Instrumental albums -- also known as beat tapes -- give hip-hop producers a direct connection with fans, without any of those annoying lyrics on top of them.
These can often be a nice change of pace. But make no mistake, they aren't albums to zone out to, or to put on while you do a crossword puzzle, they're fierce, compelling works in their own right. Below, then, are our top five (mostly) instrumental albums from L.A. producers this year.
5. Tae Beast
Tae Beast Tape 2
Tae Beast, a member of Top Dawg Entertainment's Digi+phonics production team, is responsible for some of the rising label's hottest tracks, including Kendrick Lamar's "Ronald Reagan Era" and Ab-Soul's "Pineal Gland." On Tae Beast Tape 2 he showcases a knack for flipping routine samples with well-spaced keys and jazzy undertones. The addition of swirling live vocals (recorded in-studio) on tracks like "Kayden's Dreams" take this work to the next level.
Easily the most experimental producer here, Co.fee's Bermuda EP is more cinematic than is typically found on these types of tapes. The antithesis to today's spacey minimalist trend, his percussion is quite polished. The work is short, and as final track "Bourgeois" fades we're left wanting more.