The contribution of Asian culture to hip-hop has typically been limited to the whimsical imagery of shoguns and ninjas by American groups such as Wu-Tang Clan. Born in Japan and residing in London, Major Force pays no heed to these popular chop-suey fantasies, approaching the very concept of hip-hop with a pan-global attitude that is far more mindful than that of their American counterparts. Attached to the U.K. trip-hop label Mo' Wax, Major Force West: 1993-1997 collects much of Major Force's recorded output. What one finds is a steady flow of naturally flavored beats and breaks, augmented with a fascinating assortment of instrumentation culled from their native land (sitars on "India 2000"). But what makes Major Force truly intriguing is the cultural feedback loops they create. "Mugen in the Morning" takes distinctly American Hammond organ riffs and filters them through an Asian lens before laying them into a hip-hop forum, while "Sonic Scale for Percussion No. 12" sounds like an assault from early-'80s video games played on home consoles built in Japan. Sadly, this sort of hip-hop (there is no rapping on any songs) usually plays better in foreign countries where listeners don't have to struggle with concepts of authenticity, or "keepin' it real." Your average American hip-hop fan probably wouldn't get it. But for those who appreciate the international web that music can create, Major Force is a potent example of one culture distilling the other, while still maintaining the true flavor.
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AllMusic Review by Joshua Glazer