"I was surrounded by people making music," Eliot Lipp says of growing up in Tacoma, Washington. In fact, watching his brother's garage bands is what got Lipp hooked on music. Then, at age 11, he discovered hip-hop -- an obsession that started with an admiration for rapper and producer DJ Quik. "I've always been impressed with his way of mixing true musicianship with that West Coast hip-hop funk," he explains.
One listen to Lipp's "Rap Tight," a single from 2006's Tacoma Mockingbird, makes it clear that he's applied Quik's approach to his own jams. His finely tweaked electro beats are slathered with a thick coat of fuzzy melodies that are played by hand on Lipp's arsenal of vintage synths; this makes his live gigs way more interesting than your average instrumental hip-hip show.
Before becoming a staple at Chicago's Hefty Records, Lipp spent his early years struggling for recognition. Relocating several times, he finally lucked out when one of his discs landed in the hands of Scott Herren (aka Prefuse 73). But of all his many accomplishments, what psychs Lipp out most is quitting his day job at a coffee shop -- an experience he describes as "fucking awesome."