Dirty Art Club is a production act from Charlotte, who started as a duo with Madwreck and Matt Cagle collaborating on beautiful instrumental albums such as Heavy Starch and Vermillion. Madwreck left the group around 2015, but Cagle carried the name onward with releases like 2017’s Basement Séance, and 2019’s Mystic Drive-Thru. Now he returns with a new expansive beat tape, Gardens.

Dirty Art Club isn’t necessarily doing anything new with Gardens. This is a double album-length beat tape that is built around sampled-based boom bap beats. On paper it doesn’t seem like anything all that special. However, it’s not the style of Gardens that sets it apart, it’s just how well it’s made. In the hands of most producers, you absolutely don’t need a double album of midtempo soul-sampling beats. In the hands of Dirty Art Club, everything is so nuanced and varied and well-constructed, you don’t necessarily notice the length, and you’re certainly reminded of just how good this form of hip hop production can be in the right hands. Sometimes that means going the extra mile to dig up some samples that will surprise you and through you for a loop, other times it just means putting together a groove so beautiful and undeniable, you just get lost in it and forget about the world for a while. It’s also about being clever about flipping these samples, chopping them in unpredictable ways, and really transforming them into something new and all their own. Dirty Art Club also does an expert job of deploying short vocal clips and moments of novelty – just enough to get the wheels turning in your brain, but never disrupting the flow of the tape. Really, Gardens is about pressing play, and then nodding along as you get lost in a master class from Dirty Art Club as they teach you the finer points of hip hop production.

Sometimes it’s not about doing anything new, it’s just about doing something extremely well. Dirty Art Club aren’t trying out a new formula with Gardens, they’re just showing you that they are better at making soul-sampling boom bap beats than 99% of you fools.