DJ Vadim

DJ Vadim

U.S.S.R.: The Art of Listening

Ninja Tune

While being a reviewer is far from being a grind, there are times that can cause one trouble: when there’s an album so delicious you simply don’t want to review it. For, once you do, you have to move on to the next disc and the next, and you never know when you can hear that beloved product again. The Art of Listening is exactly that kind of disc for yours truly.

Vadim continues his obsession with the old Soviet, plumbing new, ground-breaking territory hip-hop definitely needs to explore. If there was ever any doubt before, this album puts Vadim at the top of the hip-hop game. He has added new dimensions to his dark, brooding sound; his broken beats have greater depth; and much of the music has broken through to actual composition. There are hybrid styles that are integrated into mesmerizing wholes. “Revelations Well Expounded,” for example, is a brilliant beat-box be-bop masterpiece. “It’s On” is an abstracted neo-soul gem with the Kalashnikov rapid-fire rhymes of Vakill. “Ghetto Rebels” is a minimalist soul/blues with the British Das Efx, Phi Life Cypher, and if only everything could be as brilliant as “Too Fun Aiye,” an immaculate glimpse into Afrobeat’s future with Ade Soma and G Ruff — not to mention the millennial funk of “That Which is Coming” and the dark, hip-hop ragga, “Who Me.”

This is a rare album that leaves you stunned with each track. There’s no filler, no dead weight, simply sheer brilliance with every note you hear. Vadim bangs on this album like very few producers can, and hip-hop would change drastically if a lot of folks took time to hear Art of Listening.

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