Clams Casino is taking over. If your mind immediately wandered to the clams-on-the-halfshell dish made famous in Narragansett, Rhode Island, chances are you have a strange shellfish fetish or perhaps you’re just not a hip-hop fan.
Mike Volpe, aka Clams Casino, is an Italian dude from New Jersey widely regarded as one of the finest producers in the game today. Besides existing as the exact model of everything Jersey Shore cast member ‘The Situation” yearns to be, Clams Casino has stirred up a quiet ruckus with the release of two instrumental mixtapes in the last year.
The most recent iteration Instrumental Mixtape 2 was released on the producer’s Facebook page last week with a minimal amount of fanfare. Those still reeling from the epic proportions of his 2011 mixtape were quick to snag the new offering before the fileshare dump was pulled offline. For those not quite quick or savvy enough, myself included, the secret world of Clams Casino lurks in plain sight.
Since 2008, Volpe has produced tracks for mainstream hip-hop phenoms Soulja Boy, Lil B, A$AP Rocky and Sha Stimuli. Most of the songs that comprise his instrumental mixtapes are backing tracks from that world.
Freed from the constraints of their vocalists, the album’s constituent parts flow with an ear filling East Coast buzz. Electronic choruses heighten an epic feel while smooth, in-the-pocket beats slow the whole thing down to a punchy, heaving grind.
The formula is remarkably effective. If 2011’s Instrumental Mixtape was an engrossing album worthy of critical praise and cultish fan devotion alike, this year’s follow-up is perhaps even more immense. From the dance ambient “Wassup” to the grinding wobbles of “Kissing on the Syrup,” the fourteen tracks spin a thread from traditional to wonky.
Unexpected additions to the album including one of Volpe’s tracks for The Weeknd and a Washed Out remix which jive well with the offering’s widely accessible feel. In treading some teetering, bass heavy line between Timbaland and Boards of Canada, Clams Casino reinforces some of the hidden talking point of Flying Lotus and other progressive minded hip-hop artists.
Namely, good hip-hop has been and always will be first and foremost good electronica. Beats, patches and samples when organized rhythmically and melodically transcend genre boundaries and only when we attach a lyricist, vocal
style and marketing concept does it become hip hop or EDM or electro rock.
Straight from the seams of pop culture where synthetic light pours through in pulsing waves of rhythm comes Clams Casino.