DJ Krush Jaku

[Red Ink/Sony; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Japanese instrumental hiphop
Others: DJ Shadow, Cam, DJ Vadim

Allowing a distinct sense of culture to seep into one's work always makes for some interesting compositions in music. An artist can nod back to their upbringing, remind themselves of what once was grand and what remains timeless. Culture within your work is indicative of a noble awareness and general appreciation for what has been laid down before you. DJ Krush, one of Japan's most prominent and pioneering hip-hop figures employs this method on his latest project, Jaku. This isn't to say Krush's own Japanese culture hasn't been present in the past, but now we have a clear picture of the profound effect it can have.

The 15 songs on Jaku maintain a cinematic quality throughout. This is aided by the live shakuhachi and koto (wooden flute and strings, respectively). These foreign instruments also add a unity that is often times hard to come by in instrumental hip-hop albums. We are presented with a recurring whimsical sound that is both relaxing and uplifting.

There is no questioning DJ Krush's resume and turntable/production abilities -- that would be foolish. As he has done throughout his whole career, Krush brings in some high-profile guests to contribute. Strong showings from Def Jukies Aesop Rock and Mr. Lif come as expected, and the Japanese musicians get Krush's vision for this album up and running. At no point does the album feel as though it's a showcase for other artists, nor does it feel awkward in its particular guest inclusions. Everything fits the captivating mold that Krush skillfully crafted. Jaku is the latest damn fine album in a long line of damn fine albums from DJ Krush.

1. Still Island
2. Road To Nowhere
3. Nosferatu
4. The Beginning
5. Transition
6. Stormy Cloud
7. Univearth
8. Decks-athron
9. Kill Switch
10. Pretense
11. Slit of Cloud
12. Passage
13. Beyond Raging Waves
14. Distant Voices
15. Song 2