DJ Hi-Tek

Hi-Teknology 3

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The title of Hi-Tek's third solo album hardly differs from that of his first or second (Hi-Teknology and Hi-Teknology 2, respectively), and for the most part, Hi-Teknology 3 follows a similar musical path. As with the other records, the producer is given a lot of space to show his versatility, making beats that work under both hardcore and conscious MCs, as well as neo-soul and R&B singers, tailoring his music to fit each artist appropriately. The problem, however, is that the guests he aligns to fill his vocal spots aren't that impressive, and make the album seem more like the work of a lesser producer who can't quite convince the big-time MCs he's worth their time than one of hip-hop's more gifted beatmakers. While the generally tight duo of Ghostface and Raekwon put up acceptable verses on "My Piano" (which, ironically enough, is guitar-based), Little Brother hardly gets any space on the Dion- (a singer also featured prominently on Volume 2) heavy "Step Ya Game Up Remix," and unknown rappers Rem Dog and Push Montana spit pretty basic, uninspiring rhymes that weaken the quality of the music underneath. Hi-Tek himself has some misses as well, like the very "Oh I Think They Like Me"-esque "Handling My Business" (whose hook actually contains the line "I think they hate me"), "Ohio All Stars," which tries much too hard to sound tough -- although, to give Tek some credit, he never completely falls into cheap mixtape synth clich├ęs -- or "Know Me," an R&B track sung by someone named Jonell that drags on painfully, which can probably partially be blamed on the fact that Floetry's Marsha Ambrosius is a co-writer. In his attempts to display everything he can do, he loses the subtle touches that define his work, and so it is of no surprise the track that features longtime collaborator Talib Kweli, "Time," features the best beats on Hi-Teknology 3, and finds him sounding the most comfortable. It's not that Tek can't or shouldn't branch out -- because he absolutely should -- but that he has the reputation and talent to be more discerning in his MC choices, and needs to employ this benefit in order to keep himself relevant.

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