If De La Soul, the Roots, or Q-Tip decided to leave the East Coast, move to the San Francisco Bay Area, and hire a local turntable wizard, DJ Zeph would be an excellent and highly appropriate choice. Zeph, who has a reputation for being one of northern California's more musical hip-hop DJs, shares their alternative rap aesthetic -- an aesthetic that serves him enjoyably well on Sunset Scavenger. The hip-hop vision that Zeph offers on this 2004 release is not confrontational, threatening, or thuggish; there are no violent, thugged-out gangsta rhymes on Sunset Scavenger, and Zeph favors a congenial, good-natured sort of vibe whether he is featuring various MCs (who include Boots, Vursatyl, and Rashaan Ahmed) or providing a hip-hop instrumental. While Zeph's grooves are funky and gritty, they also have a certain jazziness -- the sort of jazziness one associates with experimental rappers such as A Tribe Called Quest, the Jungle Brothers, Digable Planets, Common, and Pete Miser. And like those artists, DJ Zeph is all over the place when it comes to samples. During the course of the album, the West Coast mixmaster samples everything from soul, funk, and disco to fusion and hard bop to Indian music. Clearly, he has eclectic tastes -- too eclectic and far-reaching, perhaps, for hardcore rap audiences. But then, Zeph isn't catering to the sort of listeners who believe that every hip-hop release has to be as hardcore and rugged as Beanie Sigel or DMX -- Sunset Scavenger, in fact, is more likely to appeal to a club/dance/electronica crowd than hip-hop purists. But whoever acquires Sunset Scavenger, this CD paints an attractive picture of Zeph's turntable skills.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
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