Let me start off with a bit of honesty. I am not an expert in hip-hop. My personal taste veers more towards DJ Shadow rather than Public Enemy. When I was handed Z-Trip’s album Shifting Gears, I didn’t think my initial listen would spawn enough excitement for a review. I was dead wrong. This is a brilliant record. The fifteen-track disc screams summertime with its nostalgic early’80s party jams. The first real track is “Listen To The DJ”, showcasing Z-Trip’s scratching skills on the turntables while Soup of Jurassic 5 rhymes over classic big beats. “All About The Music” sounds like a modern day version of a track from the Beastie Boys’ classic album Paul’s Boutique, including plenty of cowbell. It also features a standout rap from Whipper Whip, who was an original member of the Fantastic 5. “About Face’ gives Z-Trip a moment to shine, creating one hell of a track out of military commands and the chopped up sample of a snare drum. Genius. You can’t help but grin during “Breakfast Club”, with Murs and Supernatural throwing down rhymes about childhood cartoons and cereal. The album isn’t just fun and games, especially with the rock-fueled anti-war track “Shock And Awe”. Chuck D is featured on this one, and man is he pissed off. Even though Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington (ick) makes an appearance on the record, this is still the perfect record to blare on your jambox during a hot summer day. It has been a while since a DJ has released an album this fresh and innovative. Shifting Gears proves that Z-Trip is much more than just a master of mash-ups.
POSTED April 20, 2005 12:00AM IN THE TRIPWIRE