I don't remember when I first came across DDay One's stuff; I used to spend hours and hours scouring rap blogs for new shit and just hoover it all up. See, I came up in the record store days with no pockets. I'd agonize over which records I could afford to buy, and dream about being in an endless record store where they had everything and you could listen to anything. Hey presto, papi: internet.
I got really into instrumental hip-hop a couple of years ago, and it seems like the '00s were definitely their peak period. Problem has always been separating the great from the meh. Partially, we got eighty gazillion Japanese DJs putting out so many instrumental jazz-hop LPs you could have a whole website built around nothing but. Led by the late Nujabes and Fat Jon--to get opinionamated now--this shit mostly sounds the same, goes for the noodly-sounding bullshit, and when it does get a groove on ruins it with pathetic flute loops or weak-ass female vocal hooks. And the beats? The beats are weak as fuck. Some of it is good, no doubt, but it's not head-nodding.
Remember when illbient and trip-hop were actually a thing? That made it easier, I guess, because the line's really blurred between 'electronic' and 'instrumental hip-hop.' If I'm on the fence, I listen closely to the beats. Do they go dit-dit-dit-dit-dit? Electronic, get the fuck outta here with that. Do they go boom-bop-bop-boom-bop-bop-boom? Hip-hop.
DDay One was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He has a double major in hip-hop as a turntablist and samplist. He also has a minor in graffiti art (as do most b-boys), noticeable by his signature. His obsession with manipulating vinyl records started in the early 1990′s, when at the age of 11 he began exploring the depths of Los Angeles' thrift shops and record stores.
Without a sampler at the time, his first compositions were made by engaging in sessions of "dropping the needle" (placing the needle repeatedly in the same spot of a record to emulate the repetition of a break in a song) and repeatedly looping the desired sample segments on a tape deck. After using this method of creating beats and amassing stacks of records from years of beat mining, he furthered his manipulation of vinyl and love of music by utilizing the sequencing capabilities of a sampler.
Whoally shit. This is one of those records I didn't know I'd been waiting for until I'd heard it. Taking on the dusty analog sound of old jazz records, weaving together jazz' ability to move you and also mourn, DDay One doesn't just move the soul but the body. Because the beats? The beats are hard as fuck. The way he constructs his beats is really his greatest talent--the way he uses them as a real instrument, not just an underlying loop.
DDay lays down recognizable hip-hop loops, African layers, ambient noise...but I would say through it all runs an obvious primary influence of be-bop jazz, on which he's both building and commenting. There's tracks like 'Seeds of Revolution' which come from some mystery 196X, where rock & roll never happened and jazz just kept growing and the first MPC has just hit the scene. It's the fat basslines, ma. It's those warm, unprocessed pianos. It's the scratching. This is chill and head-nod isht, in actual fact it moves more than it cools.
I like a good amount of instrumentalist stuff, it's part of a complete breakfast, but not many artists have such a defined sound that can't be mistaken for anyone else--let's give them the French honorific of instrumentaliste. There's a distinct warmth and depth to DDay One's tracks which doesn't just come from their whole origin in vinyl samples, but some other alchemy from the man's fingertips as well. They are whole and organic in a way that makes them feel more recorded in session than built of samples.
A lot of instrumentalists--and there are more these days than you can shake a bandcamp at--don't get that a loop is not a song. A song builds, fades, weaves, ducks, bobs; elements are played off each other, there are counterpoints and melodies. DDay One knows this.
The '00s era of strong instrumentalists seems to have ended, and for me a handful have stayed relevant, had their sound stand up and stood out--I'd put DDay One in the crew with Mumbles, Villain Accelerate, Sixtoo, Odd Nosdam, PSY/OPSogist and maybe a handful more. He keeps it fresh on his Rhythm Incursion podcasts as well.
Loop Extensions Deluxe drops soon. Peep it out, you cannot miss.