The era of “New Vogue” music has arrived. As soon as you press play and listen to the first track off The White House Band’s latest album, Renaissance, the typical hip-hophead is thrown down a musical rabbit hole where everything is unexpected and unfamiliar. It’s soon clear that Renaissance isn’t your normal hip-hop album.
“I try to make music that does not fit into just one genre,” David E. Beats, WHB’s one and only member, explained to me in an interview for Gozamos. “I feel like music should just be the song of your soul, regardless of your skin color or ethnicity. So I just make music that sounds dopesauce to me.”
The guitar-totting 24-year-old D.C. native, now doing his thing in N.Y.C., has created a new sound he’s dubbed “New Vogue,” a genre of music shaped by the artist’s own influences – pop, underground rock and, of course, hip hop.
“New Vogue is a new genre for the genre-less,” he tells me. “It gives a name to a lot of the tunes that are coming out nowadays.”
The genre-less style of the music is immediately obvious once you play a track off Renaissance. It’s confusing at first. You’re not quite sure what Beats’ trying to get at. But then you realize that he’s just trying to make good music, the kind of music he likes to listen to, the kind of music he wants to hear more of.
The production is impressive throughout and unlike anything the average hip-hop listener is used to. The track “A Lover and A Friend,” with its guitar beat, is sure to make anyone bob their head. (And isn’t that what good hip-hop music is supposed to do?) “Dream,” one of the many other guitar-laced instrumentals on the album, is single-versed but expresses a positive message. There’s a surprise guest on “Ghost” – hip-hop saint Tupac Shakur – and the beat is a hypnotic form of psychedelic hip hop. Beats jams out on the song “Have It All,” a Jimi-styled rock track featuring New York City-based group Gangstagrass.
The best track on the Renaissance overall – at least one of the best – has to be “Heavy.” The song fills the ear with a smooth combo of violins and percussion, and the instrumental cuts out at the beginning of each verse, leaving only the sound of Beats’ voice, clear and firm.
“Spirit” comes across as Beats’ homage to Carlos Santana. The song features long electric guitar solos, what some people might call “smoky room” music. I call it “laying on the bed on a Sunday afternoon” music. Whatever it is, it’s good music..
Admittedly, lyricists won’t find much in Renaissance. Beats’ lyrics tend to be drastically simplistic and, at times, unimaginative. There’s a few good punchlines and catchy hooks. It could be said of him that Beats is a much better producer than he is a MC.
But the appeal of the album lies most clearly in this new style of music he’s named New Vogue, which is on full display in every track and challenges standard notions of hip-hop music. It’s like Kanye on acid – and I mean that in the best way.
At the very least, the inspired beats on Renaissance are well worth the price for this trip into Wonderland.