Beat Battle nurtures education and revolutionary roots of hip-hop

Producer Bryan Hamilton gets psychedelic. - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Producer Bryan Hamilton gets psychedelic.

San Antonio Producer Beat Battle and Calmeca CD release party


Doors 9pm, Sat May 28

Limelight Music + Drinks, 2718 N St. Mary’s

(210) 735-7775,


The new recession may be taking a “low-and-slow” attitude towards recovery, but local producer and musician Bryan Hamilton isn’t having any of that business. “Music is my nature,” he said recently. “I’m on my way to six albums and/or mixes of originals this year. I don’t get caught up in unnecessary distractions.”

With that level of productivity, it may be a given that the 27-year-old Corpus Christi native is skilled at crafting ethereal mix tapes — 2010’s Liberated Hasbeens features sleepy, haunting remixes of Busta Rhymes and Notorious B.I.G. — but he’s also trying to make art for the greater good. His upcoming San Antonio Producer Beat Battle and Calmeca CD release party, to be held at Limelight this Saturday, is a threefold celebration of education, music production, and lyrical consciousness, with all proceeds from the event to benefit the Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering, a college preparatory school on SA’s Southeast side.

Beat Battle pits eight producers against one another in three rounds of audience-judged showcasing. The goal is to highlight music producers, who generally play larger creative roles in hip-hop than in other music genres. Lastly, the event celebrates the eponymous debut from the Hamilton-produced rap supergroup Calmeca featuring MCs 4Rios, Chimalli, Itzli, Joaquín Muerte, Karim, and Raw Boogie. Hamilton described the group’s music as a socially conscious foil to the mainstream.

“We have songs addressing the stereotypes and stigmas that have been placed on Chicano culture,” he said. “Skill and heart are placed at the forefront of the songs, rather than your average egotistical nonsense. [We’re] using the musical and lyrical artistry as a weapon, rather than just a simple tool for self-exploitation.”

Also on the bill: Chisme, Flaco Chango, Mad-One, Get Lifted, Alyson Alonzo, and Jeff Escamilla.

Like Nas, Lupe Fiasco, or k-os, Hamilton thinks mainstream hip-hop is in a bad place. When he thinks of how to fix it, he sums up his feelings in the phrase “Taking it back to ’88,” before the crossing over of gansta’ rap and concurrent galvanization of southern hip-hop.

“No longer are acts like A Tribe Called Quest or Rakim on the radio or TV,” he said. “People in our country, now more than ever, are being force-fed the idea of identifying with the bodily concept of life, by being desensitized for material gain.”

Some may see Hamilton as a bit of a preachy idealist — he is, after all, deeply immersed in Eastern spirituality — but he has big plans for using music to improve communities socially and artistically. He launched Dreamland Collective Music Group last year, bringing in groups like Gunshot Hopes, Aliens WITH Halos, and now Calmeca. Hamilton hopes to make events like the Producer Beat Battle a quarterly venture, with the songs serving as a driving force for community development.

“Every song must have a message,” he said. “Otherwise, I am not doing my service for God. Otherwise, I have no use.”

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