Best Available Technology is the Portland-based producer Kevin Palmer and his upcoming LP Exposure Therapy, due out June 2nd via Styles Upon Styles, celebrates NYC’s boom bap era of hip-hop. Known for its’ gritty, homemade style, boom bap described the visceral, hard-hitting sound of bass and snare popularized by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and KRS-One in the 90’s, as well as earlier hip-hop heroes like Grandmaster Flash and T La Rock–who claims he popularized the phrase in the 80’s. Back in 2013, DJ Premier explained to Phillip Mlynar, in a Red Bull Academy lecture,
“Grandmaster Flash told me recently that if it’s hip hop then it has to go boom, bap, boom-boom, bap. When Flash tells me that in regular conversation, not only do you not question it, you accept it.”
While Palmer’s Exposure Therapy extols the style, he is also aware of the “problems” that arise thru nostalgia and the appropriation of cultural artifacts that aren’t one’s own. Instead of glossing over those important details, he hardwires the concerns into the music itself. If boom bap was the sonic equivalent to the hard driving energies of urban life, on a track like “Session 4190” Palmer re-situates those elements into more introspective surroundings. Not the sound of the streets so much, then, this might instead be the sound of memory itself. Flickering in a faded golden light of woozy and padded keys, this reverie is still set in motion by the crackle of over-driven bass. This time, though, it’s punctuated by the dust-caked history of the snare.