After releasing his debut mixtape Mofongo at the top of the year, Queens-born producer Plat Ramos returns with Vintage Flight, another concept-driven beat tape. This time around, Plat hones in on soul records sampled in classic hip-hop, comparing them to a flight of aged rums. While the identifiable instrumentals (including “Ready or Not Here I Come” by The Delfonics, as used in Missy Elliott’s “Sock it 2 Me,” or “Bumpy’s Lament” by Soul Mann & The Brothers, as used in Dr. Dre’s “Xxplosive”) will certainly have you feeling nostalgic, Vintage Flight is just as much an intimate glimpse into coming of age as an Afro-Latino in New York City. “I don’t rap, but I have a lot to say,” says Plat. “All these songs have meaning and this project has been my diary for the past few months.”
Flight builds on the blueprint laid out in Mofongo, with vocal clips and samples lifted from speeches, films, interviews, and pop culture. Though some are comical and almost tongue-in-cheek (a reverberated clip of the “Damn, Daniel” kid and Spongebob’s Mr. Krabs “Hello, I love money” come to mind), most end up telling a powerful story. As a result, Flight has a stronger narrative arc than its predecessor. Of particular note are clips of Ice Cube, Kanye West, and Allen Iverson (“Letter to My Older Self”) and later, Ice-T interviewing Dr. Dre (“Direct Deposit”) speaking to their passion for their individual crafts and maintaining a sense of pride. It’s clearly something that resonates with Ramos’ own aspirations as a musician.
Flight contrasts old school beats and familiar NYC street sounds (i.e., screaming Dominican moms, the showtime subway performers) with the fact that formerly black and brown neighborhoods are now rapidly gentrifying. “It’s the motherfucking Christopher Columbus syndrome,” says Spike Lee in a sample from a town hall meeting in “Third Rail.” “You can’t discover this, we’ve been here.” Lee continues, “What do they call Bushwick now, [East Willamsburg]? That’s not a thing!” It perfectly represents the frustration of longtime POC residents in these newly desirable neighborhoods.
Vintage Flight’s production stands well enough on its own as sleek, reimagined versions of those hip-hop hits we all love, but its overall themes – masterfully tied together by Ramos through the sampled dialogue – make it truly noteworthy. The autobiographical nature of the project is arresting in such a way that it transcends its “vintage” soundtrack.
If you’re in New York, be sure to enter Plat’s Afropunk Festival ticket giveaway. For more info, click here.