I’ve long been fan and impressed by the work of, UK Turntablist and Producer, DJ Format. In the late 90s, DJ Format started to pick up traction, build his foundation and solidify his style. Some of his first work that caught my attention were his B-boy break-beat anthems via some compilation contributions and a few 7” singles. That led up to his debut album, “Music For The Mature B-Boy” in 2003, which I found myself giving significant DJ spins and listening time.
A few things are immediately evident when listening to a DJ Format album or mixtape. For one, he has a deep-rooted passion for 80s Hip Hop. He has a knack for taking familiar break-beats and breathing new life into them. In turn, he is able to take unfamiliar break-beat sounds and structure them in a way that perfectly sound like a great break, lost in time, and finally discovered. In other words, he is a true student, turned scientist of the craft. He’s meticulous in his methods and the results are fascinating.
On his “Statement Of Intent” album he covers a variety of classic traditional B-Boy vibes, as well as some experimental sounds and nails them all with astounding precision.
The opener and title track, “Statement Of Intent”, makes effective use of varying wailing guitars, rugged drums, “Synthetic Substitution” breakdowns, and an assemblage of sound bytes. That’s nicely paired with scattered vocal snippets of 80s Brooklyn underground, vastly overlooked, supreme lyricists, Ultimate Choice. All that is vocally supported by frequent collaborator Sureshot La Rock, who pays tributes to some Hip Hop innovators and icons with a series of quotes, reworked lines and his own personal flavor.
The music for “Spaceship Earth” assumes the characteristics of the suggested audio vibe. There are spacey echoes and odd noises that are accented with effect-heavy guitars. The tempo is kicked up to just about as fast you can reasonably expect a human to be able to Rap. Edan holds his composure with ease over the breakneck speed. He starts off with a more broken up style, but then heavily sprinkles in some full-speed portions with amazing accuracy and articulation, leaving no doubt that he is fully capable of managing the full speed assault. There’s no question that DJ Format’s beat is holding it’s own here, but it is virtually impossible to listen to this and not drift off for a second and fantasize about the next Edan album. I’ll pretend that is why the songs breaks has no hook, chorus, or scratching, just a outer-worldly beat for you to ponder about what Edan might possibly be creating in the studio…
For “Beyond Disco” and “Battle Of The Planets” Format effectively delves into some Electro Fusion stylings. “Beyond Disco” has a space-disco feel with a break-beat touch. Both tracks feature one of DJ Format’s other projects, TheSimonsound, which introduces a nice touch of Vocoder. I also gave him a psychic hi-five immediately upon hearing his use of Kool Kyle and Master Jay & Michael Dee in the mix. “Battle Of The Planets” is more like imagining Clyde Stubblefield playing drums in a disciplined frenzy to a hyped Man Parrish track.
Sureshot La Rock makes a few other appearances thru out the album. “A Quick Ego Trip” is pretty self-explanatory, as he gives himself all the props for just under two minutes. “Remember” is a throwback track with him writing a letter to “Yvette” (from that LL Cool J song for those who are down by law) and updating her on what’s been happening in Hip Hop, specifically giving the latest stats on nearly all the ladies who have been the subject of rap songs thru the years; Jane (EPMD), Millie (De La Soul), Faye & Sally (Stetsasonic), Bonita Applebum (Tribe), Roxanne (U.T.F.O), Quarter Gram Pam (Positive K), Latoya (Just-Ice), Mahogany (Rakim), Mona Lisa (Slick Rick), etc… It’s mixed with humor, wit, and certainly some misogyny, but ultimately is a feel good song about Hip Hop’s distant past. DJ Format provides a nice jazzy track with minimal drums to set the mood. Perhaps the best team-up of DJ Format and Sureshot La Rock is “Mr DJ”, an excellent DJ dedication track, borrowing from the styles of Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Low Profile, and T.D.S Mob. “Live At The At The Place To Be” brings in additional player to rock alongside Sureshot La Rock, the underground champ, Phil Most Chill. Phil Most Chill sounds great on the track, like he’s never missed a beat from the late 80s. Definitely an album highlight.
Mr Lif makes an appearance on “Terror”, which has him revisiting a darker outer-wordly style that is reminiscent of his approach in the late 90s days of “This Won” and “Electro”.
DJ Format also takes some moments to focus on the beats with a few instrumental pieces. Among the best are “Copper Crayons” (a moody and melodic track with some slightly mechanical sounding drum work) and Horse Power (an up-tempo B-Boy styled banger).
On his two collaborations with The Nostalgia 77 Quintet he takes the instrumental experiments further with some all out jazz arrangements. Particularly on “The Long Goodbye”, which could make you think there was manufacturing error at the plant and this song got snuck on the Format album. Regardless, it’s a nice way to close out the album. It could just as easily have been named “The Peaceful Goodbye”…
“Statement Of Intent” effectively showcases the varied range of DJ Format’s production skills, turntable prowess, appreciation for different musical backgrounds and vast knowledge of Hip Hop. In doing that, it is certainly true that you could section the album into a few different categories and make the argument they are the starting points for four different types of albums; Throwback Hip Hop, Downtempo, New Age Jazz & B-Boy Electro, but to me that was part of the appeal of the album…never knowing what to expect next from track to track. Mr Format I salute your statement and sentiment…more please.