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[Off The Record]
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DJ Hi-Tek

Hi-Tek emerged in ’97 with " 2000 Seasons, " a mature, piano-driven debut single that rekindled the jazzy production values of early-’90s hip-hop. The Cincinnati native cultivated his sonic signature over the next few years, punctuating minimalist tracks with wandering, liquid bass, refined strings, and shimmering ambient touches. After producing rapper Talib Kweli’s acclaimed Reflection Eternal (Rawkus) last year, Hi-Tek finally finished work on his first full-length. The result suffers from the same problem that often plagues producers who go out on their own — the incoherence that comes with too many voices mingling amid the monotony of a single production style.

Hi-Tek doesn’t even try to bridge the gulf between the thugs who put in cameos (Cormega and Buckshot) and the conscious rappers (Kweli and Mos Def). " The Sun God " finds Common delivering some of his sharpest Marvin Gaye–style street reports over a bubbling bed of funky licks and horns. Kweli doesn’t fail his friend either, though their brief meeting on " Theme from Hi-Tek " ends prematurely. A couple of other promising tracks — " Theme " and " Tony Guitar Watson " — run short; less appealing collaborations with Jinx Da Juvy, Slum Village, and Mos Def seem to drag on for an eternity. So Hi-Teknology comes off more like a spotty compilation than a well-defined artistic statement.


Issue Date: June 14 - 21, 2001

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