Welcome to the fourth edition of Ill Communication. This month's edition features Suhnraw, Bill Ding, Ghost Noises, A/V, Felly and Chance The Rapper.


As much as hip-hop is about the power of language and the all-encompassing skills of the rapper and mc, it's also as much about the beats and the sound. The science of production and the alchemy of sonic manipulation have played an important role in hip-hop's development. Suhnraw is a humdrum college student who is enthralled with beat manipulation and the endless possibilities of warping sounds and vibes into something unique and compelling. His latest mixtape, the perfectly titled Beat Addict, is an excellent introduction to his sound. Taking influence from fellow legendary sonic alchemists J Dilla and Madlib, Suhnraw mixes all manner of sounds into one melange of insidious hip-hop beats. There is nothing contrived here. The symphonic samples, horn blasts and sampled vocals all coalesce together naturally. It's obvious that Suhnraw holds Dilla's Donuts dear but it's great to hear a producer making beats just for the sheer love of it. It's certainly primitive and a little rough around the edges but Beat Addict shows the work of a producer with a wealth of ideas who is willing to experiment with both old and new sounds.


Following some sweet instrumental manipulation, we come to something brash, bold and ever so slightly strange. Bill Ding's 'Dave Bowie' is an odd weirded out piece of lovingly sinister strung out hip-hop. Perhaps if the late 70s drug addled Bowie was transported into the future as an experimental hip-hop artist this is the ever so slightly deranged music he would be making. In collaboration with Das Racist's Kool AD, they work themselves up to a frenzy repeatedly chanting in almost mantra like fashion, "I'm Dave Bowie." with some random shouts of 'Brian Wilson' thrown in. The music is portentous and eerie giving the whole thing a gloriously menacing ambience. It's a sound of displacement and malevolence. This is a track that you cannot ignore. The other tracks on Bill Ding's soundcloud are equally as audacious and odd. The unhinged collaboration with Danny Brown, 'Die Like A Rockstar', is another highlight.


Cleveland's Ghost Noises is a rapper and producer who comes from a distinctly more abstract background. Signed to US experimental hip-hop and electronica label Alloy-X, Ghost Noises makes hip-hop that sounds appropriately otherworldly. It's a sound that cannot be easily placed. On a track like 'Hallucinating', the poised and assured flow is set against blissfully unravelling synthesiser tendrils and a sedated beat. The contrast between somnambulant sounds and energised rhymes is striking and diverting. On 'Chemicals', the druggy distended reverie takes on a transcending ambience. The warped nature of all of these tracks combines to make a discombobulating but sweet feeling. Throughout the album, vocals and samples are pitch-shifted and messed with, unhuman sounds abound. Final track 'Beer Commercials' features the hook from Taylor Swift's 'I Knew You Were Trouble' twisted and mangled into a pitch-shifted sub human cry. Anyone with an interest in hip-hop of an oblique nature must seek out this album. Indeed, the whole Alloy-X milieu are deserving of attention. Particularly outstanding is the jazzy beats, breaks and samples of 'BluntBreaks' by fellow Cleveland resident A/V.


On a more old school level comes Restless, the new mixtape from 17-year-old Connecticut rapper Felly. Featuring production and beats from Pete Rock, DRO, Joomanji, Diba$E and Cave The Wiseman among others, it is a joyous run through of sounds that take in influences from across progressive hip-hop's spectrum. For someone so young Felly himself is incredibly assured. It helps that the beats and rhythms are impeccable. There is a lot to savour here. The general vibe is pared down and carefree, as exemplified on 'Everyday Sunny'. Tracks like 'Field To The Bull' are great fun, warm and rich break beats and funky bass give it a classic sound. Of course, with a lifted MF Doom beat you can't really go wrong. Elsewhere 'How Is It' veers into exuberant theatricality enlivened by jazzy horns. There is a pleasing readiness to adapt to any sound and style. A certain youthful naivety is present in the lyrics but there is certainly potential here. There is room though for some deeper introspection as exemplified by the mournful trumpets featured on 'Blue'. Felly is someone you can expect to hear much more from.


Finally, for this month a brief mention for 19-year-old Chicago resident Chance The Rapper. Chance releases his second mixtape Acid Rap at the end of the month. If you're looking for hip-hop's next breakout star then Chance The Rapper is a pretty safe bet. Check out the woozy vibes of 'Acid Rain' and the jumped up unabashed ebullience of 'Juice' for examples of his boundless personality.