With Statement Of Intent, DJ Format delivers a couple face-melter showcase tracks balanced by long-format instrumental hip hop. That’s an old recipe, but it’s cooked to perfection here. I was expecting a few good tracks and some decent filler: this ain’t that. DJ Format delivered a genuine album here.
This is the third album from DJ Format and he’s put that experience to work, delivering a lean and balanced tracklist that still managed to feel like an expansive trip. The sheer sonic density of ideas and elements defines this album for me — there’s more going on in a single track here than most producers fit into an entire beat tape.
Lyrically, the album is dominated by Sureshot La Rock, who is a vinyl fiend in his own right. His cadence is pure old school, simple but strong, and he’s got a natural feel for the minimalist approach that keeps it from sounding corny. Considering how diverse Statement Of Intent is, La Rock functions as a capable tour guide. He keeps even the most jazzed-out experiments grounded. He also shows up on almost half of the tracks here.
Without question, his collaboration with Edan is the highlight of the album. Edan smash, Edan destroy, Edan rap good: this is not news to anyone in 2012. “Spaceship Earth” is a perfect track and since you’re cool, you’ve already heard it.
The other guest artists all make strong contributions, and there’s an obvious level of respect for DJ Format at work. Nobody is dropping leftover verses here, and Mr. Lif is definitely trying to top Edan with his dark, feverish cut “Terror.” The big surprise of the album was the excellent guest musicians, including his friend Simon James (together, they’re known as The Simonsound) and the flawlessly funky Nostalgia 77 Quintet, who do serious justice to both of their guest appearances here.
My only complaint about this album is actually the purity of DJ Format’s commitment to vinyl collage. There’s not a lot of post-processing and studio trickery going on to make the dozens of samples mesh better, and much like Kid Koala or Coldcut, it can make the funk feel mechanical when the seams are so audible. (Please bear in mind I am also an audio engineer with a lot of LSD in his system any given week: your results may vary.)
Still, this album is an excellent piece of work that will cement DJ Format’s reputation as a hip hop composer, in the grand tradition of DJ Shadow. The ease with which he handles everything from boom bap classical to jazz fusion horizons is impressive, and he sure knows how to pick great guest artists. My favorite part of Statement Of Intent, though, is the progression that DJ Format shows as a producer and arranger. He’s already proven that he can do the superproducer gig as well as anyone, but this album shows him stepping out of the shadow of his influences and defining his own sound.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this to pretty much anyone who would be reading this. This is a headphone masterpiece, this is a perfect party album, and this is a great compilation of international hip hop, too. You want this. You do.
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