I would love to say that I am a huge fan of DJ Format. I think those credentials have been revoked on the grounds that I managed to completely miss the fact that there was a new album, Statement of Intent, released in February 2012. That said, first two albums Music For the Mature B-Boy and If You Can’t Join ‘Em…Beat Em are two of my top albums of all time, so I think I can still claim a little of the fanboydom. When I spotted it during a random browse of the iTunes store, I immediately grabbed the esoteric DJ’s latest release and got stuck right in.
What I love about DJ Format is his ability to take obscure tracks from all manner of musical styles including disco, soul, funk and swing, throw them together with a few beats and scratches of his own and creating a new chimeric monster with every track. But that’s only half of the story as the majority of tracks are coupled with unique vocal stylings, this time featuring appearances from Edan, Mr Lif, Phill Most Chill and Sureshot La Rock plus musical collaborations with The Nostalgia 77 Quintet and The Simonsound.
Statement of Intent has many of the same hallmarks of the previous albums; a fine selection of old tracks sliced and diced and overlaid on to a platter of beats, accompanied perfectly by varied and enjoyable rhymes. Previous cohorts Abdominal and D-Sisive, who for me made the first albums so enjoyable, don’t feature on Statement of Intent, but their replacements as such do a superb job filling their shoes. Having a mixture of different rappers means each song has its own personality. Many rappers can lose the verbal quality with less than stellar delivery, but that is definitely not an issue here. In all cases vocals are sharp and clear which is essential in ensuring you don’t miss out on the superb lyrics particularly when more comedic than the self indulgent aural piss that features on popular radio. Hell, even when the lyrics are indulgent they’re served with tongue placed firmly in cheek.
Particularly notable tracks are the excellent “Dope Pusher” featuring Sureshot La Rock, similar in style and content to old track “Ill Culinary Behaviour”, and “Terror” featuring Mr Lif. That’s not to say the others contributors offering are any lesser, but those tracks stood out for me. I like Sureshot’s voice and also Mr Lif’s more monotone vocal. Different beasts for sure, but that’s part of the albums charm. One of the instrumentals, “Copper Canyons”, is reminiscent of the introversion of fellow DJ, Shadow’s seminal Entroducing which is a nice variation, but if I’m honest there’s not a great deal that’s new here. The thing is, that is absolutely fine with me. It’s familiar, but not samey. It feels both old school and fresh at the same time. It’s immediately accessible, but far from being listen once disposable fluff.
Format has delivered once again. I don’t know if it’s going to be three for three in the favourite records of all time, but I’m damn well enjoying it right now and I won’t be letting the next one slip through the net, that’s for sure. If you’re unfamiliar with DJ Format’s catalogue and wondering why I’m reviewing it when the majority of my reviews are firmly in the rock or metal camps, it’s because it’s just simply damn good music. There’s great musicality in Format’s ability to pick out tiny snippets of old tracks to create whole new ones, plus terrific word play which I absolutely love.
Rap and Hip-Hop are odd genres at times being a careful balance of the written word and the verbal execution, but DJ Format gets the best of his team mates every time. Give it a go even if you’re a metal head. You never know, you might just discover a whole new genre you may never have considered before. If I’ve got one complaint it’s probably that this album will cost me a fortune investigating the discographies of the contributing artists. Damn you Format, damn you!