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Arts and Entertainment

Best Beatmakers

Dwayne “Headphones” Lawson and Brandon “Bealack” Lackey

Mania Music Group’s dynamic personalities make it easy to forget in-house producers Dwayne “Headphones” Lawson and Brandon “BeaLack” Lackey, but the brilliance of Mania’s debut album, Welcome to the Audience, hinges on the production duo’s sprawling approach to beatmaking. Dominated by aggressive drums and intricate guitar work (it’s nearly impossible to tell where sampling ends and live instrumentation begins), Headphones and Bealack do post-Neptunes snap on “Love Thang,” seething bitter boom-bap on “U Might Think,” and choked, jazzy weirdness on “Reagonomics.” Most importantly, though, there’s a mind-meld here between the producers and rappers, as Midas, Kane, Ron G, and Milly confidently stretch their styles to fit Headphones and BeaLack’s widening vision of hip-hop.

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