Turntablism seems to ebb and fade as a pop culture force. While many rock bands routinely use DJ's now on their songs and in live shows, talented hip-hop wax splitters often have trouble moving units due to lack of support. When it comes to the elements, most hip-hop heads seem to crave the sound of an MC's voice almost to the oblivion of the other arts - so much so that even beatboxers who attempt to release albums (Rahzel, Click Tha Supah Latin) end up rapping most of the time on their LP's.
DJ T-Rock is back with his second full length album to say to a slumbering hip-hop populace, "HEY!! WHAT ABOUT THE DJ TOO?" T-Rock needs no MC's, no gimmicks, no outside producers whatsoever. Like Terminator X before him, T-Rock takes music to the edge of panic with his musical opus "Sikinthehed." If the album's title doesn't tell you what kind of trip he's on, the opening track "I Killed Ming (stop calling me flash)" should.
Throughout the album the song titles seem offered as challenges to the listeners - to accept, to believe, or just to groove out. "Dope Scratch Patterns" has no trouble living up to it's name, "U.F.O. in Cruise Control (I've seen it)" is eeriely reminiscent of a good DJ Screw, and the short "I Skratch in My Head" mirrors my own feelings from back when I was a wannabe DJ in college radio. With talent like T-Rock's, I never would have retired. It's no small matter that T-Rock samples the now somewhat obscure rapper Brother J on his epic "I Have Arrived" - it shows both a love for hip-hop history and a desire to introduce sound elements into mixes that are too often overlooked by other jockeys.
If you didn't think that DJ's were a braggadocious lot, then you obviously haven't experienced the humerous "You Know I Catch Wreck" yet, or the aptly named "Simply Marvelous" where a woman's orgasmic moans become just another piece of sound to manipulate. The album refuses to stay grounded on planet earth though, and T-Rock could be accused of watching nothing but episodes of Farscape and The Outer Limits on the Sci-Fi Channel all day (if your cable operator doesn't have it, call and complain). With songs like "Ruler of the Solar System," "Music for Space Travel" and "When Robots Dream" the sound is bound for the farthest reaches of our galaxy.
By the time one reaches the end of this sixty-three minute long album, it's almost impossible to resist the urge to hit play and start the whole experience over again. Somehow mere words don't do the surreal experience of listening to a great turntablist's album justice. In one sense, it's like listening to an album of great DJ Premier instrumentals - songs so well constructed they need no vocal assistance from a rapper. In another sense, it can be compared with watching a great indie film in which each of the elements in a scene are carefully chosen for their maximum impact while avoiding the tendencies of Hollywood cliche. This album though like Q-Bert's "Wave Twisters" would actually make a great film if somebody could write a script capable of encapsulating T-Rock's techniques. While some so called hip-hop "heads" are content to purchase whatever new rapper drops an album no matter HOW monotnous, innovative musicians like DJ T-Rock are often overlooked. If you're ready for a break from your everyday mayonnaise on white bread check out "Sikinthehed" - it's some kicked up jambalaya to wake up your hip-hop tastebuds and get you coming back for seconds and thirds.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Scratch Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: September 18, 2001