There’s a cinematic vibe behind the instrumental hip hop that Axel Roley creates that effectively separates his take on the genre from what other artists around town are doing. His latest album, titled 1nceagain…tha ep furthers Roley’s reputation as one Louisville’s most versatile beat makers — on one hand he can shell out smooth, tranquil rhythms, and on the other he’s great at producing rough, gritty beats with an edge, always subconsciously encouraging you utilize the track as a soundtrack behind your own painted picture or your own scene in a movie.
Considering that I’ve never been in a hip hop laboratory, I’m not going to pretend to know anything about the science behind putting together these sorts of analog hip hop beats. Having said that, I’m always blown away by the attention to detail on every single track on Roley’s latest effort. Opening track “tha blast.” is an upbeat toe-tapper that plays as a great soundtrack behind an ambitious morning coffee, where with each sip you get the feeling that on this day, anything is possible.
I get a similar feeling with “mind elevate.”, which has more of a reflective essence behind it. The album’s finale, titled “time to go…” is much more of a dreamy haze than the others — each time I listen to it, I feel as if I’m lighter than air, floating into the sky in that weird Wonkavater thing at the end of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one, not the abomination from Tim Burton).
As a consumer and fanatic of instrumental hip hop, I only know what works for me, and each song on 1nceagain…tha ep inspires me in a different way, each painting a different picture without the assistance from an emcee. What’s especially fun about this album is that each time I listen to it, I manipulate a totally new scenario for it to play behind. I’d love to see this guy put music behind a movie as I feel that Roley is especially good at conveying an emotional atmosphere with his onion-thick layers of production. If you’re a fan of this sort of hip hop, I urge you to check out the rest of his work as he’s been one of my favorite beat makers. And I’m not just talking about producers in Louisville, but anywhere on planet Earth.
Listen to 1nceagain…tha ep below via Bandcamp.