Disc Space 11/27/2002
Thursday, November 28, 2002
It''s astonishing to realize the amount of music that has been influenced by hip-hop today. Hip-hop is no longer just one style, but many. As a result the margins that usually separate what is and is not hip-hop have been blurred in the process. While most rap music has dissolved into more of an image than an art form, DJ Vadim''s newest release, U.S.S.R. The Art Of Listening, is a collage of styles and flavors commemorating the versatility of the sometimes mundane world of hip-hop.
On a sampler DJ Vadim brought out 1992, he penned "Abstract Hallucinating Gases" and "Headz Ain''t Ready," two tracks that would then define the fresh aura of experimentalism that Vadim is well known for. Producer, DJ, promoter, founder of Jazz Fudge Records, record collector, radio presenter; twelve years running, Vadim Peare has become a leader in hip-hop culture. Mashing together crisp breaks, broken beats, and various samples, DJ Vadim pays particular attention to every intricate detail of swirling undercurrents. He combines an engaging plethora of sounds in his music, from homegrown poetry, rewinds, scratches, odds and ends of sounds to cheeky b-lines, and verbal weaponry.
U.S.S.R. The Art Of Listening hosts a wealth of talent from all over the world. An active collaborator, DJ Vadim is known to work with artists that recoil from the attitudes and words of mainstream rap and instead poetically navigate their skills in more a constructive manner. Hand picked by Vadim, the album features hard hitting hip-hop flows and talents of Motion Man, Vakill, Yarah Bravo, Gift Of Gab, Phi Life Cyber, Kela & Ulzula Dudziak, DJ Plus One, Ade Soma & G Ruff (of the Super Furry Animals), Demolition Man, Mucho Mu, TTC, Revd Clevie Brown and Slug.
While American music continues to be full of contradictions and inconsistencies, DJ Vadim attacks their generalizations with a vengeance. Representing lyricists with and incentive to keep things real. A quote from Bernard Shaw best renders Russian producer DJ Vadims liberating journey into the far side of hip-hop: "Some men see things as they are and ask why others dream of things that never were and ask why not."
An artist''s first record is one he has been waiting to make his entire life, while the second one is written quickly and frequently uses non-road tested material.
Luckily, in the case of reissues, the latter issue has been determined already. This singer-songwriter''s second disc (his debut featured his standard "Ain''t No Sunshine") is and was his artistic highpoint. Withers'' style--sweet, acoustic guitar and piano driven folk-funk--never again flowered like it does here. With his beyond-basic approach to songwriting, simple, repetitive riffing on guitar bolstered by acoustic or electronic keys of various stripes and his plaintive, blues-based singing style, Withers was at his prime a serious contender for the title held by the incomparable Stevie Wonder.
Because his style was so straightforward and his vocalizing and melodics deliberately unfettered, he was never really in fellow funkster Stevie Wonder''s class. But on this record''s pinnacles, like the swampy clavinet-driven "Use Me," the third-grader''s two finger piano exercise turned timeless anthem "Lean On Me," and the astounding album cuts "Lonely Town, Lonely Street" and "Kissing My Love," Withers'' pastoral takes on the funk machine are positively country-churchy. This was a cat at the peak of his game.
He never again soared so high. With his final appearence on the charts as vocalist on a Grover Washington hit "Just the Two of Us," this one-time assembly-line man then disappeared into the history books. This is his great moment--get it.