Esta is dope.

I know that that statement alone isn’t helpful to anyone reading this, but it’s not often that a hip-hop beat producer stands out so much from his peers. Esta is more than just a Spanish pronoun. He’s a guy from San Diego who has been making music with the LA-based Soulection label. For the past few months his beats have filled my ears at work and at home probably more than anyone else’s.

In that relative safety of the Internet, the whole genre of slow jamming R&B/hip hop has undergone a quiet mutation. Soulection is at the forefront of that change, with underground artists like Mr.Carmack, Ta-Ku, and Sango. Their songs are heavy on the low-end and Esta isn’t different in that regard. He does strike a balance between sexy silk sheet music and R&B from a bygone era.

As much as I enjoy the strip-club-at-the-end-of-the-world sound of a Juicy J production or the complex sampling of Flying Lotus, there are times when I just want beats that are easy to engage with and disengage from. Esta does that while making everything sound lush.

I was originally turned on to his Soundcloud after hearing “Undress Your Mind.” I was listening to Kaytranada at the time and looking for artists with a similar sound. Also, the woman in the album photo was cute (it’s a cheap tactic, but it worked). Then I listened to “Luna” (the one with Angelina Jolie on the cover. See how effective this is?). “Luna” is a classic, boom-bap style hip-hop beat with a jazzy sample. Esta says in the description that it’s a Joey Bada$$ beat reject. That makes sense, but honestly, I think it would’ve been better with a flow as silky as the beat is. Rakim comes to mind. It’s certainly not the type of beat you’re going to hear on Power 106, but you might on KDAY.

A couple of high energy tracks in his repertoire are dope, too. “Vazilando” is a banger. It’s short at only 2 minutes long, but that’s because the track is simple itself. Basically, it’s a buildup to a (really good) drop; just ride the shock waves out from that. “!!!!” is another super-aggressive beat. I guess that’s why the title is just exclamation points.

Also, fair warning, some of this is explicit. Funny, but explicit. One of my favorite beats of Esta’s is “Thank You.” If you like chilled-out hip-hop beats, then this would work for you. Well, so long as you aren’t worried about the “I’d like to thank your vagina” sample. I think it works, though. You know. In context.

Esta’s biggest track yet has been “Paradise,” a collaboration with Alina Baraz. Soft vocals and percussion that (literally) snaps. What a jam. No wonder it’s racked up over half a million plays. Clearly, I’m not the only one paying attention to this guy.

Like many people living in Los Angeles, I spend an inordinate amount of time tooling around the city with a crappy radio. For those times, Esta has proven a godsend. His music and that from his labelmates at Soulection certainly feels like an antidote for those overexposed to nonstop turn-up. Check out more of his music on Soundcloud.