Lee Bannon began last year with Fantastic Plastic, a producer album featuring rappin’ ass legends like Inspectah Deck and Del the Funky Homosapien, right-now underground types like YU and Chuuwee, and on my favorite track, “Phone Drone,” some dude on YouTube screaming excitedly about getting the new iPhone. Yet, Bannon’s expressive full-length stayed under the radar even as the Sacramento producer’s profile raised significantly, thanks to his involvement in Joey Bada$$’s Pro Era crew, producing “Enter the Void,” featuring Ab-Soul, and acting as tour DJ for the 17-year-old rapper. Fantastic Plastic remains a hidden gem from 2012 rap’s all-over-the-place burst of creativity and you should check it out. Bannon’s instrumental EP, Caligula Theme Music, is worth a listen as well.
For Super Helpful, Bannon’s beats go to Chuck Strangers, best known as a producer for Pro Era (“Daily Routine” and “FromdaTomb$”) but here, rapping with Kwame 3000. As is often the case with Bannon’s work, it’s grounded in underground boom bap, though it never stays in that box for long, briskly moving into zombie soundtrack score synths, trip-hop drift, and new age. And the breezy energy of this Pro Era-associated EP is a cathartic relief after the tragic death of Pro Era member Capital Steez on December 24. Joey Bada$$ guests on “Lawns,” which lopes and squeaks like some lost, especially stoned Quasimoto track, then ends with a Busta Rhymes coda. “2step (apex version)” feels like Nas’ classic demo “Deja Vu” — tape-hiss hip-hop gone Tim Hecker. Super Helpful’s The Help is out tomorrow for free, but you can stream below right now, exclusively at SPIN.