Published Jan 01, 2006As production gear becomes more accessible, bedroom DJs the world over are producing professional-sounding beats on the cheap in an effort to make their mark as the next Premier or Shadow. But the competition to forge a unique signature remains stiff. Under the moniker of Prefuse 73, Scott Herren has developed a recognisable sound by his production style alone. Heads just need to hear a mangled hip-hop beat with heavily chopped-up vocals to ask the record clerk, "Is this Prefuse?"
One Word Extinguisher is Herren's follow-up to the groundbreaking Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives that he dropped two years ago an effort that picked hip-hop up by its ankles and gave it a shake. In the time it's taken the Atlanta-raised, Spain-based producer to drop this sequel, several artists have already adopted his knack for crushing electronic, rock and jazz together and dicing vocals to bits and pieces. "I tried to push the musicality of [One Word Extinguisher] a little bit and just used different techniques, replacing certain things that I would have normally done with different sounds," says Herren. "If I was to have taken a typical sample of a horn I would change it with a Moog sound or just some kind of weird keyboard sound, or somebody falling off a building. Just randomness, you know?"
This growth has resulted in a more complex and adventurous sophomore effort. But where did this uncommon hip-hop racket come from in the first place? While using hand-me-down pieces of gear to make live beats, Herren decided to stray from the musical path. "I was just working on a way for me to make hip-hop and hear it a different way," Herren says. "There's really no political comment behind it, it's just me interpreting things differently. Having grown up on hip-hop, you hear the MC or the instrumental you never hear what's in-between, and I kind of wanted to go there. It's kind of nerdy, but that was my initial goal. I just took notes from '80s edit records and booty-shake records where they cut up the vocals."
Mincing an MC's vocals is one of the signature sounds for Prefuse 73, but it's something he's almost abandoned for One Word Extinguisher. It's a technique that melds the lyrical fury of a mic into another instrument, but some journalists didn't quite get the picture. "I've had some pretty serious accusations and political innuendoes towards what I'm trying to do with the voice, and it's been really offensive. Just taking it somewhere that really nobody needs to take it. Why are you chopping this voice up for the aesthetic reasons of the oppressed male, blah blah blah.' Please, I grew up in fucking Atlanta and you're from the suburbs just shut the fuck up," he laughs. "Do you think in the '80s when Mantronix was making music that people were calling him out on why he was doing that politically?"
Perhaps it's just another case of uptight critics and hip-hop purists taking all the fun out of a genre that is constantly being monitored for quality control. "It's just people trying to insert drama into a boring story," he laughs. "Instead of some dude just making weird beats it's just a way to make it seem like poking the weird animal. Provoke him and see what he does. See if he can explain himself or see if we can make him out to be a total idiot."