Album Reviews: Blend Crafters by DJ Nu-MarkFor years, DJ Nu-Mark has stood in the shadow of his flashier fellow Jurassic 5 turntablist Cut Chemist, but in 2004 that's going to change. He's already released a superb mix album, Hands On, and now he notches the bar even higher with this, his "solo" debut ("solo" in quotes because two of the tracks here were produced by new partner-in-crime Pomo).
Blend Crafters starts off fun and fierce, with "Melody" offering up some catchy vocal loops and the too-brief "Beat the Odds" funking things up with sampled James Brown grunts. The haunting Delta vibe of "Bad Luck Blues" is my personal favorite, but J5 fans will probably be even more pleased with "Pow" and "The Sh*t," vintage Nu-Mark joints with smoldering grooves and atmospheric, jazzy production. Only the album's final three tracks disappoint, as Nu-Mark and Pomo's fascination with flute and sax samples gets the best of them, especially on an embarrassingly Muzak-y cover of John Lennon's "Imagine."
With just 11 tracks clocking in at a total of 30 minutes, Blend Crafters is short and sweet, a far cry from the bloated, special-guest-strewn epics that are all the rage in today's hip-hop. This is a good thing in my book, but that and the lack of any MCs may make this album too unassuming for hip-hop fans used to more in-your-face material. Hopefully it will find an appreciative audience among the J5 faithful and fans of hip-hop's more ambient, experimental underground. - Andy Hermann
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