Terrace Martin tears it up on 'Melrose' and elsewhere
Last year, few producers could match the prolificacy of Terrace Martin. He released a collaborative EP with Frank Nitt, a full-length with Kurupt, and a Marvin Gaye-inspired record called, "Here, My Dear." And that was in addition to the dozens of beats he farmed out to other rappers.
But less than a week into 2011, the Locke High School graduate has also staked the new year as his own. His first salvo was "Melrose," a collaboration with venerable underground hero Murs that found the pair "taking a ride down Melrose Blvd," eating at food trucks, flirting with beautiful women, and hanging out with Barney, the Purple Dinosaur. Just a breezy afternoon with 6-foot-tall prehistoric beasts, shutterbug tourists and Lala's Chicken -- one that racked them up 13,000-plus YouTube views in less than 48 hours.
Able to shift effortlessly between the former Fat Beats set and the MTV crowd, Martin has collaborated with Snoop Dogg since at least 2006's "The Blue Carpet Treatment." So it was only natural he enlisted the Long Beach legend for "Exersize," a track on next month's "Sex EP." The pair's natural chemistry reveals itself immediately, as Martin offers Snoop keyboards brighter than the Staples Center, plus auroral flute trills. The beat rolls like a Sunday afternoon Crenshaw Boulevard blunt cruise, and no one handles that terrain quite like Snoop, who kicks his effortless flow, complete with Morris Day and the Time and Rock the Vote references. To its credit, it would've worked in 1991, 2001, or right now.
But perhaps the hardest of the bunch is "Thirsty," a collaboration with highly touted Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West protege CyHi Da Prynce, which takes aim at haters "always acting funny, but have no money." Over sax riffs that reference Martin's past as a jazz prodigy (he was chair of the all-state jazz band in high school), Lamar absolutely incinerates Martin's beat and validates the praise being thrown his way (Dr. Dre recently went on Power 106 to tout him as his favorite local rapper).
Beyond the fact that they're good songs, what's most encouraging about the tracks is that for the first time in recent memory, West Coast rappers seem more interested in collaborating than staking their own separate paths. For most of the last decade, the local ethos seemed more consumed with getting money than regional solidarity and like-minded collaborations.
Between these cuts, the forthcoming Black Hippy full-length and the rise of other locally-based young talents such as Blu, Odd Future, Knux, Freddie Gibbs, Nocando, Open Mike Eagle, TiRon, et al, West Coast rap seems to have finally lifted the albatross of being exclusively gangsta or underground. None of these artists can be easily pigeonholed, nor do they buy into old orthodoxies, and we're that much better for it.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Terrace Martin. Credit: Terrace Martin Myspace
MP3: Terrace Martin ft. Kendrick Lamar & CyHi Da Prynce-"Thirsty" (Left-Click)