Saturday, July 23, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Elzhi

If you are unfamiliar with the work of Nasir Jones I would suggest having a listen here, here, and here before watching the video below. These are selected track from his legendary 1994 release Illmatic, which was the inspiration and blueprint for Elzhi's latest project, ELmatic. Download a free copy of ELmatic at Elzhi's website here.

A couple days ago I posted a tribute to The Roots, a group of artists who have significantly affected my views on artistry and performance. I think Elzhi's collaboration with funk/soul/hip hop/experimental/jazz band Will Sessions is a wonderfully fitting example of the kinds of things capable with live instrumentation in hip hop. After having a listen to the original Nas tracks, then the Elzhi recreations, I must admit the flair and texture of actual instruments is much more appealing and inspires more interest and movement, at least with me. There's something about the inconsistency and unpredictability of live sound that catches my ear in a way programmed counterparts simply doesn't.

Don't get me wrong; my admiration for hip hop producers like Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and J Dilla. The feats they achieve with programmable instrumentation are nothing less than extraordinary. But every once in a while, I crave live sounds. Thankfully, this album delivers a healthy blend of both. Give it a listen. It's dope.


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