Beans featuring William Parker and Hamid Drake



    Never one to adhere to staunch, formulaic routine when making an album, former Antipop Consortium emcee Beans aims to surprise — again. Taking a step aside from Warp Records, the New York-based art-school rapper has collaborated with two avant-jazz masterminds in bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake to create a genre-blender drink of sorts.


    Released by Thirsty Ear as a contribution to Matthew Shipp’s Blue Series, Only would sit nicely beside Antipop Consortium vs. Matthew Shipp or William Parker’s 2001 LP, Scrapbook. The disc is never quite a hip-hop record (the first rhyme doesn’t appear until the three-minute mark of the third track) nor is it solely a jazz outing: It’s simply a distinct, musical expression full of pensive tension and Beans’ usual acidic, “must-listen-twice-to-understand-it” rhymes.


    It’s unfortunate that, because it’s hard to classify, the LP will not garner the attention it deserves. The dissipated distances between the emcee’s performances and the instrumental portions of the disc will probably exclude the portion of the population looking for consistency. That said, this is one of the album’s best charms: It leaves the listener intrigued to know what is going to happen next. Beans, Parker and Drake have painted a surprisingly warm picture with a vibrant palette of sound. Here’s hoping it influences other emcees and jazz performers to stretch their musical boundaries a bit to create more outstanding albums such as this.