Beans

Tomorrow Right Now

When Anti-Pop Consortium called it quits last autumn, plenty of hip hop fans had reason to mourn the New York trio's passing. The crew had been one of the brightest lights in the underground, offering rock-tweaked rhythms and a three-pronged lyrical delivery. But Anti-Pop fans can breathe easily now, because the Consortium's first spinoff -- former member Beans' Tomorrow Right Now -- is easily as good as anything the defunct group turned out.

The disc's also quite a bit stranger than even Anti-Pop's unusual output. Despite the record's home on U.K. electronica label Warp, Tomorrow Right Now avoids obsessive-compulsive laptop production in favor of blunt, almost primitivist drum-machine programming. In contrast to the sleek, super-produced hip hop churned out by the hit factories, tracks like "Phreek the Beat," "Roar," and "Hot Venom" sound deranged, unstable, and ready to fall apart at any moment.

As a vocalist, Beans snaps back and forth like a tightly wound metronome, occasionally flipping his words into elliptical orbits. He compensates for his music's minimalism by letting his voice roam through the openings, painting blank spaces with long vowels and clipped consonants. Not that the record's all cadence and no content. Beans shows his debt to the Lower East Side's spoken-word scene with "Booga Sugar," an ominous a cappella confessional in the voice of a weed-smoker-turned-crackhead. Other tunes are far more convoluted, though, and beyond the choruses listeners may put in some serious effort extracting couplets from the crunch. This style is intentional, however, as the MC suggests on "Crave": "A deeper sense is what the listeners crave."

His voice darting throughout his rhythmic logic, Beans clearly revels in controlled chaos. But instead of relying on a wall of samples the way Public Enemy did, he weaves dense curtains of sound out of drum-machine hits, rim shots, and teakettle whistles. Individually, these elements might sound thin, but together they form a formidable, armor-plated vehicle for Beans' heavy-gauge raps. With the Consortium a thing of the past, consider this one-man army a Coalition of the Illing.

 
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