St. Louis, Missouri -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/26/2006 -- It’s likely one has never heard of DJ Crucial or F5 records. That’s okay – he doesn’t take it personally. Based in St. Louis, F5 is a renaissance label of sorts, more interested in allocating their limited cash to securing the illest talent available than running a nation-wide media blitz. Since founding the label in the fall of 1998, DJ Crucial has been on a constant grind. Unconcerned with the industry-wide fallacy that exposure somehow equates to talent, he’s spent the last seven years quietly amassing a catalog of underground hits, pressing them as limited-run 12”s for the enjoyment of those in the know. Test Presses and Dub Plates is a collection of this material, packaged together into one continuous mix of timeless bangers, transcending silly industry divisions between the gangster and backpacker.
Notice first the F5 artists: Serengeti, Hi-Fidel, Nato Caliph, The Committee (w/Toyy and Jia Davis), Jonathan Toth from Hoth, and Altered States, all of whom have garnered national praise from no less than UndergroundHipHop, Giant Peach, Vapors, URB, and glowing reviews from the now-defunct HipHopInfinity. Next, notice the guest spots: MF Doom, MC Eiht, Slug, MF Grimm, JUICE, Rayna Shine, J-TREDS, and Rubberroom. Convinced yet? If not, pay attention to the man who introduces Test Presses and Dub Plates, none other than the legendary DJ Premier.
Crucial is as adept with the Technics as he is the classic SP 1200 and MPC. To pin down his production style requires searching that sonic range between Primo and Pete Rock. In Crucial’s sample-heavy beats, horns mingle with strings and Spanish guitars, snares skitter over 808 drops, and vocal samples are scratched together for choruses and flavor. The result is music that is both classic and revolutionary, the kind of hip-hop our collective nostalgia longs for and 2006 is lucky to have.
Test Presses and Dub Plates is an anthology of F5’s existence, an album impossibly strong from start to finish, and to pick “stand-out tracks” borders on sacrilege. And though the song arrangement shifts from the local hero to the international star, at no point does quality falter. The album is a journey from head-nodder (“Gingerbread Man”) to thought-provoker (“Without a Doubt”) and back again (“Coronation (Remix)”). The journey reaches its apex with Crucial’s remix of J-Toth and MF Doom’s “Ghostwhirl,” of which URB rightfully said, “The only thing fresher than the original is the whimsical remix…(5/5 Stars).” The journey comes to a close with the ethereal “Midwest (Remix)” featuring a classic verse from the Rhymesayers’ icon Slug.
On a long enough timeline, talent will always overpower obscurity. Crucial has forged a tight bond with Grimm’s DaybyDay Entertainment. The coming months will see the release of MF Grimm’s American Hunger, on which Crucial contributes the bulk of production. And with new collaborations with golden-era heavyweights Large Professor, Sach, formerly of The Nonce, and Kurious, it won’t belong before Crucial’s name is among the lights.
Test Presses and Dub Plates is just the beginning.