There was a time when a DJ had to prove themselves on the wheels of steel before they could even think about releasing an album. Noted turntablist DJ Honda is a classic example of this as he parlayed a runner-up performance in a DJ completion into a recording contract with Sony Music Japan. Fast forward 17 later and he’s back with the fourth installment in his “h” series, DJ HondaIV. The premise of the album is simple, Honda provides the beats/scratches & emcees of varying degrees of notoriety provide the lyrics. Unfortunately, all parties involved are rarely ever on the same page.
Starting strong out the gate, Honda front loads the album with the most recognizable names. Triumphant horns and Soul samples are a common thread as the likes of Kool G. Rap, Rakaa Iriscience, EPMD & Mos Def all lend their vocal talents. Mos’ “Magnetic Arts” is him at his rambling man best, while “Let It Out” allows Rakaa some solo shine. Kool G Rap & EPMD, come off sounding somewhat rejuvenated on their outings and thankfully don’t embarrass themselves.
On the flip of the coin, Fred Durst plays court jester on “The Incredible.” Why he was allowed anywhere near a booth outside of his own project is mind-boggling. The remainder of the album is comprised of newcomers, undergound artists & industry cast-offs. While this doesn‘t sound like the most appealing line-up, most of the artists perform admirably. “Another Day,” finds The Kid Daytona & Juganot nonchalantly spitting about going through the daily grind stands out. Ras Kass stops running long enough to contribute on “Throw Your Hands” & Lord Tariq delivers a solid verse on “30 Some Odd.”
It’s usually the artists that garner blame when things go awry, but this time around they aren’t given the chance to royally screw things up. Clocking in at a svelte 39 minutes and a majority of the songs maxing out at 2:30, h IV leaves you yearning for more… literally. The shortened length leaves them on the fence about the weaker songs… and the songs are usually over before can decide to skip the song for themselves. Production is IV’s spine, as the consistency in the beat quality and varied instrumental flourishes keep heads nodding, even when the lyrics don’t.