To the point, Cut Chemist is one ill ass deejay. His work with Jurassic 5 is legendary. The production work he’s done for various artists is always on point, body rocking and head-nodding. Which brings us to his highly anticipated debut album on Warner Brothers Records, The Audience’s Listening. It’s not that the record is bad; it’s just not “Glorious turntable wizardry,” as URB magazine is quoted as saying. In fact, there’s not much by way of turntablism going on, at least, not to a level you’d notice. Plus, the album is only 12 tracks deep, and almost half of them clock in at a Punk-defying 2 1/2 minutes or less!
To be fair, there’s some nice amount of DJ techniques on the song “Spat,” which contains a sample of an old X-Clan joint; additional scratching comes courtesy of Pannable Lector. The intro skit “Motivational Speaker,” and the breezy “(My 1st) Big Break” also feature some of the niceness we’ve come to expect from one of the genres most gifted of turntable wizards. However, the latter’s sound scape is shaped more by the rhythmic guitar—courtesy of Kent Hitchcock—and the digitatized Kraftwerk-esque loops and samples that make up its center.
It would be remiss to forget that Cut Chemist is a producer, too. And for this record, his diggin’ in the crates ethos and song arrangement is what’s on display. “The Garden,” a six-plus minute ride through the Brazilian nightlife, is actually a very worthy track; its percussion and rhythms vibrating through your body as opposed to just caressing your eardrums. Also, “What’s The Altitude,” featuring Hymnal, is a fun hip hop cum romance ditty that is both lyrically and aurally pleasing. “Storm,” however, featuring the off-kilter Edan and the indelible Mr. Lif, while highlighting both parties nicely, falls short of the usual boom bap quality these MC’s are used to creating. “Spoon” is probably the most b-boy of all the songs, as is the much too short title track. If these had been the bulk of the record, Cut Chemists’ debut outing would have been considered a rousing success. As it stands, the album is more of a dreamy back drop. Spacey dinner party music, if you’d rather. It lacks that B-Boy anthem edge.