Tuesday, July 18, 2006

DJ Spinna - Intergalactic Soul

DJ Spinna's indie rap resume is as long as his trademark dreads. Coming on the scene in the 90's as part of the Jigmasters, Spinna has always been known more for his production skills than any turntable wizardry. He's produced tracks for Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharaohe Monch, J-Live, Mr. Complex, Masta Ace, Guru, and The Polyrhythm Addicts. But hip hop isn't the Spinna's only bag, he's dabbled in the electronic world and also worked with some soul heavyweights like Donald Byrd, Eddie Kendricks, Betty Carter, Roy Ayers and Al Jarreau.

So should we surprised that Spinna's latest release is an album featuring MC's and vocalists over his production? That was a rhetorical question, but if you answered it anyway, hey, good for you. Intergalactic Soul features a few names, like N'Dea Davenport and Phonte from Little Brother, but for the most part the vocal duties are handled by singers I haven't heard of, but I'm not all that up on the broken soul or jazz fusion scenes, so some of them might be quite famous in their own right.

The album gets underway with two rap jams handled by Alphonso Greer and the aforementioned Phonte. Both of these tracks are solid, but this highlights one of the small beefs I have with the album. Leading off with the only two rap jams does leave the album sounding a little too similar the rest of the way through. It certainly makes for a consistent album, but a lot of the song tempos and vocals are sound so much alike that things blend on the first couple listens. But this isn't really a complaint, in fact it could be a plus if you're into the album from the get go.

Spinna's tracks are all very musical, with plenty of elements mixed together. Drums are the foundation, but Spinna's electro influences show through as there's plenty of synth sounds layered on every track. Horns are used to good effect on the N'Dea Davenport track, Where's Your Love, and I always enjoy the horns, so this one is a standout for me. Outta Time features the Free Radikalz, and is pretty much only memorable because the dude sounds like a poor man's Larry Blackmon (big up to Cameo). Back 2U is another jam I enjoy as the drums and catchy bassline push the track along quickly, while some synth stabs add to the catchiness. Some dude named Selan does good work on the vocals. I have no idea why, but the Kraftwerk homage Computer Love is perhaps my favorite jam on here. It's an instrumental jam (albeit with occasional, funky computer-voiced singing) that features slow-paced, knocking drums and some crazy 80's snyths that apparently sound a whole lot like Coldplay's Talk. So did Coldplay rip off Kraftwerk? Just one man's opinion, but I bet they did.

Spinna has put together a decent album, but its not for the kids. This is your Dad's hip hop, or rather a hip hop-influenced album for grown ups. That's perhaps a bit of exaggeration, and doesn't make the album sound like much fun, but really I'm just trying to say it's an album for a mature hip hop audience. So if you're a fan of DJ Spinna's previous work or have any idea what terms like broken soul or jazz fusion refer to, I'd check out Intergalatic Soul.

Posted at 10:56 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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