Record label: Columbia/Sony (Japan) / Red Ink (US)
Format: 2xLP/CD
Japan release date: 19 June 2001
US release date: 7 August 2001

You can tell that DJ Krush used to be down with the Yakuza. His former occupation keeps coming up in the stealth nature of his beats, organized and deadly like mob hits (which makes it even more ironic that hip-hop practically saved Krush's life). Several albums deep in the cut, he brings back the rawness with this one. The artists featured are near and dear to many, and the collaborations always find the featured artist fitting neatly into Krush's world, yet still being themselves. Black Thought, who has already worked with Krush on Meiso, appears on "Zen Approach," supplying the lyrical elements to the stealth bomb. The rugged instrumentals work for the vocalists also, as shown by "Danger of Love" with Zap Mama and "With Grace" by N'Dea Davenport. A current favorite is "Candle Chant" with Boss the MC (no, not that middle class sista with the gangsta lean), this Japanese cat spittin' over this touching, poignant beat. Can't understand a word, but it's tight. Other highlights include the paranoid nature of "Vision of Art" with Company Flow and the odd rhythmic and harmonic structure of "Endless Railway" (on which Roots drummer ?uestlove makes an appearance). Another one in the can and in the pocket from our favorite hip-hop representative from the East.

{vic feedle}

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