Mixing hip-hop with other genres of music can be a tricky task. Enter J-Boogie’s Dubtronic Science, whose "Soul Vibrations" is a solid, excellent 70 minutes that proves it can be done, as he effortlessly blends bright, bouncy hip-hop with whatever, whenever.
Mixing hip-hop with other genres of music can be a tricky task. Just ask Gym Class Heroes, who gave it a go on their recent album "The Quilt" but came out on the other side sounding a little corny.
When it comes to mixing and blending, it only makes sense to leave it to a DJ.
Enter J-Boogie’s Dubtronic Science, which is actually just one guy from San Francisco. And as a chorus of female voices kicks things off by crooning “Love your heart/Make sweet music,” the lines begin to blur, and the ladies speak truth.
"Soul Vibrations" is indeed sweet, a solid 70 minutes of bright, bouncy hip-hop that takes its cues from the various genres of music in and around sunny California. Bits of tropicalia (“Alegria”), low-rider funk (“Que Pasa”), mariachi horns and smooth jazz mingle with straight-forward hip-hop and little snatches of whatever J-Boogie decides to throw into the mix.
Nearly all of it works well. Even "Inferno," which sounds like it could bust out into a horrible European techno/house song at any time manages to stay interesting by way of a muted horn section and a little retro organ.
Pulsing jazz keyboards and warm, lush horn lines are a common thread throughout "Soul Vibrations," as a few underground MCs (Lyrics Born, Zion I, Crown City Rockers) join the occasional R&B singer for an album that has just enough pop moves to appeal to the mainstream fan while exhibiting plenty of street cred via a nice guest list and a good ear for where one can expand the basic framework of traditional hip-hop.
Working with a few consistent instruments gives J-Boogie the freedom to play with and incorporate different styles of music and still keep things from sounding slapped together.
The result is a laid-back, head-nodding hour or so.
Preview tracks from "Soul Vibrations" at Amazon.com.