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Beans

End It All

Rating 2.9/5.0

Label: Anticon

One time Anti-Pop Consortium member Beans (NOT Beanie Sigel, I’m sure I saved myself a handful of comments with that one) has always fallen on the avant-garde end of the hip-hop spectrum. Even sharing the stage with the likes of Missy Elliot and indie darlings such as Edan or the Definitive Jux roster, he’s worn his methodology on his sleeve, marching to the very different beat of his own MPC. With abstract imagery and complex concepts as his calling cards, Beans’ spot on any tour or label has usually been that of the outsider. However, in 2011 he finds himself linking up with the exponentially experimental outfit Anticon, shifting his standing to both an elder statesman and a straight man. Unlike the label’s most known releases, often boasting rappers who intentionally don’t rhyme or follow a beat, his new home has found Beans taking among the more traditional approaches of his career. This is what is consummately cutting-edge about his new album, End It All.

What separates End It All from the rest of Beans’ catalog is that this is his first release with exclusively outside production. The method to his madness on his other albums has largely stemmed from his rhymes and beats sparking from the same bonfire, allowing the listener to really get inside the man’s head in terms of his artistic vision. Here, instead of being a passenger, Beans has outright taken the listener hostage as, with guest producers such as Four Tet, Clark and Interpol’s Sam Fog driving the getaway cars, he can focus on squeezing any and all of his ideas into his writing. At 33 minutes, a lot gets covered and while that leads itself to warrant repeat listens, it does muddy a bit of the experience. While longtime Beans fans know, as a contemporary of Company Flow and the Fondle ‘Em era of rap innovation, his rapid-fire approach to rapping a run-on sentence Indy 500 is for a very deliberate reason, newcomers or the uninitiated Anticon-loyal might not know what to make of his never-ending pasta-bowl of words. It does seem like Beans, particularly with how the album is mixed, is packing rhymes into the beats like sardines into a can. While this isn’t particularly a new style for him, the soundscape his guests create is largely a minimalist one, bringing his flow to the forefront which places the responsibility on his vocal performances to make or break each record.

While the title, label and The Social Network-lampooning cover art may seem like End It All might be an overly serious affair, Beans’ charisma drives the project as a steadily enjoyable listen. “Deathsweater” is as catchy as it is cynical, “Air is Free” is a universal rallying-cry and “Superstar Destroyer” is Beans’ braggadocio battle rhymes at their bourgeois-belittling best. Sure to please fans and hold them over until the newly announced Anti-Pop Consortium reunion record, End It All is as straight-forward boom-bap as Anticon releases get. While he’s missed behind the boards, Beans’ writing is sharp as ever, filling a much needed niche of non-stop New York neurosurgery rap.

by Chaz Kangas

Key Tracks: Deathsweater, Glass Coffins

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