The Importance of TNGHT
The collaboration that changed the hip hop game – A look back at TNGHT’s self-titled EP and the effect it had on an industry
In the Australian winter of 2012 – when our radio waves were graced with the melodies of ‘Call Me Maybe’, ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Starships’ – two forward thinking, innovative hip hop beatmakers bringing fresh ideas to the music industry released a 15-minute collaborative EP that, whilst short, would redefine the beatmaking landscape of music forever.
The EP, TNGHT, a self-titled work from the minds of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice ushered in a new era of hip hop that proved to be so popular it was given its own genre, which exploded in popularity: Trap.
Prior to the release of TNGHT, Lunice was just another beatmaker from Montréal, Canada where he operated popular parties with the help of some uni friends. Yet his musical work landed him a signing on small UK-based record label Luckyme, commonly referred to as “one of the most innovative and prolific independent record labels of the decade”.
The label was home to rising Glaswegian star and mad scientist Hudson Mohawke, who maintained a strong level of success among music lovers with his left field, oddball productions. The stars aligned, the two collaborated and shared some of the things they were working on, and TNGHT was born.
However, TNGHT’s legacy and landmark 15 minutes doesn’t stop there. Following the release of the timeless EP, the duo were approached by Kanye West to help construct Yeezus. Their unreleased track – titled ‘R U Ready’ – became the beat for ‘Blood on the Leaves’, and Hudson Mohawke was signed to Kanye’s label G.O.O.D Music, producing ‘I Am God’ in the meantime. HudMo’s involvement with Kanye didn’t stop there – ‘Famous’, ‘Freestyle 4’, ‘Waves’ and ‘FML’ from Kanye’s 2016 release ‘The Life of Pablo’ were also produced by the Glaswegian native. The iconic blaring horn sound so true to TNGHT became Hudson Mohawke’s trademark after Kanye’s exposure, and was cemented when Apple Music sound tracked an international advertisement with ‘Chimes’.
Along with Kanye, HudMo has enjoyed more and more exposure, producing beats for Drake, Lil Wayne, Pusha T and A$AP Rocky. ‘Lantern’, HudMo’s follow-up to his quirk debut album, was released in 2015 to some success, but his forte lies in two polar opposites of beatmaking for big game rappers and spearheading the wonky, experimental hip hop scene with passion. Whilst introducing his part of the iconic ‘Essential Mix’ series, Pete Tong explained that “Hudson Mohawke is doing the same thing for hip hop as what Aphex Twin did for techno”, a big claim – but true – nonetheless. A dive into the glitchy, colourful, terrifying world of Hudson Mohawke can be found in any of his Boiler Room sets, most potently in this set from 2017.
Whilst there have been numerous hip hop albums over the years that have reinvigorated the game for modern rap music, TNGHT’s 2012 EP sets itself apart from the pack. Not only did it influence the mainstream rap scene, create an entirely new subgenre and push hip hop music forward with Kanye West’s assistance, but it gave birth to (and nurtured) more experimental beatmaking that encouraged glitchy, psychedelic and abstract sounds. TNGHT paved the way for a self-aware brand of hip hop – take producers such as Cashmere Cat and Trippy Turtle, whose early musical careers were shaped by a sarcastic take on the mainstream through meshing unlikely textures and sounds. Oneohtrix Point Never – who achieved critical acclaim for his surrealist and industrial take on classical music – is a long-time friend and admirer of HudMo’s work.
However, it wasn’t until PC Music, a London-based collective, expanded on this mind bending, surreal song style in 2014 with artists such as SOPHIE and A.G Cook seeing a dramatic rise in popularity amongst beatmakers and experimental music ‘IDM’ heads. SOPHIE rocketed to fame for her ‘plastic’ sound – prominent in cuts like ‘LEMONADE’ and the unstoppable ‘MSMSMSM’ – that have resulted in her been called the next experimental pop music queen. A.G Cook, on the other hand, fulfilled this prophecy, becoming modern popstar Charlie XCX’s producer, dripping the alien, synthetic sounds into familiar mainstream music. TNGHT’s genre bending sound has truly come full circle – the 15-minute EP inspired mainstream rappers and experimental beatmakers to such an extent that they eventually have become one and the same.
TNGHT’s self-titled EP is terrific – it’s timeless, innovative and irresistible. But what is just as important as the record, is what it represents: an entirely new wave of hip hop and beats, some appealing to a mass audience, and some pushing the envelope even further by experimenting with sounds and ideas that would not exist without this landmark collaboration.