Knxwledge Hud Dreems

[Stones Throw; 2015]

Styles: instrumental hip-hop, beat tape
Others: Ohbliv, Madlib, J Dilla

In and amongst the digital wreckage of the internet, the beat tape has gained considerable stock as a release mechanism, chiefly by placing a premium on the virtue of incompleteness. Prolificacy is a given in the beat tape-verse; finding a definitive release within the torrent of streams and uploads is almost besides the point when keeping updated with it all is a relative challenge in itself. Glen Boothe, who produces under the Knxwledge alias, is a living, breathing testament to the beat tape ideal. As the heavily-stacked Bandcamp page attests, closure isn’t exactly his endgame when it comes to releasing music; he blurs any traditional notions of music consumption, dropping projects in myriad forms and guises as and when it suits him. The double-cassette Anthology, released in 2013, consolidated Boothe’s rather daunting body of work by reducing it to a decidedly more manageable set of 53 choice cuts, providing a paradoxically complete snapshot of a career in constant flux.

It’s been roughly two years since Anthology, and Boothe has gone from strength to strength, all while retaining a workmanlike approach toward creating and releasing material. He’s crossed over into footwork in collaboration with Cakedog (a.k.a. TMT favorite Ahnnu) as Vatogato, demonstrating that his ear for loops and melodies extends well beyond his established domain. He also has production credits on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, a monolithic record in every sense of the word, and undoubtedly the biggest public exposure to Boothe’s music thus far. With this sudden surge of interest, as well as a feverish captive audience hanging on his every Bandcamp upload, the release of Knx’s “full-length debut” Hud Dreems couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

As Knxwledge releases go, Hud Dreems is nothing too atypical, harnessing the well-traversed beat tape template and letting it sprawl across a runtime just shy of 40 minutes. Boothe conjures a sonic tapestry of dense beats and obtuse samples that veer off in different directions, often within the tracks themselves; it might come off as slapdash and lax were it not so calculatedly busy and self-contained. Even so, therein lies a peculiar unity between the album’s constituent movements. Whereas previous releases demonstrated little to no regard for continuity, the seamless sequencing of Hud Dreems is telling of Knxwledge’s finely honed touch as a producer. Disparate snippets and a veritable gamut of influences — pop culture, R&B, and old-school hip-hop (witness the Mobb Deep sample on “mydesire[fortwin][vanuys]”) — all coalesce into an immensely pleasurable, if somewhat unsurprising, listening experience.

Truthfully, Knx’s endeavors here fall a little short of the isolated moments of brilliance scattered throughout the rest of his catalog. But when said catalog is as daunting and insurmountable as Knxwledge’s is, the effort taken to crystallize his distinctive production tics into a digestible album form comes as a welcome one. The beat tape methodology rarely produces a finished statement, and in a way, it’s an approach that suits the artists (and listeners) operating within its sphere; by shunning this in favor of coherency and finality, Hud Dreems duly fulfills its billing as a bona fide album and simultaneously presents a new one-stop shop for one of the most relentlessly creative beatmakers in the game.

Links: Knxwledge - Stones Throw

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