The international flavor of hip hop comes in many forms; enter DJ Krush of Japan, with his eighth installment of dark jazz, and just all around next shit infused beats. The LP entitled Jaku, which translates as Peace and Calm, is an edgy hip hop, dare I say electronica, infused LP.
From the jump, you get a sense that this LP is straight mood music. You won’t be bumping it on your way to the club, but when its time to relax and spark one, this seems to be where Krush's sound applies. After numerous spins, you get the feeling that Jaku was created to fill a void missing in the game for awhile, the place where past beat makers like the RZA and Havoc use to dwell in cinematic type creations. Unlike the Wu and Mobb beat smiths, Krush can keep your attention with his concoction of beats alone, no lyricists needed, though when he works with MC’s, the results are incredible. While in the past Krush has worked with MC’s the caliber of Mos Def, Black Thought, and El-P, he doesn’t miss a beat this time around recruiting Mr. Lif “Nosferatu” and Aesop Rock “Kill Switch” to spit in their own mind bending Jukie styles with stellar results. Other guests include Shuuzan Morita, Tetsuro Naito, and Tatsuki, which are unknowns to the common hip hop head, including me, none the less; all contribute a level of instrumentation that adds to the already multilayered sound of Krush.
Jaku starts with “Still Island”, setting the tone with a riding flute over Krush’s drum work, creating a broodish feel, very familiar to fans of his past work. Track five “Transition”, brings more heat, with its rapid fire feel, and booming drum pattern. Along with “Transition”, the other true gems are “Beyond Raging Waves”, “The Beginning”, and “Road To Nowhere”. Let’s get specific. “Beyond Raging Waves” incorporates a sitar sounding instrument that dances in between the beat, sure to induce that down tempo head nod reflex. Usually not an artist to use samples, Krush shows his digging skills on “The Beginning”, producing an industrial beat along with another masterful use of the flute. “Road To Nowhere” starts with a stand up bass sound, leading to a beat that sounds like it could have come from Primo in the days of Gangstarrs’ Step In The Arena. Two other stand-out tracks are “Stormy Cloud” and “Slit Of Cloud”, which incorporate incredible use of the piano and sax individually. Beyond the music, I would be incompetent if I did not mention the dope packaging artwork.
Many hip hop cats, especially those that don’t rhyme, view instrumental albums as simply background music, but like some of the very best Jazz albums, instrumental beat lps, when done right, can be classified as definitive hip hop. Don’t forget, DJ’s are the backbone of the hip hop soundscape. DJ Krush has produced a near classic with this latest effort, and along with artists such as RJD2 and Blockhead, Krush has created one of the best instrumental based hip hop albums of the year. Cop it.