From the beginning there are three things you must know about U.K. producer Scott Xylo: he loves retro & classic gaming, he is a cartoon connoisseur, and he uses the former two addictions as his main inspiration when crafting music. Utilizing the internet to the fullest, the Leicester born beatsmith is slowly making waves on an international level. He is a part of the Divine Atoms crew as well as L.A. based Japanese infused Gin-Yu Clan. To top it off he’s joined beats-focused label Piramd Records out of Mexico and releases music through the unique internet housed label Senzu Art Collective. Mr. Xylo is indeed on his global grind and the hustle continues with his latest release 2003 // HeERO Scott. The beat tape has an underlining concept of Scott finding his old recorded Toonami tapes from 2003 and going back to re-watch them.
He shared: “I wanted to tell a story through classic Toonami cartoons. HeERO Scott is a little tribute to the UK’s version of Toonami, which was cancelled back in 2007. The idea began when my little brother was at my house with my dad, and he was looking at my old VHS tapes and he was like ‘What’s CNX and Toonami?’ This was the first time in my life that I felt old, so I showed him the tapes and while I was watching these cartoons, memories came flooding back. I then thought ‘I should make a tape that will invoke these very same emotions and memories.’ While I was making the EP, I always played tapes of the Toonami shows that I recorded and that put real emotion into the music. I would then sample some of those episodes.” Lets take a look at some of the best moments on this nostalgic project.
DISCLAIMER: Trying to channel my young Cartoon Network years didn’t work when it came to identifying each sample’s origin in the Toonami line up. My money’s on commercial break spots for a few of them but don’t quote me on that.
This little number is a jazzy tune, reworking a 1930s/40s era lounge music sample. Slowing it down and throwing a bit of ambience on the chops creates a nice mellow pad. The bass carries the funk nicely in the track, while the kick and claps are kept to a minimum with a smooth swing to it. The nice placement of random sounds like climbing space effects or “dopeness” is just a bonus to all the perfectly layered audibles. Everything meshes well in this quick track for a good finish.
Starting off with a fade in, the first thing that catches you is the drum loop. The classic boom bap pattern and the layered percussions with the panned tambourines clash at just the right point to make this a head nodder. Tuning into his inner gamer, he adds everything from collected coin sounds to wobbling falling 8-bit sound bites. Then the mood shifts some after a clip from what sounds like “Cowboy Bebop.” He brings in a deep synth organ with tremolo added to change the tone and the sound from bright to dark. All I could think is that this would be an amazing beat to throw on and freestyle to because it stays in the same groove regardless.
“The Last Of a Dying Breed (GBC)”
The intro of this song is unique because it uses the power on screen sound of the Game Boy. He again layers computerized synth and low bit quality organs while keeping the percussions simple. The drum kit itself is basic yet it gives focus to the rest of the harmonies. What I like most about this track is the transitions and how well he identifies them. For example after four bars, the main synths drop out and an airy synth and simple flute pattern take over. This happens again in the second verse, but he replaces the beat entirely with a Mario power up soundbite. Its also a great example of the EP concept being fully thought out. The song appears second to last in the line-up and signifies an end to his childhood era through the title, old shows, Game Boy samples, etc.
**Final Thoughts: Overall, this is not only a good EP but a creative one. While I have heard beat tapes with woven themes and solid production, I have never heard a “concept” beat tape. It did feel like a story was being told, though at times I couldn’t tell the different chapters (songs) apart. Either way, Scott Xylo is a talented producer and these beats all prove his technical abilities are in tact. -Real McCoy