When news hit about a little known deejay, DJ BK-One and his partner Benzilla dropping a compilation, many were intrigued by the line-up on the disc. After all, it isn’t every day that one sees Scarface [click to read] next to Brother Ali [click to read] or Raekwon [click to read] next to I Self Divine on an album. With the mix of underground and mainstream, the compilation mashes different styles, a testament to the blurred lines of division in the genre and in the music of the world. Still, the question has always been whether compilations like this can be cohesive. BK and Benzilla may be on the lesser known side of the spectrum, but with Radio Do Canibal, they are definitely trying to make a statement without being overshadowed by their better known contributors.
That’s because the roster is as varied and impressive as you’ll find. To begin, however, there are likely mash-ups that work like the Brother Ali and Slug [click to read] assisted “Gitit,” a playful cut to start the party. Following that, Haiku D’Etat bring their legendary Los Angeles flavor with Aceyalone [click to read], Myka 9 and Abstract Rude rocking like it was ‘99. Solo tracks also make for an interesting part of the album, starting with Black Thought’s “Philly Boy” where Tariq drops his usual word-wizardry and well-known flair. Slug (“Blood Drive”), P.O.S. [click to read] (“A Day’s Work”) and Blueprint (“Blue Balls”) showcase the RSE posse, with Toki Wright being the surprising stand out on “Face It.” But the true beauty of the album comes with the unlikely pairings. Scarface invites Brother Ali to Texas to speak on the “American Nightmare” [click to listen], while “True & Livin’” has Raekwon taking I Self Divine to Shaolin. Aby Wolf’s “Love Like That” and the album’s single, “Here I Am” [click to listen], which features Phonte [click to read], Brother Ali and The Grouch [click to read], also bring unexpected match-ups that work, showing that cohesion is present, despite the varied guests. Though not every track is memorable, the impressive line-up lives up to the billing.
With great writers on board, the instrumentation needs to be just as on point or the project falls apart. Fortunately, BK-One and Benzilla decided to provide a refreshing sound. The Bossa Nova flavor, the Samba seasoning and Bahian Folk work to take the listener to a beautiful Brazilian summer. Though hard to compete with the polished nature of Sergio Mendes’ Timeless, which delivered a similar Brazilian fusion with Hip Hop, this album is a body of work that stands out today. The samples on “Eighteen to Twenty-One,” “Mega,” “Blood Drive,” and “Call to Arms” showcase the South American/North American fusion well and The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble drive the point home with the instrumental “Tema Do Canibal.” The Portuguese interludes do a great job of this as well, supplying authenticity for the album.
Overall, it’s hard to knock an album that provides a breath of fresh air. While BK-One travels on his tour, it’s safe to say that he and Benzilla have made a statement with an album that is creatively different from any other that we have heard thus far in ‘09. Though not a classic by any means, it’s a surprisingly solid effort from two newcomers, showing us an appreciation for not only global musical diversity, but also the variety within the Rap genre. Mixing, mashing, sampling and creating, BK-One and Benzilla made their statement a solid one without being overshadowed by a laudable list of contributors.