Bushido Beats: The Art of War in Hip-Hop Production

By: Adisa, The Bishop

There is a powerful trend in Hip-Hop production growing outside of the rap industry. It is happening organically in the free landscape of the internet. I call it Bushido Beats.

Back in the early 1990’s, I was in a rap group called Freedom T.R.O.O.P. 187. I used to be obsessed by studying Taoism, Buddhism and Confucian scholarship. I used to go with my friend MC Hi-Low to Shambala Books on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, CA. We would buy whatever we could find. Once I bought a tape of some Japanese flutes and another of a Japanese harpist (sadly both their names escape me now). Back then Hi-Low and I always said we were gonna put the melodies to a beat. We never did. Luckily a lot of other rap artists emerged with Eastern-themed music. DJ Premier did a lot with Jeru and Afu Ra, and of course the Wu Tang Clan.

Many years ago I interviewed Shaolin Monk Shi Yan Ming (Kung Fu teacher and mentor of RZA)  for the Yoga Journal for a story about rap artists who practice meditation and do yoga. He said “When people listen to Hip-Hop, they dance and are happy. This is also meditation. RZA, when he writes songs, uses philosophy to help people. He is giving people meditation.”

When he said it at the time, I was much more of a yoga practitioner than a meditator. I respected it, because how can you not respect the wisdom a Shaolin Monk speaks. At the same time, I felt it was a little over the top. Now that I do practice many forms of meditation, I am still shocked at how strikingly accurate his words were.

About a year or so back, I got online looking for Wu Tang instrumentals. I had just finished listening to El Michels Affair Album Enter the 37th Chamber. It is a collection of Wu Tang classics replayed. He just released a new one, Return to the 37th Chamber with some fantastic tracks on there as well.

In any case what happened next was fantastic. It suggested I play a song called King by an artist named Ronin. It opens with a mellow meditative stringed instrument. Shortly after a bold bassline and military drums and flutes masterfully emerge. The end result is quite spectacular. From there I learned Ronin had another song called Mesa and that this was indeed a full music genre with the participation of artists from all over the planet. I feel like if Bruce Lee were alive today, he was bump this hard. One can dream.

Keep in mind these are created to be instrumentals. Rappers are not needed for this music to enjoy a lane of its own in cyberspace. A great deal of it is very aggressive. You can imagine Sun Tzu commanding 10,000 troops into battle to some of them. Others are laid back and quite relaxing. A great example of this beat is simply called Asian Rap Beat  posted by Thai Rex. I cannot tell if Thai Rex made the beat or just posted it. It currently has more than 2 million views on youtube. Other artists who deserve an honorable mention in the space include (but not limited to) Raven, Justin Kase, and VintageMan Beats and  Ratz Beats who now has more than 5 million views with Shaolin Style Type . Two of my other favorites is a Grillabeats Kontaru and Trapanese by Sez. It has massive bass and will surely blow your parents speakers if given the chance.

At the HHCF Chess and Jiu-Jitsu classes these beats are often banging as students enter the academy. There is something magical to me about the music helping to set the tone. Now, there are other days when we train in complete silence. Both have their benefits.

It is important to note that these are not new tracks. Some of them have been around between 5 to 7 years or more. The consistency the Bushido Beats emerge with is proof of its staying power. Keep in mind that this is an internet phenomenon that has no place on commercial radio or TV. And it appears to be growing.

I keep seeing people post tracks as “Asian type this” or “Oriental Hip-Hop beat”. I am choosing to name this style of production Bushido Beats. At the end of the day, it is still Hip-Hop. Real Hip-Hop. True Hip-Hop made for the love of the path, not pop music galore.

This is music that I workout to. This is music I write to and sometimes meditate to. I find it inspiring. It motivates me through my yoga poses and drives me to knock out another set when I want to quit.

When trying to understand and accurately measure the impact of the Wu Tang Clan on the planet, this emerging genre is yet another manifestation of their seemingly infinite legacy. At the same time it is important to note the roll that local traditions have in the global expansion of Hip-Hop. It makes total sense that Wu Tang or not, a DJ in Japan or China, India, or Tibet might want to add some local music from their tradition to give an original stamp on what they make.

If you know artists who make beats like these, please tweet me the link with the hashtag #BushidoBeats @hiphopchess on Twitter.

As a bonus I'm gonna add this Mike Relm produced jam called The Iron Hook Scroll. Enjoy!

Popular Posts