Record Review 

Recently celebrating 10 years in business, San Francisco's Bomb Hip-Hop Records helped launch the turntablist era in 1995 with the release of Return of the DJ Vol. I. The album showcased a roster of great unrecognized (at the time) scratch DJs, including the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Cut Chemist, Rob Swift, Mix Master Mike and Peanut Butter Wolf. Later, Bomb showed it had a place in its heart for Atlanta by putting out the debut by local DJ Faust.

So it's good to see that the new Return of the DJ Vol. IV includes DJ T-Rock, a member of the Citizenz, the crew that includes DJs Faust and Shortee. Though T-Rock -- who also has associations with Cincinnati DJ Mr. Dibbs' 1200 Hobos crew -- recently moved to North Carolina, he's still representin' the ATL on this collection of new names.

For diehard scratchheads, the Return of the DJ series is heaven. Big Names (Q-Bert) join no-names (for now) and the recently name-checked (like DMC/Technics World DJ Championship competitor Snayk Eyez). Most of the tracks follow the same formula: Build a loop and flex skills over it. Sure, all the DJs have flare, but unless your itch is to scratch, you may not be itchin' for this.

T-Rock, meanwhile, has learned that it takes a little something extra to scratch your way to the top. While his 1999 debut, Who's Your Daddy? (Bomb Hip-Hop), featured vocal samples scratched atop old-school- flavored beats, his latest, Sikinthehed (on Mr. Dibbs' label), shows a more mature sense of song structure. Here he uses scratch as textural element rather than the main attraction. The slower, darker, almost bitter beats are better paced, perhaps thanks to production input from Squashy Nice. A good choice for anyone sick of DJs masturbating with their turntables.


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