Most 19 year olds are still trying to find themselves and figure out what they want to do with their life, but not DJ Piklz. The up and coming DJ/producer is already the CEO and executive producer of his own label, 98 Proof Recordings. With a roster full of emcees, and a variety of albums under his belt, DJ Piklz is living proof that hard work and determination will lead to success, no matter your age. His debut album, Off The Meatrack Vol. 1, is a compilation album featuring the 98 Proof Recordings roster, as well as some underground heavyweights such as Q-Unique, Oktober, and Substantial. However, regardless of the names, the album succeeds due to Piklz' talent behind the boards.
Unlike most producers, DJ Piklz does not have a distinct sound. His variety, fidelity, and rich textures provide an encompassing sound that takes you on a journey of its own. Piklz is able to combine live instruments, chopped up samples, and hard-hitting drums into one complete package. This is seen throughout Off The Meatrack Vol. 1, as the array of beats help bring the best out of each emcee.
Piklz shows his range as a producer with his beautiful Spanish guitar loop on the introspective "The Stranger" by Nablidon. Not to be overlooked however, is Nablidon's effort, which is one of the best performances on the album. Nablidon provides a touching and intriguing look inside his struggles, while the song's Spanish crooning on the hook adds another level of sincerity. Other attempts from Piklz roster that succeed include the two group collaborations "Heres Just One Reason" featuring Hi-Caliber, GLO, and Rik Dex, and "Level-Headed" featuring KWA Rally, Hi-Caliber, and GLO. Each track finds each emcee spitting raw lyrics over Piklz aggressive production.
Still, the album's best tracks come from the more seasoned underground vets. The Bronx's very own Oktober Zero drops by for a vintage b-boy cut "In The Building". Oktober's witty wordplay and confident swagger never sounded better over Piklz arrangement of lush keys and handclaps. Piklz finest production effort on the album is perhaps his work on "Laugh Now, Cry Later", which features Faezone and Des Devious of the Army of The Pharaohs/Q-Demented. Piklz dark and moody beat even includes an edgy guitar riff that caps off the track perfectly. Conceptually, Q-Unique and GLO hook up for the album's best track with "Is Anybody Outthere?" Over Piklz gloomy keys and quirky vocal sample, each emcee delivers their own standout story.
The only aspect that keeps Off The Meatrack Vol. 1 from being even better is inconsistent emcee performances. Piklz orchestral string arrangement on "Watch Yo Mouf" unfortunately goes to waste due to Little Italy's nonsensical rhymes and sloppy flow. Little Italy runs into the track full speed, and in turn, awkwardly rushes their flow. Similarly, GLO and Nablidon fall into the same trap on "Believe In Something", as each fails to impress with their double timed flows. Instead of getting under the beat and really capturing the essence of the track, GLO and Nablidon try to fit as many words humanly possible into each bar. Utilizing a double timed flow is all but commonplace nowadays, but most emcees fail to use it correctly. It's not about rapping as fast as you can, but being able to flow at such a speed without your message and connection with the listener getting lost. The only other notable misstep on Off The Meatrack is the corny "The Monstersquad" featuring GLO and Nablidon. Piklz irritating synth keys and the track's bland concept makes for filler material.
Thankfully, such mistakes do not take away from the overall success of Off The Meatrack Vol. 1. DJ Piklz is slowly molding into a great producer, as his work on the album is brilliant throughout. While some of the emcee performances may not rival Piklz work, the standout moments on the album certainly make up for it. DJ Piklz may only be 19 years old, but he is years ahead of the learning curve, making Off The Meatrack Vol. 1 an impressive debut album.