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Record Review 

What the hell do two Finnish producers know about hip-hop? The nontraditional answer comes in the form of BEATitude, the second full-length from James Spectrum and JA-Jazz, collectively Pepe Deluxe. With BEATitude, it appears Pepe knows quite a lot about hip-hop -- the first and foremost fact being that hip-hop is what you make of it, no matter what you make it with.

Pepe approaches production not like the Neptunes -- making signature beds for interchangeable MCs -- but instead as hip-hop DJs, pulling seemingly disparate elements together with mellifluous finesse. Forget "electronica." That was some late '90s fad. BEATitude recalls a scratch DJ record. The beats juggle and samples jumble, but the emphasis is on mixing.

Each little routine follows a theme full of snippets that seem familiar as they flare and fade. Working with 34 internationally culled musicians, Pepe Deluxe has refined and redefined favorite moods and grooves. "Salami Fever" cuts up wah-wah guitar like it's Eddie Van Halen wanking through "Eruption." "Little Miss Cypher" swells in strings bringing to mind the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." There's Bollywood, bossa, even dusky DJ Shadow-style breaks.

It's wholly appropriate that a song was deemed thematic enough for a Levi's Twisted Jeans ad, seeing as how Pepe Deluxe excel in twisting musical genes. With BEATitude, Pepe use their production prowess to splice samples into a series of new beat-borne helices comfortable and familiar as denim but full of new nips, tucks and cuts.

JA-Jazz DJs at Halo Sat., Nov. 22. Call for ticket info.

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