E.P. REVIEW: Specifics by DJ Shorte & LP

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DJ Shorte & LP are a Miami based hip hop duo who made an album in 1997, Environmentalities that has become something of a cult classic. It featured the single Color Blind and a collaboration with multiplatinum artist Aaron Hall. DJ Shorte originally hails from the Bronx, while LP is from Hyde Park, Chicago. They met in South Florida through DJ Shorte’s brother who was LP’s first partner in music.

This EP consists of five hip hop tracks and a spoken word intro from Navigator, who is one of several rappers making a guest appearance. The EP also features Jocamoe Dundee, JLB, Incan Lama and Kevens. Rather unusually, every track from the EP is going to be put out as a single, with the full EP released in the New Year.

New Thought Status

This track starts with a sampled saxophone riff and some record scratching before a swinging hip hop beat kicks in allied with a warm, deep bassline. Rapper LP comes in on the beat, his delivery fast, confident and flowing. But perhaps what is most striking is the lyrical content. Where so much hip hop is about male bragadaggio, violence and misogynistic attitudes towards women, these lyrics have a much more spiritual, utopian vibe .

The catchy chorus hook runs “Everything you want you can achieve with ease, New Thought Status….no nationalities, don’t neglect what you need indeed, you see we proceed soul to the masses of the city…’. The sax break in the background adds to the hook. The second verse doesn’t let up the pace, with a real call-to-arms to society as a whole: “It’s time to realize that all the info we receive is 99.9 per cent lies….”.

Motivational Tactics

This track also has a very funky hip hop beat, and is quite lengthy at five and a half minutes. Along with LP, it also features the Peruvian rapper Incan Lama. During the first minute, we hear the title hook sung in a reggae style before the rapping begins. Once again, the lyrics are thought provoking and refreshingly different in their outlook: ‘At peace with yourself is the true claim to fame…’.

The track is about railing against all the things in life that thwart us from truly being ourselves. Incan Lama takes over for the second verse, with some well aimed digs at the powers that be: ‘Knock knock, let’s see who could it be, is it Big Brother watching over me?‘ . There’s even a short verse in Peruvian towards the end, which adds a little exotic flavour. Great track.

Cellular Memory

This track is perhaps the catchiest and most musically simple on the EP, yet with the most sophisticated and highbrow lyrics. Musically, it is built around a funky five note bass line, a syncopated beat, electronic swirls and the addictive vocal refrain ‘We can all do it together if we try, collectively with the intellect we must strive…’.

In between choruses, the ideas conveyed in this track are particularly intelligent and metaphysical. Guest rapper Jocamoe Dundee informs the listener :‘Every single event since the beginning of time is documented in the complex structure of the mind….This is reality, I’m talking fact not fantasy, atoms are solar systems, molecules are galaxies, metaphysical man programmed with the plan before life began….’. An excellent track, and so refreshing to hear hip hop with a smart, positive message.
Matters At Hand

This track is built around a sample from What’s Happening, Brother by Marvin Gaye from his classic What’s Going On album and the bass line is also derived from James Jamerson’s bass playing on that song. Like Marvin, DJ Shorte and LP have a spiritual message to convey: ‘Division? Never.. Multiply the endeavour… intellectual thought makes the ignorance sever’.

Not since De La Soul has hip hop produced a group that can make advanced spirituality sound like everyday common sense, but DJ Shorte and LP are taking up the baton and they effortlessly juggle delivering catchy vocal and melodic hooks with esoteric, thought provoking words.

Positivity

This track is a mellow style of hip hop, with a slinky beat that gets the toe tapping. It’s the shortest on the EP with most tracks clocking in at over five minutes, and has a sung chorus in a reggae style that you’ll find yourself humming after just one listen. It features Kevens as well as JLB and the central message is the power and importance of positive thinking: ‘If you ain’t feelin’ good, you’ve got nothing to prove…‘. Yet another high quality track and the one best suited to radio, in terms of length.

 
Overall, this is a fantastic hip hop EP that manages to combine first class beats, samples and production from DJ Shorte with super intelligent and socially aware lyrics from LP and his fellow emcees. Owing to the glamorization of violence and material possessions in hip hop today, it more than ever needs positive, inspirational music like this that encourages self-improvement rather than self-indulgence. A classic EP.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

Verdict: 9 out of 10

 

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