DJ Format

A Right Earful, Vol. 1

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DJ Format's first mix program for the well-regarded Antidote label is a brilliant collection of progressive and mainstream hip-hop along with occasional interludes of classic soul. He distinguishes himself from many of his DJ colleagues by keeping the cutesiness and special effects to a minimum, leaving the focus where it should be -- on the tunes he's selected and on his tastefully wielded turntablist technique. Not everything included on the album is equally wonderful, but that's part of the fun of a program like this: Edan's "Humble Magnificent" proves the rule that some grooves are rare not because they're cool and obscure, but because they suck, and Ugly Duckling's "Almond Rocha," while clever, ultimately amounts to little more than a hollow exercise in retro-chic product placement. But , just about everything else on the album is killer. The Brand New Heavies throw down mightily on the aptly titled "Bonafied Funk," and an extended tag-team format works very nicely for King Tee, Nefertiti and MadKap on the horticultural "We Got the Fat Joint." Even the Upsetters make an appearance, on a muscular remake of James Brown's "Popcorn." Highly recommended to all adventurous hip-hop heads.

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