Hi-Tek Hiteknology

Capitalising on his rapidly rising profile, Cincinnati producer Hi-Tek has made a shrewd move in delivering a solo shot that solidifies his rep and elevates his producer status. Despite the fact he's been producing for a while, it was last year's Train Of Thought album with partner Talib Kweli that brought close attention to Hi-Tek's beats, and proved to be his coming of age. While that record was dominated by Talib Kweli's urgent conscious rhymes, Hiteknology has a much looser feel, drawing on a number of MCs and vocalists. Even though Talib Kweli appears on a couple of tracks, Hi-Tek has noticeably selected Kweli in battling mode. Despite the appearance of Common on the invigoratingly strident "The Sun God," Hi-Tek favours rough-edged rhymers to bless his smooth and soulful tracks. Grimy performances from Cormega and the resurfaced Black Moon MC Buckshot are worth checking for, unlike the beat-wasting performances from virtual unknown Jinx Da Juvy and, more disappointingly, Slum Village. Hi-Tek balances things by generously incorporating airy female vocals throughout, even piecing together "Round and Round" for newcomer Jonell surprisingly well. As a showcase for his production skills, Hiteknology bears no major faults. Sure he's taking notes from Jay Dee and Pete Rock - slipping in their patented trademarks of hand claps and vocally spliced choruses now and then - but he's clearly well on his way to creating a signature style. Nowhere is this underlined more than on "Git To Steppin‚" the gorgeously arranged crown jewel of the album featuring the velvety vocals of Mos Def and Vinia Mojica, which begs to be played repeatedly over the summer. (Rawkus)