Heres the thing about instrumental hip-hop albums. Unless the artist is able to separate their rapped-over beats from their inner musician, its gonna be a slow, tough listen. Its been achieved time and time again J Dilla, Madlib, Kanye West. But by and large, the standard beat created for the sole purpose of being rapped to oftentimes lacks any artistic emotion on the producers part. The light is cast on the rapper, the production takes a simplistic backseat.
When that light is cast solely on the producer, it can be a make-or-break moment artistically. And lets be real. Theres a lot of instrumental hip-hop that borders on drivel. Even some of the greatest artists tend to drag, usually due to a lack of having a gauge for quantity over quality. Thats where Lazerbeak fails on his latest solo effort, Lava Bangers. Thats not to say that the Doomtree collective producer didnt create something of quality; there is some great shit on there. Smooth joints like Walk It Out, Thimble Man, and the insane album closer, Lift Every Voice, could sit easily next to a Madlib beat. Sometimes its got a Flyling Lotus edge to it, sometimes a sensible Jay-Z via Kanye West-produced soul sample, but its solid stuff.
As a musician, Lazerbeak has managed here to achieved separation and do a fair bit of greatness in terms of pure musicianship. But exploring as a musician doesnt mean you have to include every stumble along the road. It would have been advantageous, in hindsight, to have trimmed this record back a few tracks. But that can be said of much instrumental hip-hop, or of hip-hop in general. As for Lava Bangers, its a bulky 20 tracks only for the hardest core of Doomtree fans.
Essential Tracks: “Walk It Out”, “Life Every Voice”