J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science
My familiarity with J-Boogie comes from the various remix and edit work he has done in the past (including one he made for Vieux Farka Touré’s “Fafa” from 2009) as well as his collaboration with fan favorites People Under the Stairs, Quantic and his Combo Barbaro, Bay Area compadres Zion I, Goapele and Raashan Ahmad spanning multiple projects, personal and by others. By no means an exhaustive list, J-Boogie’s talent is undeniable and his knowledge of mixing, sampling, and creating great-sounding gems continues to this day. J-Boogie’s extensive network of collaborative efforts ranges from beautiful and carefree reggae, to dub, cumbia (see “El Ritmo” feat Deuce Eclipse & Caipo of Bang Data on this release), jazz and afrobeat returning all the way back to the main modern musical disciplines of hip-hop and electronic. With shared creations featuring OM labelmates Mark Farina and Kaskade, J-Boogie has done it all. His influence can be seen throughout contemporary music, and contemporary music’s influence can as well be seen in his always-current, fresh and energetic sound. There’s a certain way that J-Boogie “does repetition” in the forms of choruses and hooks that just makes sense the Touré track is a perfect example and this record employs this method to great effect once more.
J-Boogie’s Dubtronic Science or J-Boogie for short just dropped some heavy joints on Undercover, his long-awaited solo release since his work on the immensely enjoyable Soul Vibrations from 2008. Undercover picks up where Soul Vibrations left off, displaying J-Boogie’s diverse styles and tastes in an idiosyncratic yet coherent mixture of influences and experiments. This record, generally speaking, is very very funky. Case in point is “It’s On Fire” with another Bay Area homie, Lateef the Truthspeaker. Another example demonstrating this feel is the larger than life joint “Blue Mountain Dub” featuring Jazz Mafia—what a track, wow. This entire record is an awesome party, one that I’d never like to end. While some songs are weaker than others, there is no wholly bad track on this album—there’s just different flavors that speak to different people, but nevertheless transmit talent and artistry on behalf of their creator J-Boogie. It is sometimes the case that too much of a wide range in servicing different tastes can prove detrimental and detract from the product as a whole.
The more hard-hitting jams on Undercover have to be the title track “Undercover” featuring Chrys Anthony as well as “Go to Work” featuring The Pimps of Joytime. Personally, I can’t get over “Undercover.” Guest Chrys Anthony’s voice is on point on this cut, and the horn samples coupled with the funky bass prove to be a delectable combination impossible to overlook. Going into a jazz solo midway through, this song impresses the earbuds and keeps the finger snaps coming—it’s been awhile since a track hit me with this much audio stimulation. As a result of doing this review I went and picked up the “Undercover” single that contains quite the collection of remixes of this song including one by J5’s own DJ Nu-Mark—but as in most cases, the original is by far superior. Props to J-Boogie for handling this track with care and precision.
With a host of producers and musicians turning to the Latin American for inspiration, there can be a lot of misuse and misinterpretation of some of the influences (given their histories and cultural contexts), Quantic is a good example of what you should be doing when using Latin flavors in your music, and if you have aspirations of making music with Latin rhythms (as you should) he is the model. There is a definite way to treat your sample sources and your influences, and J-Boogie and his band “Dubtronic Science” clearly do this, paying homage to the beloved cumbia of Central and Sudamérica in interesting, pleasing, and novel ways. He does the same for African-inspired tracks like “No Freedom” featuring Afrolicious & MC Zulu. J-Boogie as producer and his entourage of emcees, vocalists and percussionists are a potent and dynamic musical force. Undercover proves his versatility and vision. You heard it here first: J-Boogie is your favorite producer’s favorite producer.
Peep some of the links below to check out “Undercover,” “It’s On Fire” and some other J-Boogie goodness.