Review: Hi-Tek

(Rawkus Records)

He was the man behind the boards for much of Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s well-received “Black Star” album, and he combined with Kweli on the 2000 favorite “Reflection Eternal”.  On the verge of becoming one of hip-hop’s elite beat masters, Cincinnati producer Hi-Tek has dropped his own compilation album, which features superstar MC’s such as Common, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli as well as lesser-knowns like  Donte and Main Flow from Cincinnati’s MOOD.  “Hi-Teknology” is excellent in places; on “Breakin’ Bread,” Donte, Main Flow, Brian Digby, Jr., and Crunch shine over a distinctive horn loop, and Common and Vinia Mojica are outstanding on the mellow but powerful track “The Sun God.”  The catchiest beat on the album, though, is the hypnotic one that Tek saves for himself to rap over on the title track.  It’ll have you nodding your head and saying his name over and over.  In the end what hurts “Hi-Teknology” is not its unexpected foray into R&B (“Round & Round” with Jonell and the groovy “Get Ta Steppin’” with Mos Def and Vinia Mojica”), but the fact that Tek sometimes plain overmatches the MC’s who rhyme to his beats, especially on “Where I’m From” with Jinx Da Juvy and “L.T.A.H.” featuring Slum Village.  These sub-par tracks leave Hi-Tek with an album that sounds great but falls short of classic status.