[28 September 2008]
With King of the Decks, DJ Revolution set out to re-establish the connection between the emcee and the DJ. There is no question that these two core elements of hip-hop have become detached as of late. Although producer albums are literally a dime-a-dozen these days, the same cannot be said for DJs. And when a DJ does release a record, it’s typically a mix of older tracks primed for use at a party. But Revolution, a huge name in the underground West Coast scene, is not the stereotypical master of the wheels of steel. He uses King of the Decks to showcase his own talents and the skills of his friends, which range from DJ QBert to KRS-One to Evidence.
As for our host, Revolution’s insane abilities on the ones and twos are clear from the jump-off. And he makes sure to take a scratching solo on nearly every track. He isn’t just a turntable jockey, though. “Do Your Thing”, featuring Guilty Simpson and Royce Da 5’9”, is an instant standout based on the emcees alone. But Revolution easily matches their killer flows perfectly with a funky beat. Another highlight features Dilated Peoples member Rakaa Iriscience, who shines over the mellow “Casualties of Tour”. Other tracks begging for repeated listens are the video game-sampling “EY”, Boot Camp Clik feature “Start the Revolution”, and tough guy-rap anthem “Damage”. Some weaker tracks attempt to hinder the album, like “Funky Piano” and “The Big Top”, both lame attempts at braggadocio. But in the end, King of the Decks is a solid, albeit lengthy, listen that’s as cohesive as it is varied.