DJ Yoda, Chop Suey

Stevie Chick

By Stevie Chick

on 11.07.12 in Reviews

London turntablist DJ Yoda’s career thus far has been an exercise in banishing hip-hop’s more po-faced impulses in favor of a hit-and-run, cut-and paste approach. As his name suggests, he’s not above weaving crowd-pleasing pop-cultural references into the mix, even at the risk of sounding gimmicky: his compilations have included 2009′s How To Cut & Paste: Country Edition, which dropped Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and the theme from TV’s The Littlest Hobo alongside Nas and Treacherous Three.

50 minutes of solid thrills

But when it comes to turntable chops and scratching – not to mention deep knowledge of the hip-hop form – Yoda is among the best. He plays it relatively straight on his second album proper, abandoning the kids’-TV themes and comedy samples but keeping a lunatic, scattershot approach and a mood of playful, unabashed vibrancy. The swollen-ego stomp of “Charlie Sheen,” voiced by rapper Greg Nice, evokes the fallen star’s coked-up mania with its swaggering, muscular beats, tempo-changing dashes and Nice’s bellow of “Don’t tell me how to spend my motherfuckin’ money.” The deluge of Eastern samples and licks on “Big Trouble In Little China,” meanwhile, treads a fine line between exoticism and Orientalism.

Yoda’s gonzo approach yields some real triumphs, not least on “Happy,” a bittersweet two-step ballad sung by Boy George that reminds you that beneath the make-up, George Dowd possesses a deeply soulful croon – older and smokier than in his Culture Club heyday, but more affecting because of it. Better still is “U No Likey That,” which throws Roots Manuva and Kid Creole & The Coconuts in a studio together and turns out a rattling carnival rumble.

Coherency would be a long-shot, given the avalanche of guests and styles, but the grab-bag of inspired tracks still deliver 50 minutes of solid thrills. By tempering his inclination to play cute, Yoda proves himself a producer with a keen, inventive ear.