[BEATS AND BLASTS] Sapient might be too good at his day job of selling beats. While the Sandpeople Producer/MC's new collection, Eaters Volume One: Tusks!—the first in a planned series of Mad Lib-style instrumental collaborations—is plenty layered and sonically ambitious, many of its tracks beg for the human voice. That's good for business, but I'm not entirely sure it was the point of Tusks!
Where brief, horn-packed opener "Ivory Holders" is a complete composition, Sape's sparkling, Ratatat-esque second track, "Trifle With Me," comes packaged with a couple of pre-made hooks that all but demand skilled MCing between them. Like most of the disc, both tracks straddle the organic/electronic divide Sapient has long been adept at connecting—but where instrumentals sometimes need to wander and creep to set a mood sans MCing, Sape often chooses to put the beat on blast instead, crafting impressive but incomplete-sounding compositions.
Then comes "Many One," which builds an unlikely bridge between Ennio Morricone and The Legend of Zelda. And there are a few more shockers to come: "Earbugs" is too slow and churning to accommodate most MCs, and "Airport Land" begins as a gurgling Flying Lotus-style head-nodder with a touch of g-funk stitched in its seams, then moonlights as a club cut and goes minimal before the finish line.
Some of Sape's more traditional beats are certainly strong enough to stand alone: "Throat" and "Cool Walter" are two end-credits-worthy jams that bring a cinematic sort of boom-bap to the table. But it's the two vocal cuts—a remix of Barrels for Feathers' "Blissless Yield" that reminds a bit of Kanye's "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and the brand new "Place for One," a fascinating narrative exercise that seems to be rapped from the perspective of a fetus—that remind us that, even if his production skills are bountiful and unique, Sapient may just be too talented of a lyricist to keep his voice off the record.
SEE IT: Sapient's Tusks! comes out Tuesday, Aug. 16 (pre-order packages available at sapientkills.com).