The Cleaning

Artist: Kon & AmirTitle: The CleaningRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sharpeye Washington<font face="verdana" size="2"

Hip-hop started with the DJ. So if that course of events holds true, it’s safe to say that diggin’ for beats has been a major part of authentic hip-hop culture from its inception. Kon & Amir are world-renowned beat diggers, getting their fingers gritty for years while mining for vinyl jewels. Not just collecting records for the sake of possessing them, the duo showcases their superb selection as DJ’s on The Cleaning, the latest offering from the Uncle Junior’s Fish Fry series from those folks at Uncle Junior/7 Heads records.

First and foremost, this is a record for beat heads. If are looking for a hot verse or some fine tuned turntable wizardry (as far as cuts and scratches) you will not find it here. Instead what your eardrums will prickle to hear is fresh soul, R&B, jazz and whatever other genres you can think of grooves for listening pleasure.

On The Cleaning a healthy knowledge of James Brown breaks or Parliament funk samples just won’t cut it. De La Soul aficionados will be quickly able to place the charming synths of Mighty Riders’ “Evil Vibrations” since the Native Tonguers lifted them for their hit “Saturdays.” If there is a overall theme on this album, it’s a blending of…TK. This concept is exemplified on “Windy C” a minimal but silky smooth groove that if you were close your eyes while listening, you would picture hip cats in afros and bell bottoms slappin’ skin. Other songs of note, though they all are winners, include a luscious mix of soaring synth strings and mood base on “Sweet Power” by James Mason and the uplifting vocals and dreamy instrumentation “California” by the much-sampled Leon Ware.

The obscure, as far as casual music listeners, artists like The Chosen Few, Ron Holden, Leo Sunshipp, will have pseudo beat diggers and casual listeners alike quickly trying to play catch up. The Cleaning is a well put together mix of consistently head nod inducing selections from various musical realms that come together under one very hip-hop roof. Hip-hop is about beats, rhymes and all that good stuff in between, but it’s a nice departure to just worry about the beats for about an hour and change.