Still, none of that is as brazen as “Elon Musk,” “LLC,” or “Crypto.” As of this writing, all three tracks are featured on Spotify’s behemoth Rap Caviar playlist, a signal that, sadly, there’s more shilling to come.
The top five beats by Atlanta underground workhorse SenseiATL
Recently I fell into a wormhole of productions by SenseiATL, who has a catalog that ranges from hardened ATL trap to soft pluggnb, with most of his instrumentals exploring the space in between those poles. Due to his chameleonic nature, his name is not often brought up among Atlanta’s heavyweight beatmakers, but he’s been a fixture of the constantly evolving underground scene there for more than half a decade. Here’s some of his best work:
I swear by the run of Larry League mixtapes between 2015’s Not Coming Back and 2016’s Put to Rest. Sensei produced and rapped in the Atlanta-based trio, and his beat for “Flex on Myself” has a hypnotic melody that sounds just as good today as it did when it dropped six years ago.
Wintertime has to be one of the most confusing rappers of the mid-2010s. The Florida MC, who sounded like he was cross faded in the booth, put out a couple of good mixtapes and a single (“Thru It All”) that blew up big enough that Erykah Badu hopped on the remix—and then just disappeared. My favorite song of his is the Sensei-produced “Coach Winter,” where Wintertime sounds like he’s just reading the front page of ESPN.com over booming drums and mesmerizing cosmic noises.
Yachty probably got too big too fast, so he never really got the chance to delve into Sensei’s more spaced-out sounds. “Juug” was never officially released, though it should have been—the airiness of Sensei’s sweet beeps and boops offer a perfect complement to Yachty’s playful flow-switching.
This song may be more than four years old, but it feels of a piece with what today’s best plugg producers, like Cashcache and Glumboy, are putting out. The soaring synths and drum patterns are so calm, providing a winning clash with Nolan’s cartoonishly croaky voice.
A lot of the beats on this list are a few years old, but I believe the best thing Sensei has made to date was from 2021. Authentic Goods, the tape he produced for Tony Shhnow, sounds nothing like the instrumentals he was making early on. These are mostly incredibly soulful, with a Quiet Storm smoothness, and cleanly sputtering drums. “Right Now” is a highlight that’s so soothing it could start a new movement called “Plugg beats to study to.”