El Da Sensei Relax Relate Release

Along with Redman's cousin Tame One, El Da Sensei established himself in the Newark, NJ, crew the Artifacts, who debuted with "Wrong Side Of The Tracks,” one of the relatively few hip-hop tracks dedicated to graffiti bombing. The duo's verbals over the snaky saxophone loop and gritty funk of that 1994 single led to two albums of their brand of dynamite soul before their break-up, and El Da Sensei's subsequent appearances have been on intermittent twelve-inches. Sticking to the formula that he started with, El Da Sensei details his b-boy credentials while underscoring the tension between art and commerce on "So Think Again.” By allowing ample room for his DJ Kaos to flex his razor-sharp cuts throughout, it's evident El Da Sensei is overly cognisant of representing hip-hop's elements. Not surprisingly, the sounds on Relax Relate Release are reminiscent of those that dominated in the Artifacts' heyday — "So Easily” is held down by sinewy upright bass and crashing cymbals, and El shines over the breezy flute change-up on "Eternally.” While you won't find mind-bending flows here, El Da Sensei's consistent lyrics over the capable production mark him as a passionate practitioner and devotee of hip-hop culture. (Seven Heads)