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17 March, 2003@12:00 am

Rather than opting for battle filled careers, the Triple Threat DJ’s (Shortkut + Apollo + Vinroc)  diversified, wisely recognizing that strictly scratching doesn’t bring career longevity. As one of hip-hop’s most gifted DJ crews, Apollo, Shortkut and Vinroc earned their stripes on the merciless battle circuit, snagging title after title until they stepped aside from vinyl jousting altogether. After oodles of mixtapes and years of meticulous planning, Many Styles marks the crew’s first legit full length. While folks are generally familiar with their knack for inspiring rear ends to gyrate, their top-shelf, self-constructed beats make this disc an unexpected gem.

On the introductory title track, those within earshot are alerted to Triple Threat’s newfound production prowess. “Produce, create, innovate,” shouts a chopped up KRS-ONE, alluding to the clique’s beatmaking skills.

DJ Vinroc proves to be the trio’s top beatsmith and you can count him in a select group of guitar wielding DJs as he strums the notes he samples. The former ITF champ loops an electric guitar with Oakland’s Zion I on “Hit Em Off” and an acoustic on “On And On”, featuring soon to blow crooner/MC Mystic. Vinroc breaks out his axe again for Talib Kweli and Main Flow’s memorable “Hip-Hop Worth Dying For.” While the laid back soundtrack is drum tight, Kweli’s vicious assault on overly critical, loudmouth backpackers is almost worth the price tag of Many Styles. Among the heaps of guests, Planet Asia shines on “The Realest”, and Black Thought  joins Main Flow for yet another Vinroc creation, “You Got 2″.

Although he’s a slight step behind his partners, Shortkut shows promise behind the boards on “We Got That” with Bay Area rapper Roc Roo. Since he’s been a purveyor of dancehall mixtapes, it’s appropriate that DJ Apollo mans the equipment for the chant filled “Move Down Pressa” with Ridgi Gong.

Naturally, this record’s got several turntablist tracks with boasts as cocky as a young Muhammad Ali awaiting a slugfest. Among the finest is “Two Minute Warning”, a stunning tablist creation that judiciously utilizes a more customary song structure and consequently reels in turntablist junkies and general hip-hop heads alike.

While a DJ spins, many like to chat with (more like annoy) the turntable maestro. So, between tracks, Triple Threat employs hilariously lifelike skits showcasing the chaotic life of a club DJ. In one, a big-mouthed rhymer begs to grab a mic he should be avoiding like the plague. In another, a scratch groupie pleads for crabs and flares, while adding he’d love to get an autograph on the mixer in his knapsack.

Shunning scratch masturbation for behind the boards excellence and mic ripping guest shots, Many Styles ensures listeners won’t pigeonhole them as DJs, but embrace them as accomplished musicians.

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