ANDRE AFRAM ASMAR
MIXING HIP-HOP, DUB, ELECTRONICA AND VARIOUS FORMS OF ETHNIC MUSIC, THIS HIP-HOP PRODUCER CREATES A UNIQUE, COMPELLING SOUND
Los Angeles-based producer Andre Asmar didn't have any sort of grand scheme when it came to putting together Racetothebottom, his solo debut for Mush Records.
"The actual album wasn't planned out. It just came together day by day. I started having fun with these people making music."
The people Asmar's talking about is the small army of musicians that came together to make Race. Asmar's first release, the self-produced Zombeats, was a beat record and there's a strong hip-hop foundation on Race as well. Asmar piles an eclectic set of influences on top of that though, including dub, electronica and a wide array of ethnic music.
"I'm not sure it'll sell," Asmar says about the sprawling, provocative collection, "but you can always give it away and shit."
The influence of Arabic music is especially strong here, most notably the plaintive vocals of Palestinian singer Elias. Asmar's of Palestinian descent as well and there are hints--including vocals recording live at a Palestinian refugee camp--of a political message here.
"It's not really planned out," Asmar notes, "just certain stuff I'm interested in. It's probably just that I have compassion for people on this planet that are suffering. I have family in Palestine; I have family all over the Middle East."
Race doesn't rely too much on word to get its message across but the pacing is arresting. If this is a race it's a slow one; the polyrhythmic drums punctuating Asmar's spacious compositions sound more like a grim march and definitely cause you to stop and think about what you're listening to.
"I'm not going to make a song just to make a song."