Producer Styles 1001 fixes what’s wrong with Sacramento hip-hop
There’s not enough room here to properly discuss Styles 1001 and his debut album. So here’s all you need to know about the man:
1) He was born Dewitt Marcel Nunery.
2) On December 5 this year, he came out with The Solution, an album so imaginative that it will be marked as one of Sacramento’s finest hip-hop releases in the last decade.
There you go.
As a producer, Styles 1001 has done something miraculous: He’s taken a handful of Sacramento’s most skilled emcees, harnessed their energy and created a new, cohesive Sacramento sound, which turns out to be a healthy blend of heavy drums mixed with mostly unmodified soul samples and emcees who are at ease with battle raps, but don’t shy away from hardcore lyrics.
While The Solution is cohesive, it’s also full of peaks and valleys. For instance, the song “Rap Profiles,” featuring J. Good and Keno, pairs an ominous sample with the dexterous emcees, who reach artistic compromise between braggadocio rap and storytelling. From the album’s start, it’s evident that Styles 1001 understands not just hip-hop, but also the foundation and structure of the music from which it’s derived.
“I’m a big fan of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker,” he says. “So that jazz has always been in me.”
But it’s not a one-note show. Without warning, Styles can switch from soothing jazz to a Tupac sample so hard that you want to grab a sharp object and then call 911. After Tupac raps, “I need loot, so I’m doing what I do / And don’t say shit until you’ve walked in my shoes,” the intuitive producer drops a beat that manages to match the intensity of the sample. What’s even more amazing is that Styles found two emcees, Mahtie Bush and Chase Moore, who actually keep up with the unabashedly scary arrangement.
And what comes naturally for Styles is what many local producers can’t do at all, which is to stand back—to be a servant to the music. Styles knows exactly when to let the vibe of the beat and the pattern of the emcee do the work. He forces nothing and ends up with tracks like Chuuwee’s “Day & Night,” a symphony of organic soul that makes complete sense. It’s within this meticulous process—wide-eyed discovery and gentle placement of sounds—that Styles has unwittingly defined a new Sacramento style.
And not every song has to adhere to a set of rules. The track “Her Beauty,” for instance, pairs a haunting Nina Simone sample (“She does not know her beauty”) with a set of horns that breaks your heart in two. When emcees Chara Charis, Random Abiladeze and DJ Rated R enter the track, the listener is instantly transported to sublimity. The result? Pure frustration: The listener doesn’t want the track to end, which is the sign of a perfect hip-hop song.
From beginning to end, the album is fascinating, from the frenzy of Tribe of Levi matched perfectly, beat for beat, with Styles’ wild production (and a killer Temptations sample) to the producer’s ability to shed light on emcees that I’ve previously slept on, such as the incredibly talented Reflective Intelligence (R.I.), as if Grand Puba possessed Eminem’s storytelling capabilities.
And just when you think it’s over, the producer—who I’m convinced has some undiscovered bionic power—finally finds a beat big enough to hold the oversized rapper Task1ne. The party track that sounds like an explosion to end all explosions. It makes your man boobs jiggle and leaves The Solution to go out only one way: with a deafening bang.
So, there’s a lot to say about Styles 1001, the fan of Madlib, Billie Holiday, A Tribe Called Quest and grimy 1930s sounds. But to be honest, Styles says everything much better himself, without words and within the confines of his nearly flawless debut album.