When it comes to genres that have been allowed to flourish in the age of the online music cloud, few have risen to greater prominence than future sounds, better known to most as beats culture. An all-encompassing, chimeric blend of electronic, hip-hop and soul, beats takes DJs and producers of more traditional disciplines and infuses their aesthetics with the lush, groovy and unconventional elements of such sub-genres as dub, trap, chill, juke, house, tribal, sampling, chopped and screwed and many other lesser-known strata of club music and beat building.
While the spiritual home of beats culture lies in streaming services like Soundcloud, its true epicenter comes from the L.A.-based collective Soulection. But because this all exists online, there's been no regional limitations to the proliferation of beats culture. Dallas is currently enjoying an especially notable wealth of beats talent. Here are four such local artists leading the way for beats culture in Dallas.
Larce Blake turns 20 years old in November, marking 10 years that he's been creating music. A classically trained pianist since age 10, Blake was never the biggest fan of Mozart and Beethoven, holding a youthful preference for piano renditions of popular music. "I recreated 'Rubber Band Man' by T.I. in the fourth grade," he recalls. It's his musical proficiency and the sensibilities of a hip-hop and anime-influenced millennial generation that allows Blake to create compositions that are both ethereal and dope.
A seamless blend of hip-hop, electronic and R&B, he describes his music as a series of soundscapes ideal for studying and relaxing: "It's something you can just zone out to and let embellish in the background." Inspired by the production of Ryan Leslie and 9th Wonder, musicianship has always stood out to Blake. So when he was introduced to FL Studios in middle school, it wasn't long after that he began to produce rap beats for his friends. Five years later, Blake found himself growing tired of the confines of producing for others. "Making rap beats is kind of constricting, you know?" he says. "What I was allowed to make became based on what other people, particularly rappers, would like."
Upon graduating high school, Blake's rap clique disbanded and, with the room to create to his own standards, the 18-year old began to steadily flesh out his sound. It was after only a few Soundcloud posts and tireless promotion of his work to various beats culture tastemakers that Blake's "Nancy Wilson" composition was noticed by Complexion, the London collective responsible for the increasingly popular "Future Beats Show." The impact was immediate. "Nancy Wilson," just two months later, is now well over 9,000 plays and the exposure has introduced Blake to new fans and potential collaborators.
Blake credits this to the graciousness of the people who support his craft and his decision to empower himself just two years ago. "I just want to empower people and for people to empower themselves. I would have not been creating the type of music I'm making now had I not chosen to do what made me happy, had I not empowered myself."
Dream Child (dc)
Dream Child, preferably stylized as (dc), is the stage name of 21-year-old Sean Price. Originally from South Texas, (dc) found himself near Hurst-Euless-Bedford as a teenager, trying to flesh out a passion for music he's had since he was a child. After navigating the ins and outs of FL Studios, (dc) began producing beats for his rapper friends. Five years later, (dc) is no longer playing second-fiddle to emcees; instead he's one of the most anticipated producers in Dallas.
Heavily influenced by the production of Kanye West, the Neptunes and Mr. Carmack, his sound could be best described as spacey instrumentals that are intended to take the listener on an audio journey. (dc) incorporates everything from smooth R&B to gritty hip-hop and electronic elements. This formula, combined with his characteristic passion for everything he touches, has proven beneficial. His month-old composition "5AM" amassed over 2,000 plays in its first 24 hours due, in part, to the Future Sounds collective, Complexion (who'd just featured good friend, Larce Blake) reposting the track onto their timeline of over 18,000 Soundcloud followers.
(dc) credits Soundcloud for providing a platform that allows instrumentalists like himself to be exposed to audiences instantaneously. "I have a list of all the people and groups that I send my beats to when I drop them," he explains. "Complexion picked it up, reposted it and because of that, there are people that have become fans and supporters and, in turn, now subscribe to my Soundcloud."
When asked what he wants people to take away from his music, (dc) responds, "I want you to do you. Do what makes you happy. Don't live your life trying to satisfy what other people want. I had to pretty much change my performance name and identity because I'd fallen under the trap of making what people wanted to hear instead of answering to myself. Once I let go, that's really when things began to show their potential."
(dc) will be collaborating with Larce Blake on an instrumental EP soon to be released