Lazerbeak is a thug. Do not be deceived by the nice-guy introductions backstage. Beak is responsible for some of the hardest lavabangers in hip hop, period. Catchy, rib-crushing, filthy. In his basement workshop, Beak works mostly with a MPC2000XL. He layers propulsive, hard-hitting drums with driving guitar and keyboard melodies. He paces after the addition of each element, ducking to avoid the overhead pipes, playing air drums, and calculating his next layer. Beak’s sequencing is a large part of his sound. “After you’ve got the main structure, to make it a real song, you have to take it all part again. It’s like a battle with the beat, every time.” And Beak always wins. When it’s over, the effect is some helicopter-at-the-omnitheater shit. He’ll take a beat down to its most essential elements before letting it off the leash to explode into anthemic proportions.
Lazerbeak is one of the seven members of Doomtree, Minneapolis’ ascendant hip-hop collective. He’s most well known for his rib-crushing production. He’s contributed beats to Wale, P.O.S, Dessa, and almost every Doomtree project. But his career started many years before he was making rap music. As a fourteen year-old, Aaron Mader—not yet Lazerbeak—formed a band with three of his best friends. They called themselves The Plastic Constellations. They were earnest and exuberant. And they were really effing good. Spin called them child prodigies. By the time they turned fifteen, they’d played the First Avenue stage (Minneapolis’ historic venue, in which Prince filmed Purple Rain.) TPC made music together for twelve years, signed to Frenchkiss Records, and inked distribution deals in North America and Australia. They toured with The Hold Steady, earning praise from major critics (Reader’s Digest, MTV.com) and from notoriously hard-to-please indie tastemakers (“I went home a believer.” – Pitchfork Media).
While still playing and recording with TPC, Mader got involved with the Doomtree crew through his high school friendship with Stefon Alexander, now known as P.O.S. (To keep things in perspective, Mader is still years away from legally buying booze at this point in our story.) Beak got a loan from his folks to buy his first MPC from Guitar Center. Stef came over in the afternoon to show him the ropes. No looking back. Enter Lazerbeak. To date, Lazerbeak has produced over 400 beats. With Doomtree he’s toured North America, playing his MPC live on stage. The press often cites Doomtree’s innovative production as a defining characteristic of the collective—due in no small part to Lazerbeak’s layered breaks, driving guitar lines, and generally neck-snapping orchestrations. In September of 2010, Doomtree proudly presented Lazerbeak’s full-length record Legend Recognize Legend. He wrote, sang, played, and programmed the entire project, with a few contributions from his teammates in TPC and Doomtree. It’s bold, infectiously melodic, and it draws from the full range of Lazerbeak’s musical experience. Legend Recognize Legend has the enthusiasm of the TPC era; the lyrics of a mature songwriter; and the fresh sound of a talented musician pushing himself to break new ground.