Homegrown is a collaborative compilation between Inner Ocean Records and STZZZY (aka Steezyasfuck) created to honor the home producer. Released by Inner Ocean and pressed onto delicious cotton candy-colored vinyl, Homegrown features a dream team of artists from the broad universe of beats music. With heavyweights like Axian, Eevee, and Borealism, and newer names like Kazumi Kaneda, RudeManners and Senoy, this tape will dazzle fans of STZZZY and Inner Ocean, as well as anyone not yet familiar with these two juggernauts of chill.
According to its Soundcloud description, STZZZY is a collective that aims “to showcase the unique core sound and artistic values from producers such as J-Dilla, Nujabes, Ta-Ku, MF Doom, Uyama Hiroto, and many more.” This is what we talk about when we talk about beats music. These two collectives have been elevating this sound for years; STZZZY with more than 370,000 Youtube subscribers, and Inner Ocean whose founder claims to have hand-pressed “at least 10,000” cassette tapes in his life. Much of the best work on their channels comes from home producers or “bedroom producers”; the often unsigned, sometimes unknown but always unrelenting creators who put forth exceptional music from their own homes with modest technological means.
“Home producers aren’t anything new, but I think that in many ways their prominence in modern music scenes is really strong,” says Cory Giordano, the founder of Inner Ocean Records whom we introduced you to on Cassette Store Day. This phenomenon is buoyed both by easy access to compositional technology (SP-404, Ableton), and the plethora of platforms where producers can self-release (Soundcloud, Spotify). “Really great music can come from anywhere in any living situation with just a few tools on hand,” Cory continues. Beat music thrives online, as STZZZY’s substantial following attests to. Yet even the greatest new sounds can often dissolve into the ether of the internet. Inner Ocean is particularly proud of this vinyl press because it takes those sounds and “stamps them into history”.
Homegrown includes producers from at least six countries and three continents, but the vibe across the compilation is consistent. It’s a blend of two sub-genera of beat music; jazzy, soulful grooves and more spacey, ambient sounds. The latter is typified by Eevee of the Netherlands. With “Wonderland”, she continues to expand a dense discography containing over eight full-length beat tapes, and a raft of singles and EPs. “Wonderland” begins exactly how it ends. The rhythm is ubiquitous for the duration of the 4½ minute track, and can only be described as hypnotic. Chords slowly change note and scale as they are stretched and pitched with a laissez-faire intent, adding to the intoxicating dance of melody and percussion.
Finding his home in New York City and standing atop an impressive discography that includes close to two dozen LPs, EPs, and singles, RudeManners offers an irresistible jazz flair with his song “Flow”. The producer lets his samples shine through the mix with an organic timbre. The saxophone carries the track effortlessly and keeps the ears chasing after it like the warmth in the throat that chases a sip of whiskey. Groovy keys, classic snares and steady closed hi-hats follow the lush brass melody and bring the track together with a particularly musical cohesion.
On the tape’s tail end Senoy caught our ear. Hailing from Berlin, his debut record Shine was released through Inner Ocean. He previously produced and performed as part of a duo called Parra for Cuva that features a stronger electronic undercurrent than Senoy’s latest musical endeavors, though his contribution “Tibet” is still more akin to electronica than any other song on Homegrown. True to its name, assorted samples of Tibetan chants breathe life into the track. The chord structures fall over each other with an aqueous attitude tailing right behind bright foley samples on the 2s and 4s of each measure. The beat is constant, save for a few well-placed rhythmic turnarounds, and helps solidify the song into a lullaby.
Pervading this project is the niche sound and aesthetic that has endeared STZZZY and Inner Ocean to so many faceless but feeling online listeners through the years. This project finds both curating entities at their best. Instead of being chosen from a pool of track submissions, each artist was hand-selected for the tape, creating an embarrassment of riches to the benefit of you, the audience. An extremely timely tribute to the home producer, Homegrown is as well a testament to the unbound potential for collaboration and curation in the expanding world of beats, sweet beats.
Limited vinyl copies of Homegrown are available for pre-order on Inner Ocean's website. Find the full track list below.