The one and only Cut Chemist played a show here in Portland this past weekend, touring on his new album Die Cut…his first full-length LP since 2006’s great The Audience’s Listening. It was great to see the energy, appreciation, and respect for Cut in the room; I’m a neophyte DJ-concert-goer-and-record-store-crate-digger, so it was cool to be surrounded by fans of Cut and the art/craft of DJing.
Some of the more special moments of the show included Cut’s long-time collaborator DJ Shortkut. Again, not being up steeped in DJ history or the early days West Coast underground hip-hop scene, I did not know Shortkut nor was I aware of his and Cut’s now-legendary early 90s collaborations and sessions. Whereas Cut is out here pushing the medium with modern sounds and influences, DJ Shortkut is just old-school, expert scratch-DJ, funk/soul/classic hip-hop sampling awesomeness. Cut had beats and songs and energy to spare, but, on this night, it was Shortkut who brought the party.
In interviews for the Die Cut album, Cut has said he pushed himself in different directions and really wanted to create a new style on the record. Based on his underground hip-hop origins, the vibe of his last record, and his past work with Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, I’d say he succeeded. The expertise is there on the album and the core sampling techniques too, but, he’s pulling from genres far beyond soul/funk and rap (80’s punk, electronica) and he’s creating beats and composing songs not from existing music, but just from layers and layers of sound.
It was inspiring to see someone so consumed by artistic expression, creativity, and his craft to be experimenting and making new music after 30+ years in the game.