BEeFF's West L.A. swag rap aims to crack top-10 lists with a David Letterman-obsessed mix
The press line holds that Odd Future emerged amoebically off the floor of the Supreme Store on Fairfax Boulevard. The truth is more complicated. The last 36 months has seen Los Angeles' hip-hop splinter into half a dozen or more sub-categories, many of them tangentially linked.
Over the last decade, Stones Throw built a kingdom of loudmouthed left-field weed rap that laid the groundwork for both the Low End Theory and Odd Future. While the West Coast gangsta archetype grew stagnant, both J Dilla's "Donuts" and Madlib's mad scientist subversion helped define the West Coast post-"Chronic 2001."
Between the lax medical-marijuana laws and the surfeit of sunshine, the city has redefined its own space-case sensibilities. There is the lunar skinny-jean rap of the jerkin' kids and the subsequent "Dougie" and "Cat Daddy" dancers; the messy grooves of Blu, The Knux, and Overdoz; the more traditional cutthroat stoner rap of Co$$ and the Black Hippies (Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and Schoolboy Q), the next generation Blowedians at the Low End (Busdriver, Open Mike Eagle, Nocando, et al). Plus all the acts associated with the OFWGKTA umbrella.
You might not like all of them, but there is a reason why the left coast is commanding a sizable chunk of the national dialogue. At a time when many often mistake the weird for the wonderful, there is nowhere else churning out such eccentric hip-hop.
Slot West L.A.'s BEeFF into the discussion as more post-adolescents influenced by the anarchistic styles of the moment. Affiliated with fellow Westsider, the Def Jam-signed Mann (he of "Buzzin'"), but also influenced by the gonzo rap of Berkeley's Lil B, BEeFF's second release, "David," takes a weird fascination with David Letterman and goes from there.
The one-liner on their Bandcamp page distills the record: "This is our second EP. It is insane." First track "Post Apocalypse" finds them shouting out cowboys, Flying Lotus, every female, swag, thrift stores (never retail). Second track "Spinach" has a video that isn't safe for work but includes Mickey Mouse, moon boots, David Letterman, marijuana, UFOs, cooking dances. By track four, "Paul," they are flipping Kanye's "So Appalled" beat and advocating "putting your hands in the air for growing out your hair."
Download BEeFF's mixtape (Warning: There is objectionable language.): BEeFF - David EP (Left-Click)
Within a diffuse crowd, BEeFF are a strong and singular addition. They make self-deprecating, occasionally chopped-and-screwed rap about sex and smoking weed, and never take themselves too seriously (their previous EP was called "All Style, No Substance"). They don't fit at all, which is why they do. They rap well, their beats are good, and they're original. They even flip Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." and shout out the sorely missed "after-hours M Bar." They might not be ready for prime time yet, but they're definitely ready for late night.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Cover of BEeFF's "David E". Credit: BEeFF