Audio: Philadelphia Freedom

April 09, 2007

We have a whole separate subcategory in our "Albums We Desparately Want Released THIS SECOND" mental Post-It note devoted to members of Philly's State Property crew, with Peedi Peedi's debut LP and Freeway's sophomore disc constantly rivaling for pole position (how is YOUNG CHRIS gonna be closer to a Def Jam release date before these two? And we say this as Young Chris fans! Wingohocking!) Anyhow, the point we're making is that every new mixtape cut and track leak from these guys is a golden egg to us, and this weekend we were gifted with a HAPPY EASTER, MOTHERFUCKERS! courtesy of Free, longtime State Prop producer Chad "Wes" Hamilton, and former FADER cover star Sleepy Brown. Give a listen to "Some Say Yes," and check out our Beat Construction feature on Chad from FADER 33 after the jump. And tell somebody to finally put out that TI song he did!

Beat Construction: Chad "Wes" Hamilton

The futuristically vintage soul of Philadelphia

By Nick Barat

When Beanie Sigel’s “Gotta Have It” first made its way to mixtapes last year, it sounded like nothing else out at the time. It featured a driving four-on-the-floor breakbeat with a huge cymbal crash every eight bars and whooshing cop show synths holding a single note for the entire chorus. The track was unique, but not “weird”—just oddly epic and hard as fuck. Even the intro was hyped beyond belief, with Peedi Peedi nasally chanting over keyboard swells, “Chad, Chad Wes on track…I gotta have it!”

For the past four years, producer Chad “Wes” Hamilton’s Homebase studio in Philadelphia has lived up to its namesake for the members of the State Property crew, They are constantly there recording, writing lyrics or just hanging out. “We go through the drives [for beats], and I just let them do them,” Hamilton explains. After linking with SP after a chance meeting with members Sparks and Young Chris, the producer has recorded tracks for almost all the group’s releases, blending old ’70s soul from the O’Jays and Delphonics with his own sparse MicroKorg and Motif keyboard riffs. In the process, Hamilton’s spawned a futuristically vintage soul sound that complements the innovative gangsterisms of Sigel, Peedi and Co.

The combination first found chart success with the Young Gunz’s “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”, an unlikely club banger built off nothing but popcorn-popping bass hits and sampled shouts of “Go! Go!” from old-school rap 12-inches. Even more minimal was “Sick Of Waiting”, which starts off with no drums at all—just some woodblock clicks, a bell and what sounds like an elephant—before some JBs-flavored snare rolls come in to provide a funky skeleton. “I’m so disappointed that never came out,” Hamilton says of the track that became a Brothers From Another outtake. “Def Jam was feeling it at first. It could have been pushed and helped attract a bigger crowd.”

Hamilton has started branching out, making tracks for Cam’ron, Baltimore’s Bossman (Hamilton was once a Charm City resident himself), and upstart Cleveland MC Ray Cash, as well as new cuts for the State Prop family. “I have a classic with Freeway called ‘Baby, Don’t Do It’ and like six joints on his new album. And I can’t wait to mix Peedi’s record,” he says.

Though he’s known for making songs that make club security feel nervous, Hamilton’s now exploring his quiet storm side with a soul singer named Jeremy. “The hip-hop took off, but I’m back writing on piano nowadays then incorporating samples with it,” he says. Sounds like some more of that old new shit.

Posted: April 09, 2007
Audio: Philadelphia Freedom