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DJ DESIGN – Jetlag – 2008 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★☆

Like underground hip-hop but take guilty pleasure in the beats from producers like The Neptunes? Wish that those beats were teamed with credible MCs? Jetlag is that rare thing – an underground hip-hop LP that doesn’t seek to emulate a bygone era and for the few faults it does have – this is a good thing. Instead Design drops modern sounding beats that sound like they were created to move a dancefloor unlike – say – the clankiness of stuff from the Def Jux stable. As such it recalls Q Tip’s 1999 LP Amplified (wicked beats – even if the lyrics were a bit wack) and Foreign Legion’s 2003 LP Playtight – coincidentally a band whose former DJ was someone called…DJ Design. Jetlag is the product of four or so years work and contains the variety that you might expect from being made over such a length of time and a whole host of underground MCs.

Things kick off with Phat Cat and Grip Grand spitting battle rhymes over the sparse beats and Ofra Haza sounding chant of Wild Ones before Oh No and Roc C take over for the Play. What sounds like a loop jacked from a sixties psychedelic track prepares the ground for super-heavy cut and paste beats, and a portrait of a femme fatale gangster, “She a thoroughbred raised by the hustlers/ never been a customer, always on the come up”. This brace of tracks constitute a dope opening to an LP though the smooth blandness of the next two tracks – the B Lloyd featuring All A Dream and the Dudley Perkins/ Oh No showcase Better Days sees the pace slacken somewhat. Not that you need worry overly as next up is the album highlight – an utter bomb-track with Guilty Simpson coming correct over some phat sci fi boom bap shit. Synths shimmer in the background, piano stabs punctuate the foreground, the beat is kick drum heavy and Simpson’s battle flows set to shut down all rivals – so it’ll come as no surprise that it’s titled Ferocious. Unfortunately it’s one of those tracks that no matter how good what follows is – you just want to listen to it again. Unfortunate because a lot of what follows is pretty damn good. Grip Grand rocks up again on the fuzzed out guitar riff heavy B-side Too and B Lloyd’s second track Major is cousin to DJ Shadow’s Q Tip/ Lateef collab. Enuff. Get On The Floor will have people stepping up to do just that and is a synth-rich wig-out that recalls the Knight Rider theme. Ace Hustle and Foreign Legion also turn up on quality tracks towards the end of the LP. Overall Jetlag contains numerous good tracks and at least one all-time classic (Ferocious) but if I have any complaint at all it’s that the LP could be more consistent in terms of pace and quality and could have been pruned of one or two pieces of filler. Clearly a man with a sense of humour, Design closes the LP with the horrible tech-house of Gates Of Steel. I probably should keep an open mind about this track or something but fuck that.
Out now on Look Records.

Download DJ Design – Jetlag (get your skates on it’s limited free offer!)

DJ Design – Myspace


DJ DESIGN – Jetlag LP – Free download

How cool is this? Former Foreign Legion member DJ Design’s new LP Jetlag is available for free download for a limited period only and it’s fresher than a mint-scented breeze. You need to be on that shit!

Download – DJ Design – Jetlag LP

“DJ Design was an early member of the Stones Throw roster, releasing the compelling instrumental album Gather Round as well as the “Sparkdala” single with Quasimoto. He produced the first two Foreign Legion albums Kidnapper Van and Playtight and toured the world as the dj for the group. Design also remixed a track from the Beastie Boys album Hello Nasty called “Negotiation Limerick File.” In 2003 DJ Design formed his own record label, Look Records, which has released full lengths from Foreign Legion, A.G. (DITC), Phat Kat (of J Dilla fame ), G&D (Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins) and Grip Grand.Jetlag has been a work in progress since 2004, with various artists flying back and forth to San Francisco to DJ Design’s recording studio. The album features guest appearances by Stones Throw recording artists Guilty Simpson, Oh No & Roc C and former Stones Throw artist Dudley Perkins, football star Brandon Lloyd and Detroit’s Phat Kat of J Dilla fame. Between tour dates and the daytime gig as president of Look Records, DJ Design produced and mixed down the album to what it is today. Jetlag is a snapshot of Designs past as well as a look into the future of this eclectic producer.”

Check back for a review soon.

DJ Design – Jetlag – Tracklist:
01. Wild Ones featuring Grip Grand & Phat Kat
02. Play featuring Oh No & Roc C
03. All A Dream featuring B Lloyd
04. Better Days featuring Oh No & Dudley Perkins
05. Ferocious featuring Guilty Simpson
06. Ohh! featuring Party Arty
07. B-Side Too featuring Grip Grand
08. Major featuring B Lloyd
09. Eh, Yo
10. Wave of the Future featuring Grip Grand
11. Get On the Floor featuring Party Arty
12. Rugged One 1996
13. Deadly Deeds featuring Ace Hustle
14. Battle Physically 1998 featuring Foreign Legion
15. Here We Go World
16. Gates Of Steel

Download DJ Design – Jetlag

DJ Design – Myspace