Album Review: Clams Casino – Instrumental Mixtape 2

Clams Casino has garnered quite a bit of attention this year, thanks to rappers A$AP Rocky and Lil B among others. Rocky hit the big time last year with his excellent mixtape LiveLoveA$AP, featuring four Clams tracks made fresh for him and one (the beat for “Demons”) taken from the first Clams instrumental mixtape (originally called “Numb”). Despite his goofy demeanor, Lil B’s strong Internet following has given Clams Casino’s tracks a lot of attention, including the heavily borrowed “Motivation”, as well as “I’m God” and “Realist Alive”. In the past year, Clams (born Mike Volpe) has been climbing the food chain. With this batch of instrumentals come some bigger names including The Weeknd and Mac Miller. Whether or not you like the rappers he produces for, Clams Casino makes beats that are altogether unto himself, and currently, he stands in a class of one.

On this mixtape, you’ll find the instrumentals for all four of the newer A$AP Rocky tracks and two newer Lil B tracks, as well as the original mix of “The Fall”, off The Weeknd’s Echoes of Silence, and the Clams beats found on Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park. Also seen here are the instrumentals for the remix of Washed Out single “Amor Fati” and Lana Del Rey track “Born To Die”.

In their more familiar forms, Clams Casino beats give chilled-out rappers an even colder vibe, slowing them down to a crawl and creating a perfect track for anyone who wants to sound drugged up and laid back. But when the verses are cut from the mix, Clams track really start to shine. His chopped up and reverberated samples have more layers than you think, and Volpe relies on the ebb and flow of the harmony and the bass more than the drums to create drive and texture. The beats themselves are pretty straightforward, but it’s the collection of noise that really stands Clams Casino apart from the rest.

The Clams instrumental mixtapes are meant to be background music. They aren’t very forward and they won’t demand your emotional reaction the same way other instrumental artists will. But for long drives as well as house parties, Clams creates a wonderful vibe that you can bob your head to for 50 minutes straight. The best moment on the album is perhaps the end – the beat for Lil B’s “I’m God” is a masterpiece, but before this release, it’s always been overshadowed by one of Lil B’s most laughable rants. Finally, we get to hear that awesome chop and change sample of Imogen Heap’s “Just For Now” in its full glory, as well as a powerful drum build and a chorus that will give you goosebumps.

Clams Casino is without a doubt one of hip-hop’s great rising producers, and hopefully with the next year we will only see more “produced by” tags across the board. Keep your eyes open for a physical release of Instrumental Mixtape 2. Last time around, Clams dropped a limited double vinyl release with no hype whatsoever and it sold out in days. Unfortunately, the link to the mixtape that Clams posted on his Twitter (the release was free) no longer exists. But the mixtape is certainly worth searching out, as it is a stellar addition to Clams Casino’s highly praised instrumental catalogue.

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