Hiphop and Peer Review

Disquiet on peer-reviewed hiphop mp3s: an analyis of the site Crate Kings, where beatmeisters trade beats and evaluate them, and post tech talk.

Most of the participants in the dialog post their own work, backing up their words with their own efforts. At, there are several places where users post their beats for the public. One is the Beat Battles forum, where a single sample is shared by competitors who, Iron Chef-style, seek to best utilize it in a rhythmic backing track. There’s also a freeform forum, where a typical heading will read “New Beat. Thoughts Wanted.”

Haven't spent much time there to see how in-depth it is but enjoyed the MySpace-posted songs of Organixlives that Disquiet recommended. Minimal ambient sample-bending provides the hooks and a driving, almost off the shelf beat runs throughout. Initially started listening with the idea that these were just backing tracks for vocals but then started thinking of them as little Philip Glass-like compositions or Varese with a pulse.

A word on "peer reviewed." The way Disquiet uses the term is completely accurate yet turns the notion of peer review, in the academic "final word by experts" sense, on its head. Internet sites such as Crate Kings can be hothouse labs where ideas incubate but they are communities of passion and shared interest and tend to come and go. As opposed to the academic journals where continuities of subject matter, archives, etc are built slowly across decades and unshakeable cults of expertise (Thomas Kuhn's paradigms, if you will) are harder to demolish.

An artist who I have intermittently clashed with on and elsewhere (rarely productively) keeps saying "there are artists and there are critics and each does his or her thing." (Not a quote, a paraphrase.) Who are the artists and who are the critics at Crate Kings? There are only people with passion for a subject. Cults of expertise aren't good. Everyone has his or her own best way of "articulating" the art, and takes turns playing litigant, advocate, and judge. The internet has made this possible, but demands critical readers. Ironically the artist who reveres criticism enough to give it its own job is a net artist.