Back in August a turntablist named DJ I-Dee got my attention by releasing a single with Jean Grae and Wrekonize called "The Right." The idea of using video game samples in hip-hop songs is nothing new, but I-Dee still managed to flip the script by taking the victory fanfare from Final Fantasy VII (the little ditty that plays when you defeat an enemy) and jacking the prolonged instrumental that comes AFTER IT to make one hell of a cool song. Unfortunately the legal beagles at Square-Enix, the makers of the Final Fantasy series, didn't think the idea was as cool as I-Dee did. Our hero quickly found his hopes of releasing "The Right" as the first single from his national debut album vanquished, despite the fact a video had already been shot for it. There's a lesson to learn here kids - never assume that your track is going to make an album no matter how obscure the loop you jacked is. Maybe I-Dee should have done a remix of "The Right" with the FF7 death requiem all the same, just to mock the fact Square-Enix threw away perfectly good money not clearing his sample.
There's more to I-Dee than just video game samples though. Born Isaac DeLima, this young disc jockey grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and began making tracks when he was just 10 years old. He entered his first turntablist battles in 2002 and has been defeating better known foes in throwdowns ever since. I-Dee completed a grand slam two years ago at only 19 by winning the DMC USA, Scribble Jam and Gong World Supremacy titles in the span of just six months. It's going to be a long time before any DJ comes along and so thoroughly dominates the competition in such a short span of time, and for I-Dee it was the kind of performance he'd never be able to top, so it was only natural that he move into the arena pioneered by the likes of DJ Qbert and the X-Ecutioners - a full-length album showcasing beats AND scratching techniques all at once.
"Solitude" is the youngster's first full length album and it's no laughing matter, even though the visage of the Joker seems to be leering at us underneath his leather jacket. It's only ten tracks long, and two should be thrown out given one is only a 47 second long intro and the other is humorously titled "Eating Up Time" (even though he denies being funny) but for those other eight he's not wasting any time or effort. "The Scratch" lives up to the name by showcasing some hardcore cutting skills, interspersed with samples talking about the history of turntable manipulation. Not every song is DJ I-Dee showing off his formidable skills alone though. An all-star cadre of rappers join I-Dee on "Explosion" - Royce Da 5'9", Tamu and C-Rayz Walz all take the time to shine on it. As dope as it is the Ill Insanity shines even more on "Brutally Raw," a group consisting of Rob Swift, Total Eclipse and Precision showcasing their skills on the wheels of steel together.
DJ I-Dee's most curious track may be "1991," a song which I first assumed had to be a tribute to a year he wasn't even old enough to remember. Instead the song features I-Dee creating a beat with some very subtle juggling of drum tracks, laced together with a very ethereal instrumental that suggests no year in particular - although if you HAD to pick one year could in fact be an instrumental for Deltron 3030. I-Dee is a musical eclectic who seems to view the layering of multiple levels of organic sounds as being just as important as showing off his formidable competition-level scratching, which makes "Solitude" a worthwhile album far beyond just the small disc jock niche similar albums get unfairly lumped into. Listening to the closer "Anxiety Free" I can easily imagine I-Dee crafting the soundtrack for a show on [adult swim] or producing beats for an album by Canibus - he'd be equally at home in either realm. As he said himself on "The Right," you can't control the soundwaves without the right I-Dee.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Table Vibes: 8.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: September 9, 2008