Representing the College Point neighborhood of Queens, DJ JS-1‘s moniker stems from his original graffiti name JERMS. Doubling as Rahzel’s [click to read] deejay, JS-1 and the former The Roots member have performed together since 1999 as the world’s only two-man beatbox-deejay group. Similar to his previous album Audio Technician, Ground Original 2: No Sell Out is solely produced by DJ JS-1. The Rocksteady Crew member’s fourth album features more artists than his previous efforts, with over 40 rappers representing coast-to-coast as well as various eras. Laced with the New York native’s beats and scratch hooks, the project features both long overdue and groundbreaking collaborations.
Much-like vintage Funkmaster Flex mixtape-albums, or even DJ Khaled‘s debut, JS-1 likes to put interesting rappers together in his songs – whether nostalgic, thematic or signs of armistice. Over a decade after the beef between KRS-One [click to read] and Canibus [click to read] was first started, the two lyricists share the microphone on “Clear N’ Present Danger.” The track finds some ferocious found lyricism from ‘Bis, while KRS-One‘s booming vocals make the song bigger than life. Later on the album, Canibus is paired with Kool Keith [click to read] and Ced Gee (collectively half of the Ultramagnetic MC‘s) as well as Rahzel and Prince Poetry (formerly of Organized Konfusion) [click to read] on “Brainbender.” Kool Keith channels his 20-plus year old “Ease Back” verse for something that lives up to the high points in three separate careers, made possible by hard-nosed kicks and snares from JS.
On the Redbone-sampled “Ridiculous” [click to listen], Prince Po‘s counterpart Pharoahe Monch is reunited with childhood friend O.C. [click to read]. First appearing together in 1991 on Organized Konfusion‘s “Fudge Pudge,” Pharoahe and the D.I.T.C. member have collaborated on numerous tracks throughout their musical careers, and this remains one of the best showings in a decade. The distinct voices and flows mesh well on a song aptly titled for two men who should be superstars.
DJ JS-1‘s biggest hit from 2009, “Nuthin’,” a track from Sadat X‘s Brand New Bein album, reappears on this album, except with the addition of Brother Ali to CL Smooth‘s track with ‘Dati X. Ali pays respect to both men, citing Mecca & The Soul Brother and One For All in his verse, by rappers that command the attention of a particularly gliding beat, drivin’ but an intense scratch chorus.
While Ground Original 2: No Sell Out boasts an assortment of legendary ’80s and early ’90s emcees, ’00s class members find their space to shine. Nutrageous, Copywrite [click to read] and Jak D take an empty topic, and dazzle it with cocky lyricism on “Sum Rap Shit.” The same is true of “Bang Da Underground,” where Block McCloud, Pumpkinhead and especially Torae [click to read] make the “term” underground as meaningful, and respected as it was a decade ago. Both pairings doing an excellent job keeping up with names like Large Professor, KRS-One and PMD on this all-star album.
Ground Original 2: No Sell Out belongs in the lineage of independent, guest-heavy albums from Marco Polo, Domingo and Evidence. Although he might not get as much outsourced work as those peers, the deejay uses this opportunity to show that he’s an accomplished producer. It’s no coincidence that JS-1 favors kicks, snares and scratches, as his sound closely emulates Main Source, EPMD and Ultramag influences that return on the microphone. This album not only is a great representation for DJ JS-1, but it reminds Hip Hop why many of its legends from yesteryear have never lost a step.