BECK - GUERO

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Album: Guero
Artist: Beck
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Where to begin? Beck's last effort was a complete 180 of style. He dropped the computer beats and white man raps, and went with the acoustic, emotional style that had hipsters praising his efforts. It was a solid album, no doubt, but anyone who grew with Beck knows he is at his best when he is funking out.

Guero, leaked early and often, no one was sure of the actual tracklist, or what the beats were going to actually be. What it is is a return to all the things Beck does well. The Dust Brother's produced this album and it takes part of the madness of Odelay, and the funk of Midnite Vultures. Throw in the emotion Beck drew upon on his last release, and you have Beck's best album to date.

The album is a mix of pop, funk, and hip hop. It is sure to be pounding at parties and in cars as they cruise down Queen. The title track, is as funky a song as I have heard in years. Girl plows ahead, nestling an acoustic riff, and a catchy chorus over a driving beat. This album, like most of Beck's other releases has to be heard to be appreciated. White dude, computer beats, rapping and singing. Sounds generic, but when done right, it sounds great. Beck is one that can do it right.


LIKWIT JUNKIES - THE L.J.'s

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Album: The L.J.'s
Artist: Likwit Junkies
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Likwit Junkies is a two-man outfit consisting of underrated West coast MC Defari and world renowned turntablist DJ Babu. They've joined forces for this side project of sorts to release their debut album The L.J.'s. Both have been affiliated with the Likwit Crew over the years, so I guess it was natural for them to incorporate the Likwit theme into their name.

Defari Herut was brought into the game by E-Swift, DJ for the legendary Alkaholiks (I can't bring myself to say "Tha Liks"), and probably never got the attention he was due. He's got a cool voice and an excellent flow. He's got a Masters degree from Columbia too, so you know you're not gonna get any generic West Coast gangster rapping from the man born Duane Johnson Jr. I played the hell out his debut album, Focused Daily, back in 98. Babu is a turntable legend. He's won DMC and ITF titles, and has been down with the World Famous Beat Junkies for ages. Recently though, he's probably best known for being the DJ for underground stalwarts Dilated Peoples and for his Duck Season mix tape series. But you can add producer to those qualifications now, as Babu produced this entire album.

And a good album it is. These guys aren't lying when they say they decided to do an album together because they had some good chemistry in the studio. Babu's mellow West Coast underground beats match Defari's flow almost perfectly. As a result the album has a very cohesive feeling. Kind of like hip hop used to be, like Guru and Premier. One MC, a couple guests, and one DJ doing the beats and scratches. Not 12 "hot" producers and 42 guest MC's. But I digress. The album just has a nice vibe to it, good summer listening if you're a hip hop nerd or hipster-type.

The L.J.'s also delivers a nice wide range of topics in the lyrics department too. There are a number of songs talking about LA, but they're mostly coming from different angles, so it doesn't sound repetitive. The Hop is a classic big up your hometown track, The Ghetto and Salute give old school LA with it's roller skates and jheri curls some love, while Dark Ends talks about some places no one wants to see. One Time takes on the crooked police with some assistance from Strong Arm Steady's Krondon and Planet Asia. They also have a roots-reggae flavoured jam, 6 in the morning, which has the potential to be cheese, but actually kind of works. So it's mostly all good things from the L.J.'s, except for a couple songs that feature some dude named Dodee Westbeach. This guy sings then hooks for The Good green and Dreamgirl in some high-ass goofy voice. I'm not sure if he's for real or not, but he sounds like a rejected New kid on Dreamgirl.

But this album's pretty easy to sum up: if you like anything either Defari or DJ Babu have been involved in, I'm guessing you'll like this. Quality west coast underground for the summer, get yourself a copy today.



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