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4Play: Amon Tobin, Del and the Funky Homosapien, DJ Quik, Whodini

Kristi Kates - May 16th, 2011
Amon Tobin - Isam - Ninja Tune
IDM, or “Intelligent Dance Music,” is what producer/DJ Tobin calls the musical arm of his craft, in which he blends South American rhythms with hip-hop, breakbeat, and a dense layer of samples and cuts. More experimental than previous works, these tracks take some listening before the appeal becomes evident, as they’re crafted with a more haphazard overall feel yet with more attention to each element’s detail and placement. The melodic “Lost and Found” and the intriguing “Journeyman” are two of the standouts on this particular set, both rumbled through with heavy bass and Tobin’s distinctive mixes.
 


Del the Funky Homosapien - Golden Era - The Council
Thank goodness Del moved on from writing tracks with Ice Cube to his own scene, and that of his collaborative and side projects Gorillaz and Deltron 3030. His own album relates more to the latter projects than the earlier, which is a good thing. He reportedly utilized the past couple of years to put this set together, and the effort shows; it somehow manages to both embody classic, old-school hip-hop, and a futuristic musical mindset that makes the tracks fresh, especially on tracks like “Calculate” and “Makes No Sense,” while the wordplay, with a few exceptions, rhymes with more technical proficiency than most in this genre.
 


DJ Quik - Book of David - MS Records
Speaking of old school, Quik is back with his West Coast flair, although with a few roadbumps in tow; the beats here lope along as expected for the most part, but when he tries to throw a few breaks in, they don’t always work as smoothly as they should. That said, West Coast rap fans will find a lot to spin on this album, from opener “Fire and Brimstone” with its unique counterpoint to his later collaboration with the abovementioned Ice Cube himself (“Boogie Till You Conk Out.”) Elsewhere, “Babylon” is a polite (as if) insult-fest, and “Hydromatic” drops in sample work and horns to make for an unexpected arrangement.
 


Whodini - Escape - Traffic
New York trio Whodini hit their rap stride in the mid-’80s, with this album often cited as being one of the early rap classics. Remastered from the original analog tapes, this set, which has long been out of print, includes the original album in its entirety, and captures an era in which rappers had yet to put their focus on sex, drugs, and rap n’ roll - these funky tracks are more upbeat and accessible than one might expect, as evidenced by one of the biggest tunes on the tracklisting (recently sampled by Nas), “If I Ruled the World.” “Five Minutes of Funk” and “Featuring Grandmaster Gee” are other highlights of this retro must-have fave.
 
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