Dert has been producing hip hop records in the L.A. underground for about 10 years, working with MCs like Ahmad and Micah 9, and producing KRS-ONE’s album “Life.” He’s also released an instrumental album, “Fledgling,” and a mixtape of Jose Gonzales’ “Veneer” titled “Derty Gonzales. “The Short List” is Dert’s second beat tape.
Instrumental albums can give beatmakers the opportunity to color outside the lines of a typical hip hop track, and to try out ideas and sounds that might not work with an MC rapping over them. Dert uses his freedom to get his mellow on, and indulge in his love of Euro electronica. The result is an album that has more in common with the jazz house of St. Germain or downtempo beats of Tosca than anything coming of the hip hop scene.
“Dinner Music” is bossanova with a beat; Dancin’ Butterfly” is acid jazz; “Transitional Period” is straight jazz; and “You Can Do Better Than Drumming” forgoes a beat altogether. Like several other tracks on “The Short List,” it is structured around an acoustic guitar and piano. “San Frangelis” is one of the only tracks on here that sounds hip hop, offering crisp drums over chopped up soul vocals.
Dert is clearly a talented producer, and these tracks all show a lot of care and artistry, but they aren’t that engaging. To put it bluntly, this album is boring. It sounds like the kind of mellow electronica that you might hear at a trendy boutique while shopping for designer clothes, or at a trendy bar while sipping twelve dollar cocktails. Fans of electronica and downtempo music might consider this a masterpiece, but I’d much rather listen to “Donuts” or “The Beatkonducta.”