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The beat-tape has always been an integral part of hip hop. Comprised of beats – or instrumentals – that can stand alone or be enhanced when rapped or sung over by anyone who can get their hands on a tape, beat-tapes are like the spine of a genre.
It comes as no surprise then that, particularly to those music lovers who don’t care too much about pop culture, the creators of these tapes (although,this year it would be fair to call them CDs or another digital term) are revered. British producer and DJ Eric Lau (pictured) has made a name for himself in his home town and beyond through beat-tapes, excellent mixes and collaborations with singers and rappers.
You may know him for his The Mission EP with rapper Guilty Simpson that released this year, but there’s no need to fret if you don’t know him. Brought to the masses by the Unlearn Agency and Midnight Marauders, Lau will play live at Beat Dimensionz this month.
Beat Dimensionz, which is a monthly event, puts the spotlight on electronic hip hop and this month the event will take place in Cape Town this Friday and in Joburg on the following Friday.
Having re-leased a critically acclaimed debut album, New Territories, in 2008, Lau has entren-ched himself in hip hop culture and has produced for, or toured with, everyone from Lupe Fiasco to Dudley Perkins.
His beat-tapes, Makin’ Sound and Quadrivium have also increased his popularity. On why he enjoys making instru-mental albums, Lau told Acclaim Mag: “I’m a fan of listening to instru-mental music and I feel that it serves a purpose. It gives the listener more headspace, as a vocal can sometimes be a narrative that may not be needed. I practise the art of making music, so a lot of it may not require vocals, so the result is a vast number of instru-mentals.”
Lau panders towards the heavy-drums-driven sound, laden with soulful samples. The musicians and DJs who will play alongside him at Beat Dimensionz have similar sounds to offer. They are Christian Tiger School, Symatics, Whitenite and others in Cape Town, while he will be joined by Just Themba, Kid Fonque, 37mph and Soulo Starr in Joburg. For the Jozi beatmakers, a beat workshop conducted by Lau will be held at the Puma Social Club on November 28 and R20 will get you in. So if you don’t mind not hearing someone rapping over tracks all set long, be sure to check out Beat Dimensionz this month.
• Catch Eric Lau and others at Zula Bar R120 in Cape Town on Friday. Tickets are R120 at the door. You can also catch Lau and others at Mash in Newtown, Joburg, on November 30. R150 at the door.