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Beans

Antipop Consortium instigator Beans lays down relentless, out-of-this-world beats with highly poeticized and simply mind-boggling lyrics. His stream-of-consciousness delivery seems closer to sound poetry and free jazz than radio rap, and his music is similarly avant-garde, blending fractured electro with industrial noise. He's worked with a wide range of electronic, hip-hop, experimental, and rock artists, including Four Tet, Arto Lindsay, and Vernon Reid, in addition to recording albums with jazz luminaries like Matthew Shipp and William Parker. Following Antipop's initial breakup, he released his first solo album, Tomorrow Right Now, on Warp in 2003. Since then, his prolific output has veered between jazz abstractions (2006's Only), scatological freakiness (2011's End It All), and intensely political material (2017's HAAST). Two 2020 full-lengths (Team BreakUP and Venga) were followed by the 2021 single Bermuda Serpent Saliva Man. Raised in White Plains, New York, Beans (born Robert Edward Stewart II) was a member of the influential Brooklyn Boom Poetic Collective. He then found acclaim merging hip-hop with experimental electronic music as one-third of the influential N.Y.C. progressive rap outfit Antipop Consortium. The group, formed in 1997, released three full-lengths (culminating with the sophisticated and cerebral Arrhythmia on Warp Records) as well as an album with DJ Vadim (as the Isolationist) and a collaboration with free jazz maestro Matthew Shipp. In 2000, Beans gave the world the first taste of his solo work with the Nude Paper 12" on Mo Wax. But it wasn't until the breakup of the Consortium that he released his solo full-length debut. Tomorrow Right Now, put out by Warp in 2003, found Beans grafting Antipop's way-out B-boy surrealism to a true pop core. After a series of tours with acts as diverse as the Rapture, Out Hud, El-P, Prefuse 73, and Mike Ladd, Beans recorded his follow-up, the Now, Soon, Someday EP -- including remixes by Prefuse 73 and El-P -- released in January of 2004. The full-length Shock City Maverick landed that same year and was followed in 2006 by Only, a collaboration with avant-garde jazzers William Parker and Hamid Drake for the Thirsty Ear label's Blue Series. His 2007 effort, Thorns, mainly found him handling his own production, with Holy Fuck backing him on a few tracks, and Dabrye producing another. Antipop re-formed that year, and their reunion album, Fluorescent Black, appeared on Big Dada in 2009. Beans signed to Anticon for 2011’s End It All, which featured guest producers like Four Tet, Clark, and Interpol’s Sam Fogarino. Also in 2011, Beans reteamed with HPrizm (Antipop's High Priest), Matthew Shipp, and William Parker for the album Knives from Heaven. Beans and producer Mux Mool formed the duo Knifefight, releasing a self-titled EP on Anticon in 2013. After spending several years working on various projects, Beans returned in 2017 with a "weird fiction" novel titled Die Tonight, as well as three albums on his own TYGR RAWWK RCRDS: Love Me Tonight, Wolves of the World, and HAAST. 2018 brought the EP Nights Without Smiles (with Diamond Terrifier and Michael Beharie of Zs) and the albums Nibiru Tut and Someday This Will All Be Ash. Ace Balthazar, including guest appearances from billy woods and Jennifer Herrema, appeared in 2019. Team BreakUP and Venga (with Angel Bat Dawid and Hemlock Ernst featured on a track each) arrived the following year. The abrasive single Bermuda Serpent Saliva Man was released in 2021. Beans then worked on the solo album Harrower and a collaboration with Vladislav Delay.
© Charles Spano & Paul Simpson /TiVo

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