Classify the enigmatic producer deadxbeat’s instrumental snippets as “hip-hop” and technically, you’d be correct. But à la DJ Shadow’s classic Endtroducing, that label also falls short of fully capturing the essence and vibe (npi) of Vibescapes (originally released in 2014 but recently reissued by Chicago’s Blvnt Records).
Or maybe it makes you realize just how limited the term “hip-hop” has come to be understood in this present day and age.
Yes, these twenty-one tracks are filled with solid beats and “gangsta” samples that often seem like they’re just waiting to have an MC drop rhymes over them. However, there are also trilling orchestral arrangements (“blissful”), Avalanches-esque whimsy (“vibin’”), and funky, soulful interludes (“breezin’,” “bump’d”). More importantly, the entire album is drenched in a gauzy, blurry ambience.
That, combined with its sketch-like nature — only a handful of these songs cross the two-minute mark — gives Vibescapes an otherworldly, dream-like quality. It paints a picture of urban environs that are plenty gritty and dangerous, but as tracks like “inscape,” “rhythmic.law_,” and “humbled” evidence, also filled with moments of contemplative and serene beauty.