Some say rock music found its place in hiphop when Deborah Harry rapped on Blondie's "Rapture," or when Aerosmith walked Run-DMC's way. But it's always been there, going back even before DJ Kool Herc flipped a loop for the first time. It took a few decades for someone to come along and realize what psych rock from the '60s could bring to the art of rhyme and beat science, the way rapper/DJ/producer Edan did. On his quintessential 2005 masterpiece Beauty and the Beat, the Berklee College of Music alum mined some of psych rock's most precious gems and chiseled away at them on the sampler, building a structurally sound album from the ground up, with all wall surfaces tagged by his verbose, multisyllabic lyricism. Beauty and the Beat is the house where he puts a voice in the music and the music in a rhyme.
Once you put it on for the first time, you come out 37 minutes later a changed person. That can be said about very few hiphop records of the 21st century (sorry, Kanye). It's a constant stream of psychedelic tones, lucid imagery, deep bass lines, riff-based loops, and other-dimensional layers that backspin or flip into funk mode, while Edan's quick-spitting tongue lashes out concentrated insights with impeccable precision. No interludes, no bullshit.
This is an album painted for the senses, in which natural psychedelic experiences can occur without the use of drugs—an effect Edan captures on "I See Colours" and "Beauty." You can feel the lyrical pain demonstrated on "Torture Chamber," his collaboration with Percee P (Gravediggaz fans take note). You have seen everything about Beauty and the Beat with your eyes closed, felt it with a phantom limb, and heard it in the rustle of tree branches or just the wind blowing around in your mind.
Six years have passed since Beauty and the Beat dropped, but like war veterans who can't stop replaying their unforgettable scenarios, you'll never be able to erase the first time you heard the record. Not that you'd want to. This music is a helluva drug.