Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Yes, Texas-based drummer JD Beck is only sixteen years old. But he’s already spent several years collaborating with a wide range of artists in the fertile Dallas, Texas, hiphop/urban music scene. He’s also wise beyond his years and thoughtful about drums and rhythm, which comes in handy when he tries to explain exactly what it is he does.
Mentored by Dallas-area drummers like Robert “Sput” Searight (Snarky Puppy), Mike Mitchell (Stanley Clarke), and Cleon Edwards (Erykah Badu), JD Beck has crafted a style of crooked beats and patterns mixed with over-the-barline fluidity that grooves in its own unique way. Singles and ghost notes fly by, and there’s definitely a pulse. But, especially for listeners whose sense of groove was baked in prior to the envelope-pushing approaches of modern kit players like Karriem Riggins and Eric Harland, everything feels somehow…different. “It’s this thing in the air,” says Beck about the unique drummers coming out of Dallas. “People play beats with this live, jazz feel. And everyone sounds like a computer, a program, which is really cool.”
Beck may have started young and with conventional lessons, but he quickly became inspired by a contemporary musical vocabulary that led him down a new path. There was a precedent set by the electronic offerings of producers like J Dilla and the kit work of players like Chris “Daddy” Dave, and Beck began to get his chops together and develop the internal meter that’s so important to sounding authentic when playing these unconventional beats. Jam sessions were attended and drumming friends made, and calls started coming in from local musicians like Jon Bap.