Hi-Tek – Hi-Teknology

Hi-Tek - Hi-TeknologyHi-Tek. One half of the Hip-Hop duo Reflection Eternal (as seen on the LP Train of Thought), in-house producer for the conscious rap scene’s favorite team Black Star, staff producer for Dr Dre’s Aftermath label and possibly the most talented beat maker in the whole camp; I first stumbled upon DJ Hi-Tek listening to Talib Kweli, as most can relate, and instantly recognized his prowess and soul. This, his first and only solo release, allows him to finally do a CD the way he wants it done.

 

1) Scratch Rappin

This is, obviously, produced by Hi-Tek himself. It’s a scratchy-sounding instrumental, aptly enough; a chopped, vintage-sounding piano starts off over a kick-clap combination that serve as the drums. Instead of rapping over the beat, Tek uses samples to get across what he wants said, then lets the instrumental play out. (Good)

2) Sun God ft. Common

A light, bouncy (sunny, if you will) string over an eclectic drum sets the mood here. Common obviously feels at home on the beat, using his full arsenal of wordplay. He speaks in an abstract, roundabout way about finding happiness. He gives us heavy visuals of the block; broken glass, weed fiends, prostitutes; one can envision a sunny day in the ghetto, and finding joy despite one’s surroundings. (Excellent)

3) Get Back pt 2 ft. Talib Kweli, DCQ

Kweli begins the track acapella, warning the listener to respect his personal space; immediately, the dangerous Spanish-flavored guitar and shuffling rattlesnake effect jump in to back him as he starts one of the righteous tirades he’s known for, about love of true music. DCQ merely jumps in to spit the chorus and do some hype man work. (Great)

4) Breakin Bread ft. Donte, Main Flow, Brian Digby Jr, Crunch

This beat has a more nostalgic, Primo-quality feel to it, a repeated but never repetitive string-and-kick combination with a horn thrown in; samples kick off the track. Donte comes in first with a rapid flow, spitting a nice verse full of internal rhyme; dispensing with the hook, Main Flow jumps on with a slower and huskier delivery, using vocabulary to his advantage at points. The sampled hook returns, then it’s right into Brian Digby Jr, yet another internal-rhyming, wordplay-kicker, verse nice but strongest at the end. Crunch is the strongest on the track, cutting loose from the rest with a multi-styled 16 to keep it fresh. (Good)

5) All I Need ft. Cormega, Jonell

Somehow sounds influenced by Dre’s original The Chronic, the style of production from that era; a deep-bassed, multilayered construct of piano chords, 3 or 4 in all, of a variety of notes. Cormega spits heat to his woman about loving her but needing to make money on the block. Jonell is smooth on the hook, playing the part of his girl. Right at the end of the track the beat changes, a more jumpy offering, then quickly fades out. (Great)

6) Where I’m From ft. Jinx da Juvy

Utilizing (unfortunately) the same sample he put on Talib Kweli’s “The Blast,” Hi-Tek provides Jinx with an organic, bassheavy backdrop over which to boast to his heart’s content. Jinx spits his aggressive thug-themed lines with heart, if only a decent amount of skill. (Decent)

7) Tony Guitar Watson

The next joint kicks off on a more thoughtful note; uptempo drums beat away at some kind of warped (also uptempo) string, while a cinematic violin-type instrument plays in the background. Like Scratch Rappin, this is an instrumental track, and a good one. (Good)

8) Round and Round ft. Jonell

A regretful, R&B-styled string drops in over a thumping bass/shuffle drum production, while Jonell flexes her singing skills. She croons longingly but firmly about her on-again-off-again relationship, high-toned on the chorus and smooth in the verses. Around the second verse, a bass solo takes over for the breakdown. (Great)

9) Get ta Steppin ft. Mos Def, Vinia Mojica

A sluggish, jazzy track that sounds like something off of Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides; Mos intros crooning to an unidentified woman, with Mojica playing background vocals. Though not excersizing his lyrical talents, Mos clearly enjoyed making the cut, and it shows in his performance. (Good)

10) Theme From Hi-Tek ft. Talib Kweli

Over an oldschool, 70’s-flavored track, Kweli rhymes a quick, frenetic verse about his own skills and repping his music. A change from the slow mood of the previous track, but nothing out of place and certainly a great effort. (Great)

11) LTAH ft. Slum Village

This track is a bit bubbly, a disjointed kind of woman track. It’s not my favorite beat; the Detroit duo rhyme pretty well about meeting a woman at a bar one night, but nothing special. (Poor)

12) Suddenly ft. Donte, Main Flow

An Italian-styled, haunting guitar (accordion?) that sounds like something out of one of the Godfather’s Italy scenes drops in over a marching drum. Donte and Main Flow come in to drop nice verses about clubbing and flossing. However, the substance is out of place over the otherwise interesting and good beat. (Decent)

13) Illest it Gets ft. Buckshot

The bass heavy drums come pounding in first, followed quickly by the triumphant sound of a distant electric guitar. Boot Camp Click’s Buckshot comes in with the exact tone of confidence the track warrants; his verses, as usual, are the sickness. (Excellent)

14) Hi-Teknology ft. Jonell

Surprisingly, Hi-Tek actually raps over the title track/final track. The beat is a jumpy, club-type track with an animated bassline and some jumpy synth keys thrown in. Jonell is on the chorus, repeating “Hi-Tek” and humming to the beat; Tek spit’s a pretty nice verse, about himself. (Great)

 

My Rating: 4.5/5

Tek is at his most musically versatile on this LP, obviously enjoying being able to do what he wants without having to answer to the managerially inept (i.e. A&Rs at Rawkus Records who made him give his beats and songs to other label mates). He has a great guest list, bringing together talents one would think were a slight mismatch (Cormega and Common, for example) yet he changes to suit them all.

My Recommendation: Buy it..order it if you have to, listen to it at least!

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