Hi-Tek – Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip   
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written by Michael Diston    
Any relatively clued in hip-hop head will know about Tony Cottrell or DJ Hi-Tek, simply from his single defining moment, 2000's Train of Thought, with partner in crime Talib Kweli, collectively known as Reflection Eternal. The album was for many, the definition of 'backpack' hip-hop music. It was throwback; it was golden era, organic, and a host of other adjectives that are thrown around somewhat hastily to describe the 'movement'. But it was true, and left people clamoring for more. A year later, instead of giving them what they wanted, Hi-Tek ventured solo, releasing Hi-Teknology in 2001. To cut a long story short, Hi-Tek has been consistently consistent since then, most notably in his somewhat extensive work with 50 Cent and his G-Unit compatriots (including the impressive 'Runnin' off Game's The Documentary). Its late 2006, and 'Natti reppin Hi-Tek comes back to deliver the sequel in Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip.

The 'Intro' announces listeners to “bang this shit as loud as possible”, and is good advice as the frantic violins of 'The Chip' begin to resonate through the speakers. Hi-Tek grabs the mic and demonstrates he is definitely not the worst producer to spit some game, displaying some good old-fashioned braggadocio. However just as we saw on the original installment of Hi-Teknology, the true stars of the show are just around the corner. 'Keep It Moving', with the slightly odd pairing of Q-Tip and Kurupt, is, in two words, vintage Hi-Tek. Soft hand claps and that undeniable, if indescribable feeling of 'soul' that hits you in the ear-drums just reeks of Tek production, and while you may think Kurupt is out of place, his verse which touches on ambitions and hustle in the face of adversity, fits right in. It is also the first time the listener hears crooner Dion on the hook, the first of four appearances that he makes on the record.

And yes, for those wondering, Kweli is on the record. Three times in fact. But for those hoping for a sound reminiscent of the Reflection Eternal days, you won't get it. Not to say that this is a totally bad thing. 'Can We Go Back' is more of a natural progression for the two, with a lazy, relaxing piano loop holding down the track that definitely won't disappoint long-time fans of the duo. That and the stunning 'Where It Started (NY)' featuring a super line-up of Raekwon, Jadakiss, Papoose and Kweli, are two of the highlights of the disc, the latter intertwining new and old New York talent over rich but naturally grimey production. It is also another reminder of how Jada shines on guest spots, but never his solo albums.

At times, I lost interest in the record, probably down to the fact that bland efforts from the Strong Arm Steady camp on 'Money Don't Make You Rich' and Czarnok with 'Baby We Can Do It' nearly put me to sleep, luckily only for more fire like the Game's '1-800 Homicide' to wake me up with blazing production by Hi-Tek, truly encapsulating the West Coast feel, and Game sounds as hungry as ever with verses like:

I'ma muthafuckin Aftermath nightmare/
Wake up muthafucka, I traded in my black nike airs/
For a white pair of converse, Dre let me bomb first/
Get out on bail, and still make the concert/
Ask Eminem homey, I'm Shady/
Too much West Coast dick lickin', remember Jay-Z?/
The Chronic and Doggystyle raised me/
My life like rock, it was based in the 80's/
Red bandana tied around my face/
'I hope the shit don't jam' is how gangsta's pray/
And if God forgives the nigga that shot Suge/
Then all dogs should go to heaven in my hood/
I resurrected this gangsta shit/
And this the motherfuckin thanks I get?

Although some of the subject matter he produces makes me think exactly how old the track is – and its under two minutes long – I need more! Hi-Tek gives a pretty good account of himself on this follow-up, and only further cements his solid performance as the album closes out with possibly the two best tracks. Bun-B and Devin the Dude steal the show along with Pretty Ugly on 'So Tired', which accepts life's vices of drink and drugs, rather than decrying them, while 'Music for Life' features the albums second all-star line-up, with Nas, Common, J Dilla and Busta Rhymes all contributing to pay respect to the late producer and instilling hope in us all that there is plenty of good Hip-Hop music to come as long as these guys keep pushing their product.

A solid CD, with solid production and solid rhymes. And I haven't even mentioned the Ghostface and Busta tracks. While the lackluster tracks have a habit of breaking the flow of the CD, it won't worry you too much, since the quality is almost always present. Hi-Tek is a rare breed – one that can make commercially viable tracks via G-Unit, then switch it up and produce an underground heads dream in Train of Thought. Even though the great Dilla has passed, Hi-Tek is one producer that helps to maintain the legacy Yancey left us – quality Hip-Hop music.









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