Experimental hip hop

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Experimental hip hop is a style of hip-hop that refers to the experimental use of structural elements outside of hip-hop considered unconventional within the larger hip hop music genre. Definitive Jux, Anticon, Big Dada and Ninja Tune are experimental hip hop and acid jazz labels. Experimental hip hop is usually electronically produced and incorporates turntablism. There are many artists that introduce acoustic elements to the genre to enhance the ability of being played live.


Experimental hip-hop production is highly eclectic. Influence is drawn from almost every genre of music. There are elements of Electronic Music and Dub, as well as the use of rock, soul, reggae, classical, and jazz samples, among many others. Experimental hip-hop production expands on the sounds of early 1990s hip hop such as Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and The Pharcyde to name a few.

One of the most influential pioneers of experimental hip-hop production is James Dewitt Yancey, better known as J Dilla or Jay Dee. The two main elements of J Dilla's style included sampling and non-quantized drum rhythms. Sampling, or the use of phrases or stabs from other music, is the basis of Hip-Hop production and is a traditional technique. However, J Dilla's way of chopping samples was unique and highly innovative, mostly finding insignificant elements and small phrases in the music to turn into the main melody. Non-quantized drums are another trademark of J Dilla's style. Quantization refers to the editing technique used in programming drums, wherein each drum hit in the pattern is locked to a rhythmic value on a perfect grid. While some experimental hip-hop does use quantized rhythms, the vast majority of it does not. Dilla was a pioneer of this technique and is notorious for not using quantization. He played out his drum rhythms by hand on the pads of his Akai Music Production Center (MPC). This gives his music the effect of having a natural groove or swing, as if a real drummer had played on it. Some more recent producers who are noticeably influenced by this sound, and use similar drum programming techniques include Madlib, Flying Lotus, Karriem Riggins, and Hudson Mohawke. Other legendary producers who are often cited as influences for experimental hip hop include DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, Hi-Tek, Pete Rock, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest.



Kid Cudi performing at The Kaul Haus in Toronto Canada

Avant garde hip hop, or "avanthop", is a style of experimental hip hop that retains rapping. The origin of avant-garde rap is unclear. De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising could very well be seen as hip hop's first experimental album for its innovative use of different samples and sounds. Today backpackers view the Anticon collective's Music for the Advancement of Hip Hop album as the first true avant-garde or experimental hip hop LP.

Leftfield hip hop[edit]

Leftfield hip hop is a fusion of rap and electronica, characterized by extensive use of computers, and hence primarily studio-based (as opposed to live performance).[1][2]

Psychedelic hip hop[edit]

Psychedelic hip hop is a style of hip hop music characterized by complex sample-based beats, often obscure material, and witty, abstract lyrics filled with far-out references. The first examples of this style is some of the more obscure sample-heavy hip hop experiments of the late 1980s. With De la Soul's 3 Feet High And Rising (1989) and Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique (1989) being examples of such. Another key figure in the development of this genre[citation needed] is Kool Keith of The Ultramagnetic MC's and his many releases under various alter egos, which include "Black Elvis", "Dr. Octagon", and "Dr. Dooom", all employing a very cartoonish and bugged out lyrical style resembling that of MF Doom.[citation needed] Fel!X is also a strong pioneer of psychedelic hip hop, specialising in translucent beats and released an album known as "oxford commas". Madlib is perhaps the most important contributor to this genre, with his releases as Quasimoto (also known as Lord Quas), releasing works such as The Unseen (2000) and The Further Adventures of Lord Quas (2005), and his collaborative work with MF Doom under the Madvillain moniker, in which they released the collaboration called Madvillainy in 2004. Kid Cudi's third solo album Indicud released in mid 2013 was self produced featuring psychedelic work, even its main genre is psychedelic and alternative music, including many rock elements. Mac Miller's second studio album Watching Movies with the Sound Off contained elements of psychedelic hip hop.

The California-based hip hop and rock group Kottonmouth Kings have called their genre "psychedelic hip hop punk rock".[3]

Notable performers[edit]


  1. ^ Left-Field Hip-Hop, All Music
  2. ^ The Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words: Over 10,000 Common and Confusing Words Explained, p. 143
  3. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Biography for Kottonmouth Kings". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 

See also[edit]