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DJ Kentaro - Enter

DJ Kentaro, Next

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

HAVING announced himself to a worldwide audience with his Solid Steel mix On The Wheels of Solid Steel, Japan’s hip-hop heavyweight DJ Kentaro – a former winner of the DMC World Championship title in 2002 – returns with his full production debut, Enter.

The ensuing record offers 40 minutes of structured beats, musical smarts and an occasional smattering of trademark turntable magic featuring vocal support from the likes of The Pharcyde, Spank Rock, New Flesh and Fat Jon.

In many ways Enter stands as a neat little companion piece to DJ Shadow’s recent release The Outsider, which also did away with turntabling in favour of slickly produced hip-hop anthems.

But it doesn’t offer as many outstanding moments. It’s a good hip-hop record that trades more on old skool aesthetics than contemporary gangsta values (always a recommendation), as well as dropping in elements of hard drum ‘n’ bass and the occasional bit of soul.

The album gets off to a solid start with Enter The Newground, a scintillating blend of hip hop and drum ‘n’ bass that drops some effective vocal samples, before really kicking into gear with Pharcyde’s entry, Keep On – an explosive blend of beats, piano loops and catchy choruses that are rooted firmly with keeping people dancing.

Thereafter, it’s a little more hit and miss, even though the pace barely lets up for a second. Dance enthusiasts will be dripping in the sweat this record will draw from you!

Free, featuring Spank Rock, is a funky barnstomer and arguably one of the album’s biggest highlights (Spank Rock’s urgent vocal style perfectly blending with Kentaro’s old-skool beats and breaks), while there’s a nice change of pace on the soulful Tasogare Highway High.

But when the album opts to start putting drum ‘n’ bass beats ahead of hip-hop, as with Rainy Day in particular, or to a lesser degree, One Hand Blizzard, the effect isn’t quite as invigorating.

Another outstanding effort, however, is Space Jungle, a talent heavy workout that drops finger-clicking beats and a clever sample from Missy Elliott’s Pass That Dutch with vocal turns from Spank Rock, Ronnie Darko, Chris Rockswell and Armani XXXChange.

Harvest Dance is another mighty blend of flutes and beats which is breathless in its energy, while Fat Jon lends a distinctly smooth flow to the altogether mellower cosmic hip hop of Let It Go. And there’s even a firm reminder of Kentaro’s scratching prowess on final track, Grateful To You, which is as much a parting thank you shot from the DJ as it is a reminder of what helped him shoot to prominence in the first place.

Our advice is therefore to go with Enter, which looks set to become one of the better hip hop releases of the year from one of the world’s best known DJs.

Download picks: Keep On, Free, Space Jungle, Harvest Dance, Let It Go

Track listing:

  1. Enter The Newground
  2. Keep On – Feat. Pharcyde
  3. Free – Feat. Spank Rock
  4. Tasogare Highway High (Bass Wanna Be A Singer)
  5. Rainy Day – Feat. New Flesh
  6. Uminnaka
  7. Handmade Gift – Feat. Little Tempo
  8. Space Jungle – Feat. MC Spank Rock, Ronnie Darko, Chris Rockswell and Armani Xxxchange
  9. Nursery Room
  10. Harvest Dance – Feat. Hifana
  11. Trust
  12. One Hand Blizzard
  13. Brightin’ Star Enter
  14. Let It Go – Feat. Fat Jon
  15. Hatsuyume – Feat. Hunger
  16. Grateful To You