Artist: DJ CrucialTitle: Test Presses And Dub PlatesRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine
The days of self-pressed twelve-inch white-labels seem long behind us. The problem is, nobody told St. Louis DJ Crucial. The mixtape DJ has also been producing one-offs with an array of artists spanning Hip-Hop geography and demographics. Test Presses and Dub Plates (F5) has everything charming about vinyl Hip-Hop culture, five years after it supposedly went by the wayside.
DJ Crucial seems to be living in the days of old. He transcends Hip-Hops self-imposed labels and barriers. For instance, Life I Chose with MC Eiht, has a CMW reminiscent delivery over a gliding string and vocal chop, cutting through Biz Markies classic beat, Check It Out. Then, Ghost Whirl finds MF DOOM and J-Toth rhyming ghoulish bars over a simple but classic Animals loop. Chicagos JUICE and Serengeti combine for a grimy local tribute on Corination, which Crucial fills with turntable trickery. Although these twelve-inches make for a random compilation, regardless of the artist, all seem to have a lot of purpose in lyrical appeal which has always sold singles.
Musically, DJ Crucial is unafraid to use simpler loops and familiar samples, which reveal his 45 King and Diamond D influences. Rayna Shines Without a Doubt and MF Grimms Gingerbread Man both incorporate soul guitar samples lovely. Serengetis Best Friend Deux is identical to Paris and DJ Shadows work on The Days of Old, but a nice allusion nonetheless. This sense of freedom has been the reason white-labels are what they are – and each MC carves his or her identity into every one of Crucials compositions.
Bolstered by veteran presences like MC Eiht, MF Grimm and J-Treds, Test Presses and Dub Plates pulls listeners in. However, its work with talented unknowns like Rayna Shine and fallen MC Katt Davis, are the mortar of the mix. F5 Records has laid a foundation of daringly releasing hardly-profitable short runs of these singles. This compilation, which is nicely blended together, puts the individual moments on a higher platform. This is merely an audio photo-album from a journey down the road less taken.