Cut Chemist has always shined no matter what project he has been apart of. As a former deejay/producer of Jurassic 5 (together with Nu-Mark), he lent his trademark signature sound to the crew’s first three projects, while also helping jumpstart latin-funk-hip-hop outfit Ozomatli’s first record. He really began to shine as a solo artist when he teamed up with DJ Shadow for the pair of Brainfreeze and Product Placement live show and mix CD sessions, professing his love for cut and paste deejay mixing, building a legion of fans in the process. While albeit long-overdue, Cut Chemist jumps on Warner Bros. Records for his first solo release, The Audience Is Listening.
If you’ve heard any of Cut Chemist’s mix CD projects, or even any of his spotlight cuts from Jurassic 5 albums, you kind of already know what to expect from his solo LP. Mostly instrumental based, Cut assembles various compositions using bits and pieces from his deep crates of legend, sampling records from just about every genre possible. The album begins with a typical pair of cut-and-paste style tracks, first with “Motivational Speaker”, followed by “My 1 st Big Break”, both of which utilize samples from various instructional records while flying through a series of ever-changing breakbeats. Things get a bit more interesting when Cut inserts vocals over his heavy layers of samples, whether just letting them play in tune and on time (“The Garden”), or manipulating them into their own musical arrangements (“A Peak In Time”). While most everything is sampled, live-action emcees join the party on the 80′s throwback joint “Storm” (feat. Mr. Lif and Edan) and the somewhat blase “What’s The Altitude” (feat. Hymnal).
Still, among these solid selections, there are moments on The Audience Is Listening that just seem to ramble on with little direction, such as “Spat”, a nerdy turntablist telephone conversation sketch that requires only one listen, and the aimless “Spoon”, which is just sort of a random road to nowhere. There’s nothing terribly awful on “The Audience Is Listening” - this is all pretty dope material - but considering the wide range of styles covered by his contemporaries (DJ Shadow, Coldcut, RJD2), Cut’s debut seems a bit dated when measured up to the other stuff in his genre.
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