Rob Sonic – Telicatessen 6/10
“Telicatessen” is the solo debut from Washington DC native and Def Jukie Rob Sonic. This album, written and produced entirely by Rob Sonic, is another release out of Def Jux’s left field (and DJX is already in left field as it is). The wordy emcee may garner some comparisons to label mate Aesop Rock for his complex and abstract lyricism, but the comparisons really end there. Rob rambles along in his unique cadence and flawless flow. No matter the beat, Rob is saddled up and rides it effortlessly. When things are good (“New Car Smell,” “Sniper Picnic,” “Riot Ender”), they are rewind material. Unfortunately the album can drift into monotony sometimes, mostly due to production which can sound too similar at times. Nevertheless, “Telicatessen” is another fine release from the good folks at Definitive Jux.
Awol One – Self-Titled 5.5/10
The hoarse voice of Awol One has been heard throughout the Los Angeles underground for years now. Between his solo work and his Shapeshifters efforts, Awolrus is no new jack to this hip-hop shit. Like all of his work, this self-titled album is nothing but honesty and thoughtfulness from Awol. Like many rappers who deviate from the gun-totting, crotch-grabbing braggadocio of hip-hop, Awol is often dubbed an emo-rapper. So depending on who you are, that could be good or bad. Either way, you won’t hear many other emcees saying “making some noise if you love your mom and dad” as he does over an Evidence banger on “Make.” Another westcoast heavyweight in Kutmasta Kurt chimes in for the albums gem “Believe.” In house producer Transducer does not fare as well behind the boards, particularly in the latter half of the album. Thankfully Omid lends a banger for “Memowrecks” to keep the back half alive. Not the best representation of what Awol One is capable of.
Fingathing – And The Big Red Nebula Band 6/10
This is album number two from the duo of Sneaky and Peter Parker (not the web-slinging one). Fingathing is a band-slash-production team that specializing in otherworldly funk, break beats and various avant garde electronic instrumentals. The upside to this album is the opening track “Walk In Space.” The song is nothing short of incredible, sure to get you amped for the rest of the album. Now the downside is, it never gets that good again. Not to say there isn’t other stuff that will get you open (see also “LAVA” or “Open A Door”), it just isn’t as good as the opener. It isn’t hard to appreciate the uniqueness of songs like “ReAnimo” and “Lady Nebula,” but they fail to hold your interest until the end of the song. Something this 13 song album suffers from all together, it doesn’t hold your attention all the way through. Still a pretty good taste of some freaky spaced out funk.
DJ Krush – Jaku 7.5/10
With Rjd2 and DJ Shadow running amok at the heap of the instrumental hip-hop mountain, they pretty much get all the credit these days for popularizing the genre (Shadow in particular). But before there was Shadow, there was Krush, and his self-titled debut in 1993 is credited by those in the know as the creation of trip-hop, electronic hip-hop, instrumentalist, or whatever you may call it. Over the last decade the Japanese native has released seven albums, many featuring the likes of Black Thought, Pete Rock, CL Smooth, Malik B, El-P and even DJ Shadow. Now 41, Hideaki Ishi is taking it back to his roots with “Jaku.” For those wondering, “Jaku” means peace and calm, a title that could not be more appropriate. Now I realize that this is supposed to be a review, but you don’t really know what you are asking me to do. At the risk of sounding too pretendious and dramatic, this is an album you need to experience. The sounds are thick and rich and the execution is nearly flawless. Plus the guest spots from Aesop Rock and Mr. Lif are tremendous. If you like instrumental albums, get this.