Usually the only thing 24-year-old physical therapy graduate students and rap have in common is the music flowing from the headphones, whether its critiquing in the studio or studying for a final. Clams Casino – Mike Volpe of Nutley, New Jersey – blurs that line, maintaining the hardworking student attitude while producing beats for industry giants like A$AP Rocky and Mac Miller.
In a March 2011 interview with Pitchfork, Volpe simply said he got his start by messaging “MCs on MySpace [...] and simply ‘sent beats to whomever answered.’” The great thing about this interview is how far he’s come since. With Instrumental Mixtape II Clams explores completely new depths for his production, a further elaboration on the more complex moments of his first Instrumental Mixtape in “Motivation” and “Cold War” – both of which ended up being Lil B beats. Clams starts off with “Palace” – a low bass, cymbal crashing track that A$AP Rocky claimed his rap dominance on his LiveLoveA$AP mixtape.
Volpe extracted a little bit of confidence from his sudden fame, peppering his second mixtape with a few of his own remixes, as opposed to the regular lineup of exclusively rapper-produced beats. While his Washed Out “Amor Fati” remix leaves a good outline of the song which he built on, his take on the iconic 2012 song “Born to Die” (Lana Del Rey) leaves nearly nothing but Lana, crooning – way longer than normal.
Amidst his stardom and collaborations, Casino always remembers his roots – the first MC who would really give him the time of day – by putting his backing to Lil B’s “I’m God” to close out the mixtape. It’s a tip of the hat to the Based God, thanking him, because at the end of the day, Volpe is still a physical therapy student, making beats as his “hobby.”