iLL Sugi is a producer from Japan that has been releasing music over the last ten years. In that time, he has worked on a lot of collaborative projects with different artists, including Fitz Ambro$e, Budamunk, and Dregs One. Over the course of the last few years, as Sugi visited the Bay Area, he struck up a relationship with Brycon. As they got to know each other, it was only a matter of time before they made a project together, which is now here in the form of Music for Indoor Cats.

There are different ways to have a two-producer album, but for Music for Indoor Cats, Brycon and iLL Sugi have basically split the album in half and worked in tandem with an understanding of the general style of the project. This way, when you’re listening to the album, you can compare and contrast sides and look for the subtly different ways that the two producers approach their beat making, but you can also listen to it all the way through and just appreciate it as a well-made instrumental album that flows from start to finish. What makes Indoor Cats really enjoyable, though, is that this project is essentially a masterclass in how to elevate an art form without going outside the established parameters. What I mean by that is that Brycon and iLL Sugi are generally just giving us a split beat tape full of instrumental downtempo hip hop. However, when you start to listen to it, the music will almost immediately separate itself from the tons of generic instrumental hip hop that is released all the time these days. They do this by not reinventing themselves, but by pushing each other to bring their A Game and go hard with musical subtleties. This can mean choosing sample sources that are outside the usual conventions of soul and jazz, but it can also mean picking samples and loops that aren’t obvious rhythmic patterns or melodic lines, which in turn forces them to be more creative with their compositions, which then engages their audience to listen much more actively. This isn’t just a project to vibe out to, it’s a project to get into the weeds with and appreciate what happens when two talented and hardworking producers throw down the gauntlet with each other and fuel each other’s creativity.

Music for Indoor Cats might seem simple enough at first, but Brycon and iLL Sugi didn’t bond over “simple enough.” They pushed each other to make some of their most musically challenging and creative beats of their careers, and we’re all better for it.