Release Date: Feb 15, 2011
Record label: Anticon
While his previous effort, Thorns, offered "I'm the Ornette Coleman of this rap shit," End It All opens with rapper/producer Beans declaring “I never lost, I’m still the boss/Because I’m a champion” as if avant hip-hop ever doubted it. “Superstar Destroyer” is, in many ways, a standard issue rap album-opener with boasts, insults, and challenges directed toward the competition, but anyone who has listened to Beans or his Antipop Consortium crew knows this literate wordsmith is no standard-issue rapper. Here, he at least plays with the idea for just over half an hour by letting outside producers bring the beats, although with names like Four Tet, Clark, and Interpol’s Sam Fogarino behind the boards, the results are atypical.
As much as any other MC and producer in hip-hop, Beans is an auteur. With Anti-Pop Consortium and across a series of solo records, Beans has honed a signature futurist style typified by intricate fast-talking raps and steely, minimal beats. And while he often raps about the same subject matters as the multi-platinum artists-- his exquisite and expensive taste in apparel, his prowess both on the mic and between the sheets-- he does so in ways that are consistently disorienting and inventive.
If I’d chosen a member of Anti-Pop Consortium to get a prominent solo career, it wouldn’t’ve been Beans. I was always a High Priest partisan, since his morose, deadpan hum and lyrical Afrofuturism fit so well into my personal constellation of science-spiritual desolation. Back when the band broke up nearly a decade ago (they’ve since reunited), Beans seemed a little too close to the self-congratulatory bombast of the rap mainstream; he occasionally rapped, for instance, about what he was wearing and/or drinking.
Beans has no use for the concept of a “bar”. If he’s in the middle of a thought at the end of a bar, he’s gonna finish that damn thought. If he finishes his thought in the middle of a bar, he’s gonna start a new one immediately. What Beans creates is slam poetry at least as much as it is hip-hop.
In a world in which increasingly unusual hip-hop acts garner greater amounts of attention, the unpredictable, unusual founding Anti-Pop Consortium rapper Beans is kind of a forefather. While he may not have been dropping rhymes about silent letters in pasta varieties, he certainly wasn’t talking about getting shot nine times either. His drive for minimalist style was complemented by rapid-fire rapping as well as collaborations with everyone from eclectic electronic producer Ghislain Poirier and No Wave honcho Arto Lindsay to Chicago jazz living legends Hamid Drake and William Parker and influential instrumental hip-hop producer DJ Shadow.
The press release for the new Beans record had me salivating at first glance – his first set to be made up of entirely guest productions, featuring the likes of Four Tet, Clark, Tobacco, Tortoise and Son Lux. I wondered how this would translate into a coherent whole, and shortly after decided that the words should stitch it all together nicely. Beans' stuttering staccato flow has always been a defining feature of his 'alternative' take on hip hop, admittedly allowing him to pack a lot of words in, firing them out at a speed that makes them nearly incomprehensible on first listen.
Ambitious, and brilliant, fourth LP from the New York MC. Mike Diver 2011 Robert Edward Stewart (the second), aka Beans, is one of rap’s finest tongue-twisting purveyors of befuddling non-sequiturs, brain-bumping intelligence and booty-moving beats. Yet the New Yorker remains an underground attraction, three solo LPs before this one released via Warp but – despite the label’s fine reputation – failing to fully connect with the mainstream.
Though he'll rock a tight staccato flow at the drop of a hat, Beans' bread and butter comes when the New York abstract rapper abandons all regard for standard rhythmic patterns and unleashes 13 words where seven would usually fit. Such outbursts come with deft frequency on Beans' Anticon debut, End It All, a tongue-twisting exercise so densely packed that Beans himself probably doesn't know how many diatribes made the cut. Over trademark minimalist, futuristic beats coming from a stable of 12 producers – though End It All doesn't lack for a steady mood – Beans spins his own story from the Anti-Pop Consortium narrative, boasting ("Not materialistic but my material is sick," he raps over syncopated steel drums on "Deathsweater") and dishing real talk on the industry.