DJ Krush

Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best (Lyricism)

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After a dozen years of releasing unique beats, warped turntablist constructions, and hip-hop that's subterranean yet somehow connected to the genre's golden age, Japanese turntablist and producer DJ Krush released two remixed best-of CDs -- one with vocal cuts, one with instrumentals -- that offer a snapshot of his career for newcomers while giving longtime fans some new angels on tracks they've most likely devoured by now. Some numbers are drastically remixed, some are lightly dusted, but overall it seems he worked really hard on making both volumes of Stepping Stones hang together; quite the accomplishment considering any Krush construction can pull from any number of genres on its own. The new touches Krush has put on these cuts are dark and detached, just check how "Final Home" with Esthero sounds more "late night" than ever. The remixes flow from one to the other extremely well but what's amazing is how supportive the man can be without surrendering his own style, especially surprising when you consider these cuts are now "re-imagined." Collabos are everywhere in above- and underground hip-hop, but Krush really nails the "working together to create something new" thing better than most, proving he's not just gifted but smart, and not just a music producer but a music fan. The high-grade lyrics brought by Mos Def, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, and practically everyone else makes choosing highlights almost impossible. While Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best (Lyricism) is a success, it's best to skip this single-disc Japanese release and look for the American two-CD set which combines this disc with its instrumental counterpart, Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best (Soundscapes).

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