Jigmastas

Infectious

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After marking time in the underground for a decade, Brooklyn hip-hop duo Jigmastas finally released their long-awaited debut album in 2001. And Infectious was worth the wait, primarily because of the platform it provides for DJ Spinna -- one of the most creative producers in the game. A passionate advocate of finding and sampling rare beats and breaks, Spinna builds his intriguing soundscapes the old-fashioned way: around a snippet of drums or a snatch of vocal, out of which he coaxes hidden possibilities. "Don't Get It Twisted" is the best example here, getting over on little more than a tap-danced rhythm and a woman's disembodied voice, while the spacey "C.S.S." has a sped-up vocal sample as its disorienting hook. Of course, there are plenty of more conventional grooves, too, most notably on the bass-popping first single, "Till the Day." But Spinna's skills are so dominant that they often overshadow his partner, Kriminul, a solid MC who rises to the challenge occasionally (check the rapid-fire rhyming of "Vent") but also wastes time on run-of-the-mill beefs like the police brutality complaint "Hollar" (which also squanders a guitar cameo from Vernon Reid). Still, the music's so consistently captivating that Infectious more than lives up to its title.

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