Mr. Scruff Keep it Solid Steel (Pt. 1)

When a DJ has his own branded tea pots and extra large mugs on his site’s merch page, you know he’s more concerned with being comfortable than being cool. Fortunately for the listening public, Mr. Scruff manages to swing both ways on his crack at a Solid Steel mix, the Ninja Tune series known for its off-the-beaten-path quality control. Scruff clears the bar and then some with a sweet mélange of hip-hop with soul, jazz and breaks, all with the unpretentious and light funky touch we’re used to from the Tea Warden. In total, he’s shredded 31 cuts, keeping them to short choice snippets around the two-minute mark. This tidy technique allows and forces him to do some sweetly succinct blending, like the new old-skool hip-hop trio of the Arsonists’s "Flashback” into Erykah Badu’s "Back in the Day,” to UTD’s "My Kung Fu” in less than five minutes. The only dud (I skip it every time) is Sarah Winton’s "Tell Me How,” a cheeseball, old hip-hop beat with a house vocal that makes me cringe. However, even when I skip that track the vibe is quickly bridged and the mix flows like fondue. Overall, Scruff’s tempered metal works is like wearing a thickly knitted sweater on a cool fall day: comfortable, refreshing, happily nostalgic and most importantly, highly enjoyable. (Ninja Tune)