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DJ Krush - Stepping Stones

Released on Red Ink Records, 08/8/06

Japanese turntablist-guru, DJ Krush, warps turntables around the world with his latest import tagged, Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best. This "best of/overview" dual disc affair plays like a manifesto of conglomerate hip-hop-trip-hop beats set to thwack off your tweeters and sub woofers. The beatmaker’s hit list scratches up a bevy of metered flows with an entourage of en route rappers and backbeat poets making guest appearances. Amongst this heavy-hit list of fresh hip hoppers: Mos Def, Esthero, Mr. Lif, Black Thought & Questlove of The Roots, Malik B., DJ Shadow (Bay Area native, American counterpart) to name a few.

Disc One calls itself Lyricism, appropriate since it is not only about DJ Krush’s thumping compressed beats but lyrics being sweltered forth. The rap content seemingly important to DJ Krush are in fact found with the lyrics printed in the folded sleeve. Japanese lyrics being rapped are also printed, but unless you can read Japanese it is lost on you. What a wonderful feature to cross reference what you hear and what you think you hear when the Japanese rappers start in.

“Final Home (Piano Mix)” is a chill out to the rest of disc one by the Canadian duo, Esthero fronted with their delicious sultry female vocals. All the tunes are remixed in one form or another, and this one takes a darker corner in the likes of Krush’s urban landscape outlook. Krush and Esthero both share the billing for credits on this tune and with Krush’s beats laid low this is one true quiet gem.

Whilst the second disc called Soundscapes oscillates with instrumental surprises which that it opens with a tune called “Stormy Cloud (Raindrop Mix)" that includes Ken Shima’s fantastic piano sketch, a melodic intro laying down to a forlorn trumpet and then it mixes into a jazzy cocktail mutt messing with your mesolimbic frenzy. The feasts found on disc two presents what sound influences and influxes out of DJ Krush’s residence in Tokyo.

There is the chilled out vibe on his last tune called, “Bypath-Would You Take It? (Static Mix)” and it contains another finger dance with piano again. Then there is this arcade-infested sounding tune called “Duck Chase (Double-up Mix) that makes you wanna rack up your Pac Man gear stick in hand or something like it and put your clomping boots on.

The Japanese end of the rap tunes does not always flow as smooth as the American-washed collaborations, but it is still a good thumb to suck on. With this intimation, DJ Krush has got a snug collection of his stepping stones showing where he has been and where he may take the world in modern hip-hop fashion.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars