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CD Review: Z-Trip’s Shifting Gears

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Z-Trip’s debut album plays like a love letter to hip hop, complete with all the old school party jams and experimental mash-ups you’ve come to expect from any DJ worth the hype associated with them. Shifting Gears (release date April 19th) tends to stay on the playful side of the tracks, consistently reminding the listener that hip hop is supposed to be fun. On the occasions it strays from that course, though, things can get a little bumpy.

Shifting Gears starts with regression in mind, circumventing old school beats with intricate cuts. The MCs on hand (Soup from Jurassic 5, Whipper Whip, Lyrics Born, Supernatural, and Chuck D) provide the rhymes necessary to fuel this party.

“All About The Music” and “The Get Down” perfectly replicate the homestead bash feeling of late 80’s hip hop when everything was danceable and egos were kept small. “Breakfast Club,” a track reminiscent of Handsome Boy Modeling School, begs us to step back into our footy pajamas and remember Saturday morning cartoons fondly.

“About Face” moves the album in a different direction, leaving the house parties behind for instrumental work suggestive of less chaotic DJ Shadow. “Walking Dead” (featuring Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington) walks the line between hard rock and electronica, but serves a small detractor for the significant hip hop roots of Shifting Gears.

Z-Trip puts it all on display here and at times it seems too much. He’s Dan The Automator, Kid Koala, and DJ Shadow all at the same time. It’s a great mix in theory, but in practice can feel moody, especially when the album’s theme of good natured fun is blindsided by “Bury Me Standing,” a track that sounds more like Kid Rock than Kid ‘N Play.

Regardless of the album’s fickle nature, Shifting Gears contains more than a few notable tracks that even the most passive hip hop fans would keep on heavy rotation for some time.

Check out some music samples with the Z-Trip player.

Cross-Posted at MRBenning’s World

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About M. R. Benning

  • Al

    I didn’t realize Z-Trip had a new album. I’ve been waiting for something new since his Uneasy Listening boots.

  • http://mike.shelikesit.net MRBenning

    It’s a pretty rockin’ release, even if it is a bit uneven. If you like his older stuff, I’m sure you’ll find something to like here, Al.

  • http://canheadrecords.blogspot.com/ L. Cue

    nice one Mike..Yeah Z-Trip is cool but he will loose you sometimes. That’s the problem with really knowing your shit as a dj, sometimes you move the crowd, sometimes you don’t.
    Cool post…did they hook you up with any tickets to any shows? Holla at them!!

  • Al

    Yeah, I’ll definitely have to pick this up. I’ve only caught him live once, and he doesn’t make his way to my part of Canadda very often.