Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip
There is something to be said about having friends in high places - just ask DJ Hi-Tek. While the Cincinnati native may not show up on the radars of every Hip Hop fan out there, his list of guests surely will. Through years of being both a backpacker favorite as the production half of Reflection Eternal and a go-to beatmaker for Dr. Dre's Aftermath camp, Tek has gotten around.
Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip comes some five years after its stellar predecessor, which can be chalked up to the crumbling of Rawkus Records. Its no telling how this album would have sounded if it were released when it was originally supposed to a few years ago, but one listen to the '06 version and you likely won't care. Unlike some other well connected artists who cash in their friendships, favors or...cash, for musical assistance that is light years beyond their own capabilities (coughdiddycough), Tek is more likely to outshine his guests. Nati's finest not only makes some ridiculous beats, but he is a producer in the truest sense of the word. Much like a Dr. Dre or DJ Premier, Tone has knack for bringing out the best in whoever he works with; it's no coincidence that Talib hasn't made an album in the same league as Train of Thought since the duo split.
Tekzilla's ear and imagination is on display from the jump, pitting the unlikely pairing of Q-Tip and Kurupt and not only getting their best work in years, but making them sound like a natural combination. And while you go into the track wondering what The Abstract and Young Gotti will sound like together, it is the heavily featured crooner Dion who steals the show with his incredible hook. Dion kills it again on "Where It Started At (NY)," sounding completely different. However, the massive posse cut is much more notable for Tek's menacing beat and the blistering verses from Jada, Papoose, Talib and Raekwon. For those keeping track, I'm gonna give Jada the win here. The posse cuts don't end there though; Texas' own Bun B and Devin The Dude join Phili's Pretty Ugly and Dion for the smoked out "So Tired", and Pretty Ugly pops up again with Ghostface and The Willie Cottrell Band for the excellent "Josephine." The Strong Arm Steady crew stops through as well for "Money Don't Make U Rich," and while the song is by no means shitty, it's not on the level of the aforementioned tracks. I would have preferred last year's unified banger "How We Do It," representing all regions with Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli, Slim Thug and Hi-Tek (the song is featured on the bonus disc/limited edition). Regardless, the best of the bunch is probably "Music For Life," a beautiful flute-infused joint featuring Nas, Common, Busta Rhymes, Marsha of Floetry and Dilla.
It isn't all massive cuts though, Busta Rhymes goes for dolo for March and blesses Tek's militant beat as only he can. Game, who comes correct on the very Dr. Dre-ish "1-800 Homicide," is unfortunately cut short on the sub 2 minute song. Reflection Eternal-partner Talib stops by to rhyme alongside Tek for "Can We Go Back" and bookends Dion's show-stealing affair on "Let It Go." Tekzilla proves himself to be more than capable in the booth rocking over his own incredible beat on "The Chip." I can't forget to mention him making a certified banger out of his son's toy beat on "I Think I Got A Beat," the talent runs in the family it would seem.
Unlike the first installment of Hi-Teknology, which did not flow that well from front to back, Pt. 2 is a beautifully cohesive effort. Tek's normally obese instrumentals have been refined here, bringing a more soulful breeze that carries through the album. Many producers would see their limelight stolen on such a star-studded affair, but Tek has none of that. His performance creating beats, creating songs and creating an album is nothing short of masterful.