To remake a classic sound through modern instrumentation takes time, vigilance, and a stance on working to create a mosaic-esque fashion. It takes the pieces of yesterday, repurposes them, and shifts them to fit a modern mold. This mold can be shown on Beauty & The Beat, the 2005 project coming from collective Edan.
Not to be confused with Pittsburgh and I.D. Labs producer, E. Dan. Edan Portnoy who is better known as his performance name of Edan, is an American hip-hop artist that attempts a different approach at traditional record-scratching and progression. Beauty & The Beat is the direct extension of years of practicing to splice the sounds of randomized funk samples and chord movements in a genre-less mix. It uses guest vocalist Insight, Mr. Lif, Dagha, and Percee P, rhymers who are known well in the underground shadows of avant-garde hip-hop.
Sounding more as a stance on the fast pace working of funk, but forming the backing of 90’s boom-bap; Beauty & The Beatholds this merit to experimentalism in style. It plays incredibly loose and turns the listener into a victim of unstructured ability. The album runs as one continuous working song that forms each separate track into different journeys. There are not much breaks in the actions coming from Edan as the direction is constantly in a free fall throughout the 13-track course.
With “I See Colours”, to then “Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme”, to finishing with “Promised Land”, there is always something that fractures up the balance of either fast paced car chases, to the glory-filled mountains and valleys of sound here. The emotional clash that appears causes this dissonance between the listener and the sound. Rather than becoming this inviting mix, the options switch quickly and act almost as flashing pictures. Similar in fashion to Clockwork Orange’s brainwashing tool, Beauty & The Beattakes an organic style and manipulates it to become almost non-human. The lyrics are presented so quickly, over these psychedelic sound frames that the various sampling and words mash together.
This style is hard to understand at first, aggressive, but ultimately an original sound that becomes a standing monument in the crowd. As “Torture Chamber” floods into the frame, it samples this overbearing crashing of what sounds like horrid screams and door slams that act as the bass of the track. It becomes a tingling frame that uses vinyl crackling and these suspicious strings to form an instrumental. It is purely evil, synthetic, but intriguing and ultimately engaging.
From the ugliness of the sounds of death, to the beauty of the final track, “Promised Land” there is something here that every hip-hop head can feel and move their body to. It invokes the head nods with the banging percussion that booms over the sinister chords, but also moves the hands and closes the eyes on the glorious string progression. Edan holds this clouded vision on the listener, making them feel every hit, every grace, and every movement made within Beauty & The Beat.
There are moments of pure hell, moments of despair, the moments of the true darkness behind sound. Then there are the moments that raise Edan to an almost clairvoyant status where the listener can feel the sunshine and the real sense of magnificence in the non-vocal extensions.