Happy New Years, y’all. I hope everybody had a great holiday season reigniting old feuds with family members and high school slam-pieces and whatnot. However, as fun as I imagine that was, 2015 is now here and waiting for no man, woman, or child, which means that the good folks at JamFeed are back under pressure like fat girls in gym class, working hard to bring you that music world news we know you need.
Since you’re reading this article I am going to make a couple assumptions. First, I assume that you are my friend. Second, I assume that because you are my friend you spent the last days of 2014 rekindling your passion for The Wire marathons, this time in glorious HD quality (thank you HBO… just… thank you). My personal favorite season of my favorite TV show would have to be the third one. Season three is packed with so much drama and tension that I can’t even begin to try to describe how impossible it is for me to merely watch one or two episodes at a time.
One of the main plot lines of the season revolves around the growing power struggle between Baltimore’s drug lords to maintain territory and product following the demolition of the infamous “Towers.” The Barksdale Organization are still major players on the city’s West side, of course, as is Proposition Joe on the East side. However, what really throws a wrench in Baltimore’s kingpin lineage is the introduction of one Marlo Stanfield. Young, entrepreneurial, intuitive, and flat out merciless, Stanfield is out to get his at all costs.
There is a scene in the second episode of season three when Stringer Bell sends Bodie, the most promising street lieutenant in the Barksdale Organization, to find out what Marlo actually looks like. When Bodie reports back with no leads Stringer asks him how hard he is actually looking for him, implying that sometimes the answers are right in front of our faces all along.
That brings me to the point of this article. Can you remember the first time you heard Jay-Z’s The Blueprint? For those not familiar (I hate you FYI), Blueprint was not only heralded as the best Jigga album since Reasonable Doubt but one of his three best of all time and an unquestionable hip-hop classic. Perhaps just as importantly, Blueprint marked the true rise-to-stardom of two of hip-hop’s greatest production minds – you’ve probably heard their names tossed around once or twice: Just Blaze and Kanye West.
Amidst some fire numbers courtesy of The Trackmasters, Timbaland, and Eminem, Blueprint contains five Kanye beats and four Just Blaze beats, all responsible for marking a new age in hip-hop production and sparking a fire within Jay-Z’s gut that managed to bring out some of his most inspired lyricism to date.
However, if Just and Ye represent the Avon’s and Prop Joe’s of Blueprint’s sonic Wire-narrative, there is a third character in the mix here that we are forgetting about. Just as Stringer told Bodie to refocus his search efforts in order to find Marlo, I now urge you to peep the production credits for The Blueprint once more and come face-to-face with the name of the man who played nearly as pivotal a role in the album’s creation as his superstar peers: Bink! (exclamation point is not a typo).
For fourteen years now plenty of rap fans have assumed that the Blueprint classics “The Ruler’s Back,” “All I Need,” and “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)” were either Kanye or Just productions. Hell nah, trick. Bink! was on that soulful shit just as hard. And unlike Yeezy, who seems to exclusively stick to GOOD Music family beats now, and Just, who has taken a hiatus these past couple years, Bink! is still lacing spitters with heat to this day.
Armed with a diverse audio palette capable of producing bangers for underground and mainstream artists alike, as well as a total WTF-inducing name (you mean to tell me a man named ‘Bink’ with an exclamation point at the end made this beat??), Bink Dog has been one of rap’s best kept secrets for quite some time now. So without further ado, I present to you my fifteen favorite Bink! beats.
15. Kool G Rap f. Prodigy – “Where You At” (2002)
One of Bink’s strong suits is his ability to flip gentle soul samples in ways that bring out a certain hard-bodied aggression. This standout off of G Rap’s oft-overlooked Giancana Story LP does so masterfully by lapping up wailing blues guitars over tight snares and punctuating them with echoing vocal moans in precisely the right spots. G Rap & Prodigy do the track justice.
14. Pusha T – “I Am Forgiven” (2013)
The outro to Pusha’s excellent 2013 mixtape, Wrath Of Caine, “I Am Forgiven” is the perfect backdrop for an ex-hustler to ask forgiveness for his sins. Opting to slow the pace down to a smoldering crawl, Bink! gives King Push just the right amount of soulful angst for his deliberately simplified flow to hit hard on every bar. It’s no coincidence Pusha starts the song off with “this track dictates everything I’m supposed to say.” Indeed.
13. Xzibit f. Anthony Hamilton – “The Gambler” (2002)
All the best producers know that sometimes the best strategy is simply “less is more.” On “The Gambler,” Bink! utilizes this with near perfect results. He loops up some epic rolling horns with a start-stop drum pattern and lets Xzibit and Anthony Hamilton handle the rest. I can’t forget about that funky ass flute though, good lawwwwd flute game got me like: .
12. Mystikal – “Mystikal Fever” (2000)
Mystikal could do no wrong at the turn of the century. “Mystikal Fever” is a very underrated song, and understandably so, as it appears about halfway through his most successful album, Let’s Get Ready, which also had “Shake Ya Ass” and “Danger” on it. Nevertheless, this shit jams hard. Bink! captures all of Mystikal’s combative angst by letting him loose over a stabbing horn line, hard as nails drums, and some subtle bells in the background.
11. Tony Williams f. Kanye West – “Another You” (2012)
Obviously a rap producer this soulful would have no problem creating an R&B classic. The bouncing bass line and funky guitar riffs at once support Tony’s melodic crooning and Kanye’s playful bragging to create a deeply layered, fun, modern soul record that can really be played nearly anywhere, for any occasion. The piano breakdown in the middle is pretty epic, too… and so is the remix with King Chip and Freddie Gibbs.
10. Jay-Z – “The Ruler’s Back” (2001)
Y’all knew one of those Blueprint records I was talking about was coming sooner or later. Well here it is, the intro to the album, a larger-than-life interpolation of Slick Rick’s classic of the same name. Over some crispy snares and hi-hats, coupled with deep smooth bass and an absolutely monstrous ensemble of trumpets, Bink! gives Hov everything he needs in order to do what he does best… which is bite other rappers’ flows (haha JK… but seriously). Anyways, I don’t think there was any question as to whether Blueprint was going to be a problem or not after this introduction.
9. Hit-Boy – “Jay-Z Interview” (2012)
What is the hottest in-the-moment producer to do when he needs the people to know that he can rap too? Well if your name is Hit-Boy and the year is 2012, you recruit Bink! to handle the beat for you. Hit-Boy let loose for nearly three minutes on this triumphant banger of a rap introduction, and by the end he basically had me sold on his rhyming skills. It’s just too bad the rest of HITstory didn’t sound like this.
8. Method Man & Redman f. Ghostface Killah & Raekwon – “Four Minutes To Lockdown” (2009)
As if to remind everybody that he can still produce classic East Coast bangers with the best of them, Bink! lets four of the Eastern Seaboard’s most storied MC’s put in work on one of Blackout! 2’s standout tracks. The Funk Docta, the Chef, and the Ticallion Stallion all do their best over the frantic horns and vocal samples, but it’s only right that they let Pretty Toney handle clean up duties. Ghostface goes entirely lollipop dum-dum over a track that would sound perfectly at home on literally any of his albums. Mission accomplished Binky ol’ boy.
7. Lost Boyz f. A+, Canibus & Redman – “Beasts From The East” (1997)
Before getting down with the Roc-A-Fella fam in the early aughts, Bink! got his start in the mid-to-late 90s cranking out boom-bap slappers for the Lost Boyz. “Beasts From The East” is one of those beats that pretty much any rapper can sound dope on, and they all do. However, it’s an up-and-coming Canibus that knocks it out of the stratosphere, melting the microphone for 50 frightening bars of wack rapper terror.
6. Drake f. J. Cole – “Jodeci Freestyle” (2013)
Remember that one time Drake put out four new songs in one night and if you weren’t crying yourself to sleep while listening to “The Motion” you were randomly texting people ‘BANDO BANDO!’ while listening to “Versace?” Well “Jodeci Freestyle” might be the best one out of the four, and yes, it’s a Bink! beat. Although I don’t believe for a second that this is a “freestyle,” Bink! creates a perfect landscape for two of the game’s current heavyweights to navigate their way through a seemingly endless sea of fuckboy-ish lames and thottish bitties. At once pensive and powerful, Bink! hits it out of the park with this one. If only the sound quality was a little bit better, I can’t stand that crackling…
5. GZA – “Animal Planet” (2002)
Ah, this takes me back to high school. Over a backdrop of soothing strings and angelic “ooooh’s,” GZA waxes poetic about the perils of life in the concrete jungle, tying in themes of ghetto life with spot on animal metaphors. It’s just smooth enough to zone out to, but just hard enough to heed the gravity of the Genius’ words. On a sidenote, J Dilla rapped over this beat for an unfairly short one minute and twenty seconds, on a song entitled “Diary,” that was to be a part of his still unreleased Pay Jay project from 2002.
4. Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek & Freeway – “1-900-Hustler” (2000)
No question, this is one of the standouts off of Jay’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia project. Jigga, Beans, Bleek, and Freeway (on his introductory verse to the rap game) man the phone lines together, pitching advice to would-be hustlers going through problems in the drug game. This is one of the first examples of what would become Bink’s signature sound: blaring horns, frenetic vocal samples and tight snare and hi-hat kits.
3. Rick Ross f. Masspike Miles – “Cigar Music” (2009)
Oooooh weeeeeee! This is the type of shit that just makes you want to pull those gators that you don’t have out of the closet and drop the top on that coupe that you can’t afford. There’s only a handful of producers that can create compositions that make you as the listener feel way cooler than you actually are. Bink! is one of them. Quite simply, “Cigar Music” sounds like what I imagine they play at the gates of Heaven upon your entrance… if God turned out to be the smoothest player to ever don a fur in the summer time.
2. Jay-Z – “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)” (2001)
Let’s go back to when The Blueprint was originally released, before the days of digital downloads and streaming. In the year 2001 it was not very uncommon for artists to tack on a couple “hidden tracks” to the end of their albums. Blueprint is one of those albums. Nowadays, “Momma Loves Me” is the thirteenth track out of fifteen, followed by “Breathe Easy” and “Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix).” However, back then, when CD’s were still the popular media of the day, it was in fact the album closer. The latter two tracks were hidden at the end of it, and you had to let the CD play for a couple minutes to find them. They were intended as bonus material. That being said, my point is that “Momma Loves Me” is the proper finale to The Blueprint. And oh my, what a finale it is.
As Bink! beats tend to do to artists, “Momma Loves Me” brought out Jay’s versatility in a powerful way. It’s a simmering banger, slow and deliberate, soulful and hard, with enough empty space to emphasize Jay’s lyricism and have fans stuck on his every word. The lyrical content reflects this. Hov masterfully switches tones between reflective, humorous, stubborn, arrogant, and bashful with ease, riding the track into the sunset. It’s a perfect album closer, and to this day I still put it after “Breathe Easy” and “Girls (Remix)” on my playlists when I want to listen to Blueprint all the way through.
1. Kanye West f. Rick Ross – “Devil In A New Dress” (2010)
“Devil In A New Dress” might just be the most important song on what many consider to be Kanye’s crowning achievement, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In my eyes, at least, it is the album’s climax. After Yeezy spends the preceding album space coming face-to-face with the demons that have held him back, exploring various constructs of his own influence on both the people around him and the media, realizing what it is he needs to focus on, and lambasting those that dare go against him, he finally meets his match on “Devil In A New Dress.” A frighteningly gorgeous, dangerous, intelligent, and unpredictable woman – a mirror of himself in female form, the culmination of his beautiful dark twisted fantasy.
“Devil” is the only song on MBDTF that has no production or co-production from Kanye himself, and for good reason. The Bink! opus speaks for itself. It contains many aspects of Bink’s production style that I’ve talked about in the previous paragraphs – the strings, the guitars, the celestial voices, the tight drums, the haunting piano breakdown, at once coming together in climactic harmony – all that is missing are the triumphant horns. But Bink! knew that this was no time for triumph.
Rather, this beat represents the innermost struggle of a man under fire, uncertain of the path he walks but unwilling to stray. He is confident enough to walk it, yet scared shitless of what he will find. He has gone through so much turmoil and answered so many questions about himself, yet that one lingering requirement remains. He needs this woman in his life, and in the back of his mind he knows what is going to happen in the end, but that is neither relevant nor realistic at the time being. If you were faced with the chance to finally confront your fantasy, would you walk away? As long as “Devil In A New Dress” was playing in the background, I don’t think there’s a shot in hell you would.