There are thousands of DJs who roam the music world these days, each with pockets of recognition and bits of fame. A few hundred of those actually have careers, built from a certain knowledge of music and skill, particularly in the genre of hip-hop. They disseminate that musical message behind two turntables or a production board earning their keep.
But only one DJ can be considered one of the best live performance DJs ever, by both fans and peers. Only one DJ can lay claim to being among the first new-school turntablists to incorporate thunderous rock riffs, right alongside meaty funk beats, swinging soul riffs and old hip-hop breaks. Only one DJ consistently headlines sold-out shows around the world. Only one DJ has been personally asked by Linkin Park, Cypress Hill, DJ Shadow and Dave Matthews to join them on the road. Only one DJ can be called the progenitor of the modern-day mash-up.
We’re talking, of course, about Z-Trip.
After years of forging an emblematic identity as one of hip-hop’s preeminent DJs and showmen, Z-Trip has created his debut album, Shifting Gears. It’s a time-traveling, stylistic opus that lives up to his reputation as being one of today’s modern day music masters.
The album finds Z-Trip translating the energy and language of his performances into a cohesive, robust album. Shifting Gears displays Z-Trip’s own instrumental meditations and head-nodding collaborations with old-school veterans (Whipper Whip, Chuck D), vital contemporary MCs (Lyrics Born, Soup of Jurassic 5, Aceyalone, et al) and multiplatinum rocker Chester Bennington.
Shifting Gears is as much about hip-hop as it is an embodiment of Z-Trip’s personal music journey. “On one hand, it represents the kind of sound that’s in my crate when I go out and DJ – the classics, the soul, the b-boy stuff, up-tempo jams, even the dark stuff,” he explains. “On the other hand, it’s about me trying to expand my boundaries, trying to shift my own gears. I get off on DJing the stuff other people aren’t, and the ‘mash-up’ thing is being done to death now. So this record is about me moving on.”
No doubt, the crowd will follow.
Shifting Gears is in stores now.