The first track, Bill by Tin Hat Trio is a mellow acoustic guitar and string arrangem... fzzztttt! *skip to the next track* - it's a really trippy instrumental tune that I couldn't get into. Rope-a-dope records have put out some cool releases - DJ Logic, Kid Koala's Bullfrog project, the Philadelphia Experiment and Scratch from The Roots, but I just don't get where this fits in.
Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw label hailing from San Francisco is known for bringing out the best in Bay Area hip hop beats and MC and now they've put their efforts into putting out some nu-skool funk, nu-jazz. They represent twice here with Yesterday's New Quintet on Too High - a Stevie Wonder tune redone by Bay Area MC Madlib (aka Quasimoto) into laid back jazzy beats with a nice piano solo, keyboards and scratching all the way through and DJ Rels Diggin In Brownswood - an uptempo salsa groove featuring some weird scratching toward the end. It's actually the last track on the CD. Nice work from Stones Throw!
Adding a little soul food to the mix are three male vocal soul tunes in succession - Amp Fiddler Eye To Eye - slow, head nodding R&B. The 80's funk style bassline is wicked and probably makes the tune. Peven Everett's I Can Give It is a mixture of hip hop rapping with R&B/soul vocals which is nothing really new however the jazzy piano and vocals is a change from all the "bling bling" style that infiltrates the scene. Having heard the housey DJ Spinnah remix of "Days Like This", Shaun Escoffery steps into this CD with the nu-jazz groove of Let It Go available on his self-titled album. It sounds pretty sweet with the piano and syncopated bass drum beats accompanying Shaun's vocals.
Well respected MC J-Live raps over the swingtime beats on A Charmed Life. The drums sound dope using plenty of breaks and drum fills to add some variation to what could have just been a simple been a simple beat. Add to that some bass and xylophone for a new brand of hip hop.
Seelenluft get the double bass out of the machine gun case on Manila. Spy-themed bassline and drum beats and off-key lyrics which seem to make no sense. It has a slight Red Snapper feel to it especially with the bass. Continuing on with the nu-jazz is Susume Yokota on King Of Darkness a definite contrast from the previous tune as it features the sweet vocals of Susumu on a latin flavoured number using a lot of keyboards, percussion and a soft yet audible bassline.
Drum'n'bass producer Flytronix offers up some non-drum'n'bass beats, instead going for uptempo jazzy beats and Spanish/Italian vocals on Lava. Expect no rewinds here, it's mostly groovy beats, sweet vocals, funky bass, Spanish guitar and lots of percussion.
Italy's Irma records are known for bringing out the best in acid jazz, trip hop and groove compilations and LTJ X-perience have appeared on several of them. Ordinary Guy features Latin legend Joe Bataan on a salsa beat, which starts off with just conga drums at the beginning and bringing in the keyboards, bass and even more percussion with Mr. Bataan doing the latin shout-outs. Dharma One's Belong also has a long latin percussion introduction and slowly builds up adding elements into the mix such as flute, synths and Tuomo's vocals.
Metaboman from Germany come in with Kommse - a wicked house tune, which features many samples (male vocals, a horns section and some movie quote) all cut and pasted into a quirky groove before going into the DJ Rels tune as described earlier.
This CD shouldn't really be classified in the mixed CD section of your local music outlet as none of the tunes are really mixed in with each other. It would have been really good to hear it mixed up, but possibly due to the nature of the tunes selected (major differences in tempo and music styles), drop mixing would have been the only thing to do. No matter though, with the exception of the first tune, it's a decent selection of beats and rhythms. Personally I found it best to listen to during peak hour traffic as the clash of urban jazz and the noise of the urban hustle and bustle (car horns, buses and trains) seemed to suit it pretty well.