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Artist: DJ Bionic
Album: DJ Bionic Presents Real Hip Hop Chapter 1
Label: USM
Turntable work: DJ Bionic
Music by: K-Otix, DITC, Cali Agents, Quasimoto, Ghostface Killah, Mos Def, Zion-I, Encore, Masterminds, Lootpack, Mobb Deep, LP
Stats: 16 Tracks at 48mins16secs
Reviewed by: Eitan Prince aka Supafly

The compilation album has been a staple for South African Hip-Hop. I remember a "Cape Hip Hop Classics" comp that contained material dating back to 1990. There was the "Muthaload Compilation" in 1997 - a badly promoted, lopsided effort that was also ridiculously high-priced. "Real Hip Hop Chapter 1", however, is a first for SA; it's an actual mix tape - something that I was hoping would challenge those wack-ass "Bump" mix CDs.

"Chapter 1" is mixed exclusively by DJ Bionic aka Bradley, a name that will ring a bell for those in know: he's down with Chop Su - the DJ crew who, through the keen ears and turntable efforts of DJ Blaze, Mr Bigga etc, have had underground Hip-Hop on lock in the J-section.

However, the formula for "Chapter 1" aims at the basic - a collection of singles that aspire to that underground aesthetic, held together by Bionic's mixing techniques, with an occasional Chop Su skit thrown in to give some shout outs and add colour. The overall objective of the album, as Bionic puts it, is "to fill the current gap in the hip-hop scene... [and] to stimulate your thoughts for a hot second - without any ad breaks".

A fat dose of dopeness

For the informed head, this album will look like an assemblage of the underground's usual suspects. DITC's blazing 1999 single 'Thick' (with verses by OC, Big L and AG) is sandwiched between K-Otix's 'Questions' and Cali Agents' 'The Goodlife', as Bionic represents the United States' East coast, West coast and even the South. There's a double dose of Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah as Bionic mixes 'One' (from 2000's highly acclaimed "Supreme Clientele") with Mos Def and Tony Stark's 'Miss Fat Booty 2', before breaking into some turntable gymnastics to introduce Zion-I's 'Critical' - its DJ Premier-like production maintaining the upbeat mood initiated on 'Thick'.

The mix draws on more varied sounds in the second half, turning to Encore's laidback 'Love & Hate' before Masterminds' off-kilter 'Seven', Lootpack's 'Wheni'mondamic' and Mobb Deep's 'Quiet Storm remix' completely throw things over the top with a fat dose of dopeness. Sadly at this stage, Bionic's mixing doesn't complement the tracks and ruins the fluency of the album just as it hits its peak.

This could inspire SA DJs to get off their asses

There is, however, little doubt that Bionic has an ear tuned for banging tracks - in fact, all these tracks are hitting either lyrically, production-wise or both, but his product falls short in two areas. The album's sound quality, which I can't ignore, is simply horrid, sounding as if it hadn't been properly mastered or mixed down, with all the 'clarity' and 'quality' of medium-wave radio. The inconsistent turntable work is another hindrance. While it's obvious that Bionic is a skilled DJ, he simply hasn't presented himself well here: frequently rushing his blend and compromising the flow of an otherwise excellent selection of tracks.

But, "Real Hip Hop" shows that there's much potential to work with and hopefully we'll see a more polished attempt on the promised "Chapter 2". Still, this album is not to be underestimated and could (and I'm hoping it will) inspire South Africa's DJs to get off their asses and do what they've been threatening for years: put our music on the map. [6.5/10]

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