The Likwit Crew is known for its MC prowess (The Alkaholiks, Xzibit, and King Tee). The Beat Junkies are known for their “diggin’ in the crates”, lucid hip hop tracks and turntable techniques. So when the best of both worlds (no disrespect to R.Kelly and Jay-Z) come together to form the Likwit Junkies, it should be no surprise that the project be top notch.
DJ Babu, known mostly for his time with that crew Dilated Peoples, has teamed up with the most underrated, arguably least known member of the Likwit crew, Defari, to craft what turns out to be a little slice of heaven. Though the LP doesn’t start off banging like you might expect when the tracks are produced by one of the industries dopest deejays, it doesn’t disappoint. And, it gets better with time. Tracks that feature lauded rap artists Phil Da Agony & Evidence (Strength In Numbers) and Planet Asia (One Time) are that good ole street shit that you expect from such collaborations. While the sweet serenading of featured vocalist Noelle—who appears on the lead track L.J.’s Anthem and the much better, moody Ghetto—is nothing if not intoxicating, reminding you of the time when “R&B hooks” were natural parts of a songs progression, not the calculated formula that its become today. Keep Doin’ It, which was featured on one of the Scion mixtape series CD’s, is a bouncy, sample laden affair that seems to channel the best of Talib Kweli, and offers a glimpse of the chemistry that exists when the MC and the DJ are in sync. And the lead single One Day Away is noteworthy for its “raw energy…and gritty, sober lyrics.”
However, it’s the last three songs, Dark Ends (featuring Rakaa), Dreamgirl(featuring Dodee Westbeach), and especially Brother with its socially conscious viewpoint, that are the stuff that you buy music for; the kind of tracks that make you want to hear more from the artists that produce them. If you like real hip hop music, then this is where you want to get on the train and ride awhile; soaking up the ambience of the L.J. union like a warm summer day.
It took about a decade of collaborations and camaraderie for these Los Angeles natives to finally sit back and concoct this 15 track mix. And while the project isn’t the runaway success you might initial hope for from such a dream team, it is a solid piece of work. Its chemistry laying mainly in the way it allows the two distinct personalities to blend their differing styles together, while still maintaining their integrity. Its classic hip hop, drifting across the plains of the “Golden era” of this cultural movement, without sounding dated in it. An album you can listen to without constantly saying to yourself “where have I heard this before?” Pick up your own copy and get drunk off that real West Coast sauce.