A fast-rising artist based in Boston, Edan is a true triple threat. Sufficiently skilled as an MC, producer and DJ, he has developed an international following thanks to his charismatic wordplay and otherworldly beats that seamlessly bring together classically minded boom-bap, dusty psychedelic rock and a kaleidoscope of freaky effects.
In just a few short years, Edan has dropped several 12-inch singles; a pair of thematic mixtapes; the Sprain Your Tape Deck EP (Lewis, 2002); and his debut full-length, Primitive Plus (Solid, 2002), which won heaps of praise from JanSport-rocking youngsters and aging b-boys alike. He has also collaborated with some of indie rap's brightest stars (Count Bass D, Mr. Lif and Souls of Mischief, among others) and toured the globe relentlessly, wowing crowds with his simultaneous rapping and scratching routines. On his highly anticipated sophomore LP, Beauty and the Beat (Lewis, 2005), he continues to up the ante, shattering rigid perceptions of what rap music should sound like in 2005.
Upon first listen to any of his material, it's abundantly clear that Edan's sound is all his own. Alternately blurry and razor-sharp, his production tactics and rhyme style comprise a strange but fascinating hybrid of golden-era throwback and 22nd-century futurism. For one, his tracks tend to sport more tripped-out sonic tomfoolery than a Yes-themed laser light show — particularly delay. “I'm just a big fan of delay in general,” he professes. “In smaller intervals or larger intervals, it doesn't really matter. I'm using a combination; sometimes, I use a little digital something, but I'm not really into the coldness of digital effects for the most part. A lot of it is [Roland] Echoplex or Space Echo, stuff like that. Or even, like, a Boss delay pedal, which I use at shows just to make shit sound chaotic.”
Despite his intergalactic leanings, Edan's studio setup is decidedly less high-tech than today's computer-dominated industry standard. “I've always thought that it didn't really matter,” he says. “It's more so about just your creative approach and making sure that comes through more than worrying about what equipment you use. Having said that, I have an MPC, and I have a digital 16-track, like a little Portastudio. Growing up, I used to fuck with the Tascam 8-track cassette joints. But I guess I needed more than eight tracks after a certain point, so I copped the little 16-track, and I've been content with that. Most people will probably think I'm crazy, not using Pro Tools and all that, but I go brain-dead looking at a monitor; it's hard to feel spiritual when there's this box fuckin' staring at you. I can't really get down with it yet. So that's the stuff that everything's fed into. I got the Technics 1200s, the mixer and the Minimoog. I got reverb when it's handy. Anything is possible. You can patch anything into anything. You know, you can patch, like, a golf ball into a vocoder.”
“Anything is possible” is an apt description of Edan's unusual but undeniably charismatic steez. On the new album, he unleashes whirlwinds of aural weirdness, including feedback-drenched fuzz-guitar attacks; backward drum breakdowns; and conceptual lyrics that touch on underappreciated rap pioneers, the animal kingdom and favorite menu items. MC Percee P is paired with Dark Side of the Moon — era Pink Floyd on “Torture Chamber” while the neck-breaking anthem “Rock and Roll” pieces together cryptic shout-outs to the Velvet Underground, Blue Oyster Cult and Jethro Tull. Although it still retains some of the spazzy playfulness found on his earlier work, Beauty and the Beat shows an artist whose style is still evolving and reaching new heights.
“It's different in many ways,” Edan explains. “It's a little less goofy; it's more serious in terms of the tone and atmosphere. It's darker; it's a lot more wide-ranging, a lot more mature. I think I'm better at reining in the sounds. It's more refined, more dynamic. There are parts that are chaotic, parts that are delightful. I'm just getting better at finding my voice and getting across what I want people to find or to catch from my creative output. It's just a superior product.”