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The Audience's Listening

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Album Review

Cut Chemist's first non-mix full-length CD has been long awaited by the legions of turntable nuts and hip-hop fans who think he's DJ Shadow's heir apparent, and while it's not the mind-blower that Brainfreeze or Live at Future Primitive Sound Session are, it is a well-crafted, highly enjoyable effort that overcomes the "all samples cleared" challenge all big-label turntablist albums must face. Chemist's diverse background — having worked with or been a member of Ozomatli, Jurassic 5, Unity Committee, and Less Than Jake — pays off on this incredibly diverse album that tempers scratch-heavy feats of skill — the robot-obsessed "(My 1st) Big Break" and the crazy "Spat," which finds a Laurie Anderson sample exchanging pleasantries with Jamaicans and records from the '50s — with more musical numbers that offer plenty of substance once the "wow" factor has played itself out. Best of the latter is the luscious, Astrud Gilberto-borrowing "Garden," which falls somewhere between Zero 7 and Bill Laswell's worldbeat mashing. Perfect for cool backpackers, "What's the Attitude," with rapper Hymnal, has that catchy hook you can sing, while "Storm," with Edan and Mr. Lif, gloriously rips through the speakers with William S. Burroughs, '80s electro, and underground lyrics kicking it in perfect harmony. Add "Spoon" and the closing "Theme," and you've got the tracks that warrant repeat listens for everybody, but the rest of the herky-jerky mayhem and clever, often humorous manipulation is more for the Chemist/DJ Shadow/Steinski devotee who will sit back and marvel at Chemist's skill. Necessary if you like that wikki-wikki-scratch; recommended if you enjoy impossible pop and hip-hop from the fringe.


Born: 04 October 1972 in New York, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

As well as being one of the ablest solo turntablists on the globe, Cut Chemist is also a member of two highly rated crews: underground rap kings Jurassic 5 and the Los Angeles Latin funk band Ozomatli. He came up with the L.A. rap group Unity Committee, and debuted on wax with the B-side of UC's 1993 single "Unified Rebelution." The track "Lesson 4: The Radio" was a tribute to and continuation of Double D and Steinski's seminal hip-hop collage masterpiece "Lessons 1-3," and included nods to Indeep,...
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The Audience's Listening, Cut Chemist
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