Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Cut Chemist, former DJ of Jurassic 5, to headline Pearl Street Ballroom this Wednesday

Cut Chemist is one of the most important DJs to have ever graced the turntable

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(Cut Chemist/ Facebook Page)

(Cut Chemist/ Facebook Page)

(Cut Chemist/ Facebook Page)

By William Plotnick, Collegian Staff

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For lovers of underground hip hop, Western Massachusetts is a surprisingly exciting place to live. Any student attending the University of Massachusetts throughout the past four years can attest to this, as acts such as GZA (of the Wu-Tang Clan), Aesop Rock, Wax Tailor, HEEMS, Homeboy Sandman and Jon Wayne have come to various venues throughout the Pioneer Valley to grace fans with beautiful beats and rhymes.

The local hip-hop culture will continue bearing fruit this upcoming Wednesday, April 25, as American DJ Cut Chemist, former member of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli and producer of two excellent solo records, brings his act to Pearl Street Ballroom at 8:30 p.m. Attendees can be sure that it will be a night filled with DJ wizardry and guest rappers!

Cut Chemist is widely considered to be one of the most important DJs to come out of a vibrant, influential and experimental time period of hip-hop production that began in the early 1990s and continued the mid-2000s. Along with producers such as DJ Nu-Mark, Exile, DJ Shadow, RJD2 and Prince Paul, Cut Chemist made his mark on the hip-hop industry with quirky rhythms and sample-based production. He would assemble his production talents with DJ Nu-Mark to form the hip-hop group Jurassic 5 with rappers Chali 2na, Akil, Soup and Marc 7 in 1993. He would then go on to produce three records with that group, helping to create their position as one of the most popular and talented acts in hip-hop for years.

Today, Cut Chemist is mostly focusing on his solo career. So far, he has brought to fruition two excellent studio records, the 2006 “The Audience’s Listening” and his most recent record, the 2018 “Die Cut.” “The Audience’s Listening” created sparks in the hip-hop world when it came out, as it revealed a new side of Cut Chemist’s production talents: making great music to dance to. The debut LP took the DJ close to two years to complete, one year to record and another to clear each and every sample. The result is a classic hip-hop oriented dance record, that in 2015 Vice would name the 49th greatest dance album of all time.

Cut Chemist followed that record up with his 2018 effort “Die Cut,” which features acts such as Chali 2Na, Deantoni Parks (The Mars Volta), Biz Markie, actress Erika Christensen (Parenthood), tune-yards, Farmer Dave Scher and Dexter Story. The new album continues Chemist’s streak of music that one can’t help but dance to, with tracks such as “Work My Mind” (featuring Chali 2na & Hymnal) and “Metalstorm” (featuring Edan & Mr. Lif). There are also songs on the record that take on a more old-school approach, reminiscent of Cut Chemist’s work with Jurassic 5, such as “Moonlightin’ with Biz” featuring Biz Markie.

This new record makes it abundantly clear that Cut Chemist is a jack-of-all-trades DJ, working in complete comfort with varying sounds, and making sure to take his samples from the craziest of places.

This upcoming Wednesday, students within the Pioneer Valley will have the choice to either attend a Cardi B concert or head out to Northampton to see Cut Chemist. While it’s tough to convince someone to look past Cardi B, one of hip-hop’s most exciting female acts, I would argue that Cut Chemist’s show is an opportunity for lovers of rap and hip-hop to experience one of the most important DJs to have ever graced the turntable. For the hip-hop culture within Western Massachusetts to remain rich, people need to be willing to take risks in the type of hip-hop they listen to. Coming out to see Cut Chemist will make sure that we keep moving forward in the right direction.

William Plotnick can be reached at [email protected]

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