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Beans: Only (2006)

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Beans: Only How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Arguably the best thing about jazz is its lack of definition. Like punk rock, almost anything can be considered jazz—as long as there is an element of "the real" throughout the music. Antipop Consortium member/rapper Beans uses this to his advantage on Only, again experimenting with pushing the boundaries of modern jazz and hip-hop. He fuses both with electronica and in the process creates an underground record that works best when listened to in a single sitting, rather than as individual tracks. (Beans is obviously aware of this fact, as all tracks simply bear numbered titles: "Only 4," "Only 56," etc.)

Drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker handle their tasks like the pros they are, providing Beans with a steady rhythm and backdrop for his futuristic outlook. Longtime Antipop Consortium fans might argue that the lack of actual rapping on Only detracts from the album's marketability, but the synth-heavy "Only 7," which includes a slowed down rap (not to mention fantastic drums), should please Beans' diehard fans. Similarly, "Only 4" showcases Beans' mainstay talent best with an almost free-flow rap over low-key keyboards and subdued bass and snare beats.

However, Only meanders a bit at times—the repetition on "Only 3" gets old rather quickly, but Beans is a master at his craft and doesn't let it get stale for long. "Only 71" sounds more like an Future Sound of London track than actual jazz, and Beans' nine-minute "Only 20" is the the closest kin to a jazz standard that he allows on the record.

Overall, Only seems more improvised than remixed, and this fact seems to reinforce Beans' goal—to push the envelope further with each release, to try something new, and make sure that each instrument (human and musical) is integral in the collaboration. His music may not appeal to closed-minded jazz afficianados, but it's tough to argue that the idea behind Only isn't what jazz is all about.

Track Listing: Only 5; Only 1; Only 7; Only 4; Only 3; Only 71; Only 118; Only 20; Only 56; Only 198

Personnel: Beans: mixing/rapping; William Parker: bass; Hamid Drake: percussion.

Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Style: Fringes of Jazz


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