In a culture inundated with oversharing and instant gratification, the practice of subtlety and quiet confidence is something of a lost art. But like any great performer, IMAKEMADBEATS knows it’s better to show and not tell. With his aptly titled instrumental project Better Left Unsaid, the Memphis-based music producer puts on a masterclass in evoking harrowing emotions and bringing his beautifully dark visions to life. The EP is available everywhere music is available for streaming and download, courtesy of IMAKEMADBEATS’ Unapologetic. label.

Cinematic and grandiose in its sound and scope, Better Left Unsaid  seamlessly skates between the worlds of electronic, hip hop, jazz, and downtempo, calling to mind the classic work of similar masterminds like DJ Shadow and Flying Lotus. The menacing “Mother Sang To Us” fuses a neck-snapping drum break to hauntingly sorrowful sung vocals, while “Neon Lift Off” – featuring frequent collaborator and Prince bassist Mono Neon – is a spastic bounce-laden dream sequence of a listen. Created entirely in IMAKEMADBEATS’ Dirty Socks Studios (the most in-demand independent studio in Memphis), Better Left Unsaid also comes with a “Mother Sang To Us” comic book and an  IMAKEMADBEATS flash drive containing exclusive additional music, an IMAKEMADBEATS video game, video content, and more. The project’s release also coincides with the Unapologetic App, which will provide fans worldwide the ability to connect with the collective’s artists and projects in new and innovative ways.

IMAKEMADBEATS – born James Dukes – is a Memphis native,  having grown up immersed in the city’s unmistakable sonic identity.  But despite the definitive identity of the region, he often felt disconnected from the prevalent gangsta rap and more traditional music genres that dominated the scene in the late 90s/early 2000s. After leaving his home to find others with creative approaches similar to his, he would eventually end up in Manhattan’s legendary Quad Studios, where he became a go-to ghost producer and found a new niche in scoring for film and television. Inspired by the idea that music could speak without words – a theme that he would uphold years later with Better Left Unsaid – he further developed the IMAKEMADBEATS persona and mask, and worked with a who’s-who of the indie underground scene in the ‘00s on wax, in the studio, and on stage, including Black Milk, Oh No, Talib Kweli, Solange Knowles, and Roc C, with whom he released the collaborative The Transcontinental project in 2009.

Upon returning to Memphis years later, IMAKEMADBEATS discovered he was no longer the only odd man out in his home. “I found other people that felt like they had no representation creatively, and they too felt like they had to leave,” he says. “I realized that people will never know that others share their outlook if they feel suppressed and don’t speak on things that could possibly alienate them. Understanding that need was there was the start of Unapologetic.”

Better Left Unsaid follows on the heels of an explosive inaugural year for Unapologetic. The record label/creative brand – in which the collective of like-minded, creatively bold artists, musicians, producers, filmmakers, and industry influencers have found a safe haven to create their boldly unapologetic art free of influence or judgement from the outside world – has been a pivotal force in the city of Memphis, with high-profile collaborative projects with the Stax Recording Academy, the Grammy Pro Music Academy, Memphis Music Initiative, and more. Through it all, IMAKEMADBEATS has become an ambassador for not just the brand but the emerging mentality that is starting to shake up the status quo in the city.

“The guy who is known for wearing a mask and never showing his face has somehow been able to get the attention of the city council, investors, suits, and businessmen of this city,” IMAKEMADBEATS says. “And now 2017 is the year where we really unleash what Unapologetic is all about.”