by Tony Diamonds
Eklectic is a Santa Cruz, California native who studied Jazz Improv/Music Theory and has opened for the likes of Big Mountain, Ozomatli, Les Nubians, Chali 2na, and Eddie Roberts. He has most recently produced tracks for ex-Stones Throw member Dudly Perkins (AKA Declaime). As a hip hop producer, Eklectic definitely has a directly accessible style that most should find enjoyable. Peep this review on his latest instrumental joint Freedom In Thought to help determine if you want to add his beats to your collection of dope hip hop to bump.
We get a variety of samples, classical music to smooth jazz, to funk and reggae over mostly head nodding boom bap drums. His drum choices are great - even the softer, less hitting kits are well chosen. Many times the main samples feature some cool delay or flange/phase type effect. Freedom in Thought has very clean EQ for the most part, which adds a smooth flavor to all the beats. I heard lots of horns throughout the album, so if you like horn samples in classical as well as other styles, you'll like the sample choices a lot. There are also a few mellow guitar and electric piano sounding instruments as the album progresses. I heard a couple quirky non-boom bap drum patterns (like on Synaptic Response) and some hand claps starting to get used about a third of the way into Freedom In Thought. On occasion, the drum buildups can be a little cheesy, consisting of simple tamborine or jazz rides, but overall the sample chops are varied enough to still make the beats feel like they're going somewhere.
Most of the time when I hear the words "instrumental hip hop", I think trippy hip hop-esque beats that you probably wouldn't want to actually rap over. Eklectic does much better for all you rappers on this album, because Freedom In Thought's beats are actually good beats to rap over rather than straight instrumentals. The mostly boom bap patterns with a variety of simple samples and sparse, funky basslines are something that any aspiring MC could get behind.
Most of the highlights for me come towards the end with the DOPE dreamy sample on "In The Mood", the bappin drums on Daydream and the dope overall sound to Clarity (that sample and the drums all together with the bass is just WOW, very well done). Overall I feel like Eklectic has a fresh style that ties in enough "classic hip hop" type elements to keep listeners nodding their heads without getting bored. It does help that most of the tracks are less than 2 minutes, which helps a lot on instrumental albums to alleviate potential abandoment partway through each song. Overall I'd recommend giving Eklectic a listen whether you're an aspiring MC or just want mellow yet fresh underground type hip hop beats to vibe to.
Thus concludes this Eklectic Freedom In Thought review. You can peep the album yourself on here: Eklectic - 'Freedom In Thought'. Also be sure to check out some of my other hip hop reviews here: Hip Hop Reviews