Beat Junkies founder’s long-awaited debut of original material was worth waiting for.
Mike Diver 2011-03-21
Beat Junkies founder J-Rocc – real name Jason Jackson – has been part of the turntablism scene since the 1980s. His crew, established in 1992, has seen several of its members rise through the ranks: Babu in Dilated Peoples, and Shortkut and D-Styles have seen solo ambitions realised. But while Jackson’s numerous mixtapes and collaborations – he frequently worked beside Madlib and J Dilla – have kept his name riding high, this is his first collection of wholly solo material.
The label responsible for its release, Stones Throw, outlines the man’s intentions on its website: "This is not a DJ album, not a beats album, not a mixtape – this is an original work of instrumental hip hop". And that’s exactly what the 12 tracks of Some Cold Rock Stuf deliver, to the standard one would expect from an artist who has rubbed shoulders with so many greats during his career.
Granted, there are few surprises here – if you own Dilla’s seminal Donuts LP, then you’re already schooled enough in roughly what to expect from this set. Like said stylistic cousin, Some Cold Rock Stuf mixes snatches of vocal samples with beats that engage with immediate effect. Little here is made with cerebral massage in mind; instead the focus is placed on seeing toes, feet, and quite probably tushies move about a bit.
The title Party is anything but ironic, the seven-minute track of parping horns, eastern percussion and Bollywood vibes a perfect fit for any dancefloor. Play This (Also) is the sort of hyperactive funk workout that one imagines Bootsy Collins making if he ever collaborated with The Go! Team, and Too Many Clowns is similarly twitchy of structure, all skittering drums and bubbly bass.
The album takes the occasional turn for the down-tempo, and when it does so there’s a line to be traced back to the enveloping soundworld crafted by DJ Shadow and David Holmes in the mid-1990s – Stay Fresh and Chasing the Sun turn the lights down and the atmosphere up. Elsewhere, woozy productions march towards the same hazy horizons as today’s chillwave crowd – Toro y Moi fans, check out the phantasmagoria of Don’t Sell Your Dream (Tonight).
A long time coming it may have been, but Some Cold Rock Stuf is a disc worth spending plenty of time with after waiting more than a while for. He’s his label’s pick for the "world’s greatest hip hop DJ", and after hearing this many more will side with the opinion.