Loyle Carner – BFG

What I’m about to write is the opposite of what I have been saying recently about beats matching their bars. I have been praising producers who make beats which capture the mood of their bars, each strengthening the other. Whilst I still maintain that a strong beat which fits the theme of the bars is a recipe for a good tune, this tune is an example of the complete opposite.

If you haven’t already heard Loyle Carner’s debut EP ‘A Little Late’ go check it out now. The production throughout this EP is so strong; it’s got a really chilled and understated vibe to it, which makes every single tune such a pleasant surprise when you hear it. His calm voice matches the calm beats and samples, but there is a distinctive boom bap feel to the whole EP, making it a subtle but incredibly strong piece of music.

And it is this subtleness which works so well in the EP’s first tune ‘BFG’.  Produced by Rebel Kleff, the beat has a cheerful guitar sample with some soft vocals in the background. It is filtered so that only the higher frequencies are coming through, so you can’t hear any bass. I love this technique; the seeming effect of the song being heard from the next room, or being played on an old radio. It creates a rough and rusty sound which, like vinyl crackle, makes the sample feel warmer and richer.

The same effect is applied to the beat here. The kick and the snare are very soft and quiet, and you can barely hear the hi hats. I love it when tunes start this way, holding back a lot of the sound so that when it is properly dropped in later on in the tune it has a much greater effect. Producer Rebel Kleff does this very well in this tune, waiting patiently until a few bars into the tune and then throwing in the harder, punchier kicks and snares.

Once the beat comes in, it really brings the whole tune together. This tune has got such a feel good boom bap vibe, with an emphasis on the bap. Whilst the kick is quite low and subtle, the snare has a solid punch to it, occupying the middle of the mix really well. I love a strong snare which just gives it that boom BAP feel, and a really simple bass line which complements the sample so well.

The combination of a smooth and mellow sample with a punchy but simple beat really sets an up-beat tone for this tune. Rapping about the loss of his dad, you might not think that a bubbly beat would fit such serious content, but I think it works really well in this tune due to the way in which the beat builds up and then falls back down again.

As opposed to rapping on a very down-tempo gloomy beat, this song creates a happy vibe. This happy old school vibe is maintained throughout, when suddenly the beat drops out and all you can hear is the hook over the sample. The gradual uplifting tone of the tune suddenly disappears, when all you can hear is the sample and the lyrics ‘everybody says I’m fucking sad, of course I’m fucking sad I miss my fucking dad’.

I think that the happiness of the sample makes this hook such a surprise, and the lyrics so much more effective and powerful. Throughout the tune the listener is being led in a happy harmless direction, and then this hook is dropped on them and they can properly appreciate what the tune is about. The complete switch in moods from happy to serious makes the lyrics so much more powerful, and I think this is a great example of a properly thought out beat complements the bars so well, but in a completely different way. The sample doesn’t necessarily fit the mood of the tune, but the way in which it is produced and structured enhances the bars so well.

Although I have talked a lot about how much I enjoy a beat which matches the bars in terms of its mood, I think this is an example of how well the complete opposite can work. Something so simple as just dropping the beat out for the hook to make it more effective, shows how it is often the most simple things in production which have the greatest effect.

If you haven’t already heard it, here is a link to BFG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-ba3H_Sv6o

And here is a link to the mix tape, available to download for free: https://soundcloud.com/loyle-carner/sets/a-little-late-ep


Massive respect to Loyle Carner and Rebel Kleff on the beats!