Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Spirit of B-boy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 1999 at 12:00 AM

If we can still get away with talking about "keeping it real" then Sway & King Tech keep it real. These guys eat, sleep and breathe hip hop – now the proof is on wax.

This or That, the duo’s new offering, is a fresh, coherent statement from beginning to end: Be true to the music, don’t wear shiny suits, don’t drink Alize, just pass the mic and maybe bust a move (or at least a handstand or something).

You really get the point when you look at the hologram cover; in one image the trio is decked out in South Bronx b-boy attire and armed with two turntables and a microphone, while in the other you see them posing like the platinum-coated bad boy minstrels who won’t stop sipping champagne on MTV.

But it’s more than a statement, it’s a mix that’s tightly executed and sounds like the rugged spirit of hip hop past and present. When Sway, King Tech and their homeboy DJ Revolution mix tracks it sounds like the old-school making love to the new.

No doubt you’ll be in the groove when these hip hop tour guides-teachers go from Jurassic 5’s "Improvise" to Eric B. and Rakim’s classic "I Know You Got Soul" and then dig deep into the crate and pull out "Looking at the Front Door" by the oft-forgotten Main Source. And if you weren’t sweating and poplocking enough already, they hit you with bliss: "They Reminisce Over You" by Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth.

But mixing good music only means that Sway, Tech and Revolution have vision. They’ve got skills, too. And they flex them on dramatic intros, like the out cold, KRS-1-infused Dirty Harry theme, "The Number One Crew" and by the original beats they lay, like the one on "Get You Mad," Eminem’s fuck the industry, fuck Master P, ICP and Puff Daddy cut. Sway and King Tech (like the Beat Junkies) musically continue the trend of West Coast DJs dropping the hottest East Coast flavored jams, but there are still too many verses (maybe by that permanently angry Chino XL) that waste good beats talking about player haters, guns and money.

Overall, This or That is a dope product that will play in your car, or even better in your headphones while you lamp on public transportation. But you can’t blame Sway and Tech if KRS-1 didn’t flow on every track. So maybe they aren’t necessarily the self-appointed saviors of hip hop, but they throw down a hot mix.

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