s work so appealing.
Many rap beat tapes can sound like they are either just songs scrubbed of vocals or tracks that really need a vocal hook to drive them forward. The best beat tapes are stand-alone efforts that don’t need anything but the music to tell a story. They are the kind of tracks that if, say, Ghostface, Black Thought, or Brother Ali jumped on them, yes, they would sound great, but the rappers would just be icing on the cake. Hater of the Year meets those standards in spades and is a highly enjoyable, fully realized beat tape that will put Silky Johnson on the map. You can stream the tape below. Otherwise, he is giving away the record for free download HERE.