21 November 2011

Review: J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science 'Undercover'

[Om Records]

Undercover is the third album of original material from San Francisco DJ/producer J-Boogie, in a career which stretches two decades, countless remixes and a host of DJ and radio accolades. Spanning a diverse selection of styles, Undercover sees Middle Eastern-flavoured psychedelic hip hop (Salaam) and heavy cumbia rhythms (El Ritmo) nestling alongside languidly drifting reggae (Blue Mountain Dub) and '80s lazer funk (Magik). Regardless of genre, summertime grooves abound, with loads of Latin influences, big fat brass sections, guests like Lateef The Truthspeaker, Raashan Ahmad (Crown City Rockers) and The Pimps Of Joytime - and that indefinable sunny Cali sumthin sumthin. I've always preferred J-Boogie's slower cuts, and that remains true, with the two standout tracks here both deeply chilled: the nu-soul bump of Space And Time, featuring vocalists Gena Rene and Rich Armstrong; and the aforementioned Blue Mountain Dub. However, some of the songs suffer from being overproduced, with a slickness which seems to have squeezed much of the soul from the final product. Oh, and there is actually a track here with the chorus "There's a party on the roof / don't look now, I think it's on fire". Undercover maybe, but certainly not subtle, nor groundbreaking, for that matter.

2 and 1/2 stars from 5

See if you think if I'm being too harsh by checking out Undercover here - and cop yourself some free J-Boogie downloads (inlcuding the DJ Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5) remix of Undercover) here. Just steer clear of It's On Fire...

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