“Sounds like the early 90s,” “Vintage” & “Boom-Bap” are phrases often used nowadays in an attempt to describe modern music that is reminiscent of hip-hop’s golden era, more specifically the sound of late 80’s and early 90s sample based rap. Using those exact phrases to describe K-Def’s Tape Two instrumental project is fitting on many levels, not only because the audio on this album fits the description, but because the tracks contained were actually made during the late 80s / early 90s by an ambitious young man from New Jersey known as Kevin Hansford aka K-Def. When you listen to these beats, please keep in mind that these pieces are sourced from an old cassette that was recently rediscovered. What you hear on this project is actually coming to you straight from the early 90s via a lost & found beat tape recorded during Def’s formative years as an artist.
These days a lot of artists attempt to emulate the sound and the style pioneered by artists like Primo, Rza, Large Pro and yes even K-Def, but their intentions are usually more retro than real. Veteran hip-hop producer K-Def has been “making beats” for well over 25 years, way before the term “boom bap” was ever coined and before any rap producer opted to make instrumental albums. Back then, bulky machines like the SP1200 and MPC60 were used not because of their “gritty” sonic texture, but instead simply because those particular samplers offered new and innovative ways to manipulate sounds, making production accessible to folks who otherwise might not have access to a full band or recording studio. Those 12 & 16 bit sampling behemoths allowed guys like K-Def and Primo to combine and reprogram audio sourced from vinyl records into thundering new instrumental compositions. Thanks in part to his musical background as a DJ & Dancer, combined with a little bit of networking, K almost instantly went from dreamer to doer. The story goes something like this: in the early 90s, K-Def created a handful of beat tapes that started to circulate the NY/NJ area via his network of MCs, quickly reaching the ears of production mastermind Marley Marl. Def’s big break came when his cousin passed a tape to Marley, who immediately recognized that this particular young man from Jersey had the “skills to pay the bills” as they used to say. Marley wasted no time making the drive from NY to NJ, arriving straight at K’s front door, offering him the role of in-house producer at the legendary legendary house of hits! The rest is history (check K-Def’s full discography which is brimming with hidden gems and certified rap classics featuring the likes of Ghostface, Real Live, Lords of the Underground, Tragedy, LL Cool J and others).