Jigmastas Infectious

It's been a long time coming, but the Jigmastas, better known as DJ Spinna and MC Kriminul, have finally gotten around to issuing their debut album. As part of the indie hip-hop renaissance of the mid-'90s, the Jigmastas have issued a steady flow of singles from their Beyond Real foundation over the past few years, while Spinna has been arguably one of the busiest producers in the scene from which they blossomed. Any questions of why Spinna was in so much demand are quickly answered by listening to the work he put into the soul and jazz-influenced beats presented on Infectious. He isn't afraid to experiment but makes sure he does so after establishing the recognisable bounce of his boom-bap beats are in place. On "Hollar," he invites Vernon Reid, of the newly reformed Living Colour, to contribute some licks, and he masterfully builds a thumping track around a quirky hand clapping sample on "Don't Get It Twisted," featuring Brand Nubian alumni Sadat X. While Spinna's beats provide ample ear candy, Kriminul's performance on the mic isn't always as compelling. His content is stacked with wisdom and knowledge, but his delivery is often a step behind the beats and can lead to short attention spans. Thankfully, there are some nice assists from the likes of Truth Enola and Apani B, whose dramatic woman scorned verse on "Apology Not Accepted" is a clear highlight. But the album is clearly DJ Spinna's show, as he continues to resist settling into a sonic comfort zone. (Groove Attack)