hitek.jpgProducers moonlighting as rappers are nothing new. So it came as no surprise when Hi-Tek released his critically acclaimed debut, Hi-Teknology, in 2001. Supported by a capable squadron of MCs and singers, the Cincinnati beatsmith reserved his mic time to a sole track and opted to let the beats speak for him. However, for his follow-up disc, Hi-Teknology 2, Tek takes a slightly more lyrical role, and does like another Midwest producer/rapper and makes good music.

Sticking to his previous blueprint, Tek gathers an array of artists to groove to his melodic, head-snapping rhythms. Q-Tip lends his vocals to the soothing “Keep Me Dancing,” while Bun B keeps it trill on the introspective “So Tired.” Then Talib Kweli, Raekwon, Papoose and Jadakiss converge on the Big Apple posse cut “NY, NY,” where Kiss steals the show with potent bars like, “Got a lot of heart/Best part is I’m clever, too/Hand skills, hard work, gunplay/Whatever, duke.”

Keeping it in the family, Tek also enlists the talents of his parents, who appear in the form of the Willie Cottrell Band. Papa Tek’s soulful wails power both the hypnotic “People Going Down” and the funk ballad “Josephine.” On the latter, a reflective Ghostface describes a woman whose life is destroyed by drugs (“The monkey on her back is now a gorilla/Fiending for a hit, knowing one day it’s gonna kill her”).

The only mood killer here is the plodding “March,” which features run-of-the-mill machismo from Busta Rhymes. And while Tekzilla may not be the most noteworthy lyricist, he shows flashes of a promising pen game as he holds his own alongside Nas on the flute-drenched “Muzik for Life,” and the haunting “The Chip” finds him proclaiming, “Single-handedly carried the Natti on my back, and I ain’t even that big/Little nigga got it done/I ain’t even talk about bustin’ no gun.” Even still, Tek manages to arm himself with a full clip.—SEAN A. MALCOLM
86cover.jpgRead the rest of XXL’s Critical Beatdown review section in the
November 2006 issue (#86)