taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of the moment

SKI BEATZ — 24 Hour Karate School Part 2

With Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne collaboration drawing every eye in the hip-hop world like the gaze of Sauron last week, Ski Beatz quietly dropped an effort that proves that too many chefs don’t necessarily make a better stew. On 24 Hour Karate School Part 2, the Greensboro-born producer extraordinaire is once again playing sensei to a class of MC pupils of diverse skill sets. Ski can craft a beat for just about any voice and he’s at his rangiest here, banging out 12 tracks that bring out mostly the best out of the 12 arrangements of promising, if sometimes flawed rappers. Unlike Yeezy and Jeezy’s overproduced, but lukewarm joint effort, the strength of 24 Hour Karate School Part 2 is its consistency. It’s never the same MC, but it always feels like the same album. Since Ski started making beats for Currensy, the arena-friendly guitar riff has been his go-to, and their blunted wooziness is the lynchpin for the voices that mimic Currensy’s own stoned gait. Some beats stand out, like the hollowed-out minimalism of “Frontin’” and the stuttering breaks of opener “Metabolic.” Lead-off man Locksmith also brings some of the record’s nastiest verses with his staccato flow, riffing on Wiz Khalifa over Ski’s live drums. The jittery, futuristic backdrop of “Moonwalk” blows by like high-intersperse Morse Code while the thumping breaks match lyricist STS syllable for syllable. Shots at the Throne abound, though some more on target than others. Stalley’s “Larry Bird” flubs his basketball trivia with the opening line “Before you Magics and Jordans did it… I flashed medals and rings.” Not quite. Magic Johnson not only beat Bird for an NCAA championship, but took home an NBA title before Larry Legend as well. That the dizzying organs of “Majesty” play like fanfare for a direct call-out of the Throne (“Ain’t no other kings in this rap thing/ I’m the rap king, My name Cassidy/ Say hello to your majesty”) is probably not coincidental. The timing is simply too good to pass up headshots at the biggest rappers in the game. Typical Ski Beatz, he doesn’t miss.