Arts Desk

One Track Mind: Rick Rab’s Prance

Standout Track: No. 3, the abstractly soulful “I Got U,” which weaves peripatetic percussion around glitzy synth figures and an ’80s-inflected female vocal sample. Despite its obvious dance-music elements, it’s really a freaky head-nodder—as are many of the cuts on Prance, which Rick Rab says will be released before the end of the year.

Musical Motivation: “I don’t tell the songs what to do, they tell me what to do,” says the Baltimore beatmaker, who came to prominence as one-third of the Silver Spring experimental hip-hop group Food for Animals. Rab, aka Nick Rivetti, says the track “sat for months in a state that sounded nothing like the final version. When I rediscovered it, it was a little synth doodle with barely even a beat behind it. I kept adding bells and whistles until it became almost a pop tune.” (Rather than seek out remixes, he asked for videos, and “I Got U” has at least two already.)

Diva Incognita: Rab’s song-building technique is so in-the-moment that he’s not even sure where the vocal sample came from, although he has a hunch it was from a “late-disco, proto-house” track. “Sometimes, instead of looking for that perfect sample to load into the MPC [sampler], I just keep hitting shuffle in iTunes until something good pops up and then just load that,” he says. His pile of production gear is equally ad hoc. There’s a laptop at the core of it all, but “no one is too impressed with my synths,” he says. “They’re all rugged hand-me-downs.”

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