Edan - Beauty and the Beat (Cover Artwork)


Beauty and the Beat (2005)


Who would have ever thought that a Jewish man from Boston, Massachusetts would release one of the greatest alternative hip-hop albums of the 2000s?

Say hello to Edan -- an artist who does a little bit of everything: rapping, producing, sampling and programming. He has taken the DIY ethic and applied it perfectly to hip-hop music, creating art that screams out "genius" at nearly every turn.

Musically, Edan gives us a very eclectic album, as he samples everything from funk to '60s and '70s rock. Some critics have even labeled his sound as psychedelic rap, owing to his heavy use of rock samples, tape echoes and spacey whirs. This is hip-hop that Jimi Hendrix would listen to if still alive today -- the album is a 34-minute acid trip.

One of the big differences between Edan and today's current crop of MCs is that Edan's knowledge of classic hip-hop is unsurpassed, and it reflects on his albums. His vocal style is very reminiscent to Rakim, the late '80s MC who revolutionized the entire genre with his brilliant internal rhymes, and not since the mid-'90s has hip-hop seen a wordsmith quite like Edan. On the song "Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme" Edan even gives us a mini-hip-hop lesson, reminding us of the roots of the genre with artists such as Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Wu-Tang and other classics. The entire album, in fact, carries a late '80s vibe, yet manages to stay remarkably fresh and progressive all at the same time.

Edan calls in two of the New England area's greatest hip-hop artists -- Mr. Lif and Percee P -- as guest appearances; however, Edan can easily hold his own lyrically:

My word choice is turquoise I love to create
My art hurdles over the clouds of dark purple
Red mixes yellow and blue in sharp circles
Paint splashes over your conscious like canvas
Colors jump out of the body to form branches
Psychedelic images flash like avalanches
Illustrate skill with the quill to build stanzas
I use pens like hallucinogens
So who can pretend, my music ain't a beautiful thing
A suitable king, deserving of the jewels and the rings"
This is an experimental hip-hop record, and many listeners may consequently not feel what Edan is doing here. Some of the beats may come across to some ears as sloppy and distorted -- who would think to sample Black Sabbath in a hip-hop song? But that is the beauty of the album: It challenges hip-hop listeners in every little way imaginable. This is exactly what underground hip-hop should sound like.

Rock & Roll