August 21st, 2010, MidiEast studios in Alexandria, VA. A place with many different hats (the business has many other functions, such as a barbershop and a multimedia marketing arm) has become the setting for Uptown DC’s Kingpen Slim and his latest work, The Beam Up 2. His manager, P Stew, is out front cooking out for the attendees while Slim and producer J Buttah (along with the studio’s staff) try to get everything set up for the listening session. As we approach the start of said event, everyone (including myself) are all pretty attentive to the breakdown of what we are about to hear. And those who are reading this are probably laughing at the fact that I’m making this sound as if I’m about to hear The Blueprint 4.
All jokes aside, throughout said listening session I did my best to capture each song to the best of my ability (as well as the explanations of the music from Kingpen Slim and crew). I was going to do a drawn out preview, but I believe it will be more effective if I just post my notes (part of me wishes I just did this as a live blog, but quite frankly, I was way too engrossed in the musical orgasm I was experiencing. Pause). So, with that said, let’s get to it, shall we?
The album is 15 tracks deep (12 tracks, with 3 bonus tracks), of which we heard all but one (the one we missed out on was the Gone remix with Malice). Most of the tracks were produced by J Buttah, with additional contributions from the likes of Mark Henry (no, not Sexual Chocolate) and Best Kept Secret (if you’ve listened to Wale’s The Mixtape About Nothing, then you should be more than familiar with them). His biggest introductory statement dealt with wanting to basically take his next Beam Up installment both further and in another direction from its predecessor. It was also noted that this album took him about a year to complete in comparison to 2 months for the first album. Any other information in particular was given in between songs.
The intro is called ‘Brand New Day’ (there is a feature but i missed the name, sounded like he said “Median”, no doubt I’m probably wrong) [This was later corrected as Midian]. Comes off somewhat like John Legend’s ‘Ordinary People’. Pianos come in heavy off break, base heavy, great voice from the feature. Talks about continuing his path, making it, adversity that’s he’s faced. There is a voicemail included from his grandmother where she is reading a prayer. Live instrumentation from flute and saxophone.
‘Big’ is the next track, was apparently inspired by Life After Death (so is it actually titled B.I.G.?). This record was produced by Trilogy. Recording of Biggie starts it off, heavy orchestrated opera type vibe follows. Synthesizer heavy, airy keys, “big cars, big rims, I’ma do it big” on the chorus. A lotta of bravado, Slight singing on bridge near the end.
Early thoughts are that this may be the greatest album I may ever hear from a local artist. Just giving you my thoughts. Moving along…
‘Gone’. Definitely familiar with this one. Very powerful record, personally very bewildered as to why it didn’t catch fire in the clubs, on the radio or on TV (though I have an idea, lack of support from DC area radio for a start).
‘One King’, he pretty much explains it as him having that respect for his peers in general while still destroying them. Starts off with a wah wah guitar (perhaps?), kind of east Hip-Hop feel with heavy bass. Talks about “standing alone, I’m on my own, there can only be one king”. Followed by P Stew sports analogy.
‘My Life Is A Movie’ is The Jim Jones track from the Ghost of Rich Porter, although even better because the track heard on the Jim Jones record had one verse from each, whereas this version also has two additional verses from Kingpen Slim. He speaks on his meeting Jones in New York, playing him beats, Jim loving this particular one. Beat holds similar vibe to previous track, talks about true life, his own, in general. Sick break down in production for chorus. References to casino “it’s a cold world like winter”, ginger, etc.
Speaks on next song, called ’21 Gun Salute’, being based on the situation in Jamaica regarding Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke (which makes this a favorite, as it hits close to home), likens it to Fabolous and Junior Reid’s ‘Gangsters Don’t Play’. Starts with news reports on Dudus. Heavy bass, DJ/toasting on chorus and bridges by Edley Shine (of Born Jamericans, remember?). We of course heard this track in a recent video trailer.
Very big reggae vibe, dark but powerful melody.
‘Bulldozer’, gets into his playboy shit, version we hear isn’t finished (as I update this all after the fact, i believe this may be one of the few tracks DJ Buttah stopped and replayed so that we could hear the final version). Definite southern/strip club vibe, “let me take your clothes off” in chorus. Hoe theme, stunting, definitely should be played in a strip club. Someone singing for bridge and choruses, heavy synthesizers, drums reminiscent of classic Timbaland.
‘Cologne’, produced by Mark Henry, grown man fly shit. Very old school vibe (what sample is this?). Drums very heavy, though not as bass central. Each verse describes his feeling, illustration of a cologne he’s using, very creative.
‘Goosebumps’, tried a whole new flow (though you still know it’s him), comes in R&B like. Singing on chorus, more grown man shit, ladies will love it. “Give you goosebumps when I’m pulling on your hair” on chorus. P Stew calls it a smash hit record, placement, ad-libs, everything well placed (I’m no veteran on the radio but I agree).
‘For The Win’, they submitted it to ESPN, band horns start it off (I think they said Mark Henry did this?) Big school band sound (think ‘Drumline’), chanting on chorus, “the win, the win, the win…” Dancing by P Stew to illustrate record. Lots of sports analogies, could definitely see this on ESPN or, quite frankly, a Skins game.
Best Kept Secret production, ‘Toast’, talks about celebration, popping champagne. Uses the same sample as Ludacris and Common’s ‘Do The Right Thing’. My favorite on the album hands down. Plenty of punchlines, great lyricism.
Outro (12 tracks–I see everyone’s going for the shorter albums now, just a thought I had at that point). DJ Buttah made this beat 6 years ago, has live instrumentation. Song is the closest thing to a gogo vibe as far as drums, but defintely not a gogo record in the least. The beat continuously evolves upon further listen (you kind of see this in his production throughout the album. Ridiculous saxophone solo. P Stew explains how the intro could be outro and vice versa, further expounds by speaking on how everything stays continuous with the album.
Extra notes: there will be a Beam Up 3 to finish out the trilogy. Cringeworthy reference to “DMV” is made.
First Bonus: ‘Parties All The Time’. Party track (duh), drum and bass heavy, parties all the time loop in the background. Could be in the clubs like ‘Gone’ should’ve been. Produced by Cash Flow.
Second Bonus: ‘The Way You Move’. We heard this one already. Group cut with STS, Wale & Phil Ade. Nice old school sample, definitely uptempo. Welcome addition of STS, heard plenty of stuff from him (Sole Music), best known for his Roots collaboration (Right On). Everyone kills it lyrically, and I mean everyone.
That’s it. Beam Up 2 drops 8/31. My personal rating? It’s hard to give anything a perfect 10 score without sounding as if you’re bias (like I really give a shit), so I’ll give it a 9.999998. It’s that good. Hopefully we’ll score an interview in the near future.