HouseShoes Let It Go

If J. Dilla has been Detroit hip-hop's most influential recent figure, then DJ HouseShoes is the stern, no-frills custodian of that legacy, known to regulate violators and opportunists circling the music James Yancey created. After all, HouseShoes the DJ was instrumental in helping Dilla spread his name and music in the early days of his career. Though HouseShoes (née Michael Buchanan) moved from Detroit to L.A. a few years ago, on the evidence of Let It Go, he still reps the Motor City – hard. HouseShoes takes various aspects of Dilla's sound as a starting point, so sloppy, hard-hitting drums, serviceable rap braggadocio and gritty, soul-speckled beats are de rigueur. Highlights include Big Tone's undeniable "Time" and the minimalist malevolence of the self-explanatory "Dirt," featuring Oh No, the Alchemist and Roc Marciano. However, the respect he gets from luminaries like Mayer Hawthorne and Royce the 5'9 underlines the high regard in which he is held. That's probably why Detroit hip-hop's fastest rising artist, Danny Brown, refuses to phone it in, owning the standout "Sweet" from the first moment the mic catches wind of his high-pitched voice. Waajeed (an original member of J. Dilla's group, Slum Village, who went on to be the driving force behind Platinum Pied Pipers) sums up matters best on one of the many interludes sprinkled throughout. While he says, "I'll be honest ,I don't really like HouseShoes," in a tone that belies neither irony or seriousness, his assertion that HouseShoes is "mad passionate, especially about Detroit music" is unequivocally confirmed by Let It Go. (Tres)