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22 March, 2005@12:00 am

     Defari and DJ Babu have paid a great deal of dues to the LA underground scene and hip-hop as a whole. So why shouldn’t the two link up for an album? Because of their close contact with each other through the underground scene and the Likwit Crew/Beat Junkies inner circle, a collaborative album is only natural. Defari has been around the block a few times, while DJ Babu has carved up his fair share of records with the occasional mind blowing production (Dilated Peoples’ “Pay Attention”). In 2005, the two hook up to form the Likwit Junkies, delivering their debut album, The LJ’s.

     The chemistry between Defari and Babu is undeniable from the jump. It seems as if this album was in the making for some time, with Babu’s edgy yet soulful production fits Defari’s carefree delivery to a tee. Even though Babu has been known for his superb turntable skills, his occasional beatmaking ability is highly underrated. The LJ’s provide him the opportunity to let his production work shine, and there are no complaints from this critic whatsoever. The rambunctious horns on “Keep Doin It” epitomize how ill the chemistry between the emcee and the producer/turntabilist can turn out to be. Joints like the reggae tinged “6 In the Morning”, and superb Cali bounce roller rink anthem “Salute”, showcase how well Defari manages to vibe to Babu’s moving production.  Defari even progresses his subject matter since his last release, showing improvement since the ill-fated Odds and Evens. From the hood narrative “Ghetto” to speaking about gripping the handlebars of life and creating your own path on “Change”, it is evident that Defari is an above average emcee.

    There are a few hiccups trapped within the lengthy 18 track album. When Defari switches from B-boy stance to loverboy, his power behind the mic diminishes. Joints like the super corny “Dreamgirl” and extra syrupy clichid ode to weed on “The Good Green” may possess a finger or two to pounce the skip button, just to get back to the soulful vibe of “Dark Ends” featuring Dilated’s Rakaa. Even the lame skit “D.G. skit” proves to be boring filler as Defari laments to the ladies his dick game.

     But those hiccups aside can’t force the Likwit Junkies train to derail. Closing out the album with the introspective “The Interview” where some of Babu’s finest production backs a mock interview of Defari proves to be the highlight for fans new and old. As he reflects his career throughout the mock interview, many will respect Defari to a higher extent as you get more than a glimpse into the soul of the Likwit Junky. After the 18 tracks though you have to wonder, will there be another Likwit Junkies album or is this just a one time show?

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