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Wednesday, May 16,2001



Hi-Teknology / Rawkus

The solo debut of Cincinnati-bred hip-hop producer and beat master Hi-Tek‹whose 2000 release with Talib Kweli, Reflection Eternal, garnered critical acclaim‹features emcees Common, Mos Def, Cormega, Jinx Da Juvy, Buckshot and Kweli; the soulful, velvet voice of Cincinnatian Jonell; Hi-Tekıs longtime Mid-West partners in rhyme, Mood; and Tek himself on the title-track.

Hi-Teknology starts out strong with Chicago heavy-hitter Common backed up by Vinia Mojica on the thick, funky, Afro-techno "The Sun God." Flowinı Like Water For Chocolate, Common raps up front "Iım gonna give it as far as you can take it," illuminating torn souls and urban decay with tough and tender lines like "look how far Eldorados and wine bottles drug use." Kweli backs up Tek this time on the rapid-fire "Get Back Part 2," using the Glock in his brain to have a "conversation with your imagination" which melds smoothly with Tekıs guitar-lick loop and heaps much respect on DJ Hi-Tek, Cincinnati and the Tek/Kweli consciousness-provoking mission (a.k.a, Reflection Eternal). "Theme From Hi-Tek," an equally aggressive barrage with Tek on beats and Kweli on (voice) box, blends an almost comic strip loop with an echo effect that makes Kweli sound like an emcee times three while he boasts like an old-school rapper battling on a Brooklyn street corner.

The texture of Hi-Teknologyıs hip-hop, r&b, soul and jazz is softened by fellow Cincinnatian Jonell, whom Hi-Tek collaborated with after she gave him a sample of her sultry voice in a night club. "All I Need Is You" couples Jonell with Cormega, whose sentimental flow endorses new-school, positive relations with women, while keeping it rough with lyrics like: "When I was running the street I know you wanted to leave/Especially the time you found a nine in my jeans." Jonell also showcases her subtle vocal abilities on "Round and Round," representing the more r&b end of Hi-Teknologyıs extensive spectrum.

A lyrical jumble of hip-hopıs up-and-coming emcees built on Hi-Tekıs solid bedrock of beats, Hi-Teknology provides a taste test of grooves ranging from the smooth and breezy on Jonellıs "Round and Round," to the "real as it gets" confessions of Jinx Da Juvy on "Where Iım From."

-P.W. Miller

Bill Sell
Bill Sell
Album One (Pre-Release) / BouCou

First making himself known to the Weekly back in March when he was struggling with the irony of playing a folky, anti-corporate ditty ("The Decline and Fall of the Pearl Street Mall") at Starbucksı first annual Boulder Folk and Rock Awards, Bill Sell is in the process of releasing Album One with Boulderıs BouCou Record Company. While the rough tracks we previewed donıt stand out musically above the steel-string crowd, Sellıs lyrical expose of Boulder landmarks like Penny Lane‹and yes, The Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks‹drip with wordplay and subtle, tongue-in-cheek observations of Boulder society.

"The Decline and Fall of the Pearl Street Mall" captures Boulderıs frustration with immigrants from California, New York and Texas, but doesnıt spare natives either. "Well there came a lot of kids because there was a college and they had a little money and got cocky," he sings. "Well they moved into the mountains bought big houses, started selling beer and coffee." While he semi-seriously wails against chain stores on the "outskirts of town," and potential infiltrators, like Wendyıs, it sounds as if heıs reading the chorus off someone elseıs protest placard: "I ainıt gonna eat at The Cheesecake Factory and I ainıt gonna go to Starbucks."

His Starbucks substitute is Penny Lane, the coffee house where Sell regularly performs and the establishment he characterizes in "Penny Lane." "A whoıs who of whoıs cool," Sellıs coffee house is a bastion of warmth from a cold February where poets, dudes, hippies, skin heads, mocha monks and punks congregate behind "steamy windows, wet and drippy." "Who are you, whatıs your name, and how did you find Penny Lane?" he wonders, as his voice seems to drift off into the fog above the Flatirons.

The other, decaf tracks we sampled were "Boy," a hilarious examination of the joys and bittersweat realities of being born male; "Nobody Wails," a unique, almost irreverent, glance at the beginning of life (packed with double entendres) and the birth and death of a child; and "Symbiotic and Glorious," which extends Sellıs procreative theme, one reminiscent of Pink Floydıs "Mother" with an American Folk openness.

A little John Prine, a little Bob Dylan, a little Sigmund Freud, Sellıs imminent release, Album One, is a must have for the Boulder coffee house crowd who might find themselves occasionally drifting into Starbucks, but would rather walk to Penny Lane.

-P.W. Miller -->

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