DJ Hi-Tek

Hi-Teknology 2

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Though he's produced tracks for artists like Snoop Dogg, Blackalicious, G-Unit, Boot Camp Clik, 50 Cent, and Xzibit, not to mention his work in Reflection Eternal and with Black Star, Hi-Tek has probably never gotten the attention he fully deserves, at least outside the rap community. As a way to show off and express his talents, Tekzilla released his solo debut, Hi-Teknology, in 2001, and after moving around from label to label, the follow-up, Hi-Teknology 2, came out in 2006 on Babygrande. Like on his first record, Hi-Tek produces the entire record (the lone exception being "Think I Got a Beat," performed by his son, Lil' Tone, who rhymes, "And I know how to dance/And Snoop Dogg do too/And my daddy do too") and lends his voice on just a few songs, including "Can We Go Back," "The Clip," and the star-studded "Music for Life." For the rest of the rhymes, Tek manages to gather a pretty impressive lineup, getting verses from Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Bun B, Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, Nas, and the Game. More than anything else, this selection and his ability to work with all the MCs just show how versatile he is as a producer, easily moving from the organic Earth, Wind & Fire-sampled "Can We Go Back," to the sparse, aggressive rhythm of "March," to the slow-jammy "Baby We Can Do It," to the guitar-based "Josephine," a partially misogynistic, partially motivational, partially societally critical song that features the musical talents of his father's group, the Willie Cottrell Band. While Tek's beats aren't always extraordinary, they're always respectable, and they fit each track well, generally simple and melodically focused with muffled drums and cleanly layered keyboard riffs. He's pretty good at what he does -- and sometimes, like in "Where It Started (NY)" and "Can We Go Back," closer to great -- and perhaps more importantly, he's consistent. Hi-Teknology 2 does a nice job of presenting his abilities (much more so as a producer than a rapper, though he manages to hold his own: "I single-handedly carried the 'Natti on my back/And I ain't even that big," he brags, perhaps justifiably, on "The Chip"), though if it will be the introduction to mainstream music he's wanted, it's still uncertain.

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