It used to be, that DJ-ing meant a two Technics 1210s and a mixer. Not any more. DJ-ing has gone digital. Now controllers and laptops we’re told, are the future of DJ-ing. Controllers like the Novation Twitch and Pioneer DDJ-SX running Serato DJ and Traktor are perceived as the future. To say this divides opinion is an understatement. 

Old school DJs will never agree that digital DJ-ing is the future. The old school DJs main beef with the new breed of synch DJs, are they’re not paying their dues. Rather than learn to beat-match like previous generations of DJs, the new breed of DJs can rely upon the synch button. One press, and as if by magic, the two songs are perfectly beat-matched. That’s okay for house and techno, but forget about any music with a live drummer. For that beat-matching is vital. That’s where old-school DJs come into their own. Another way that old school DJs stand out, is with turntablism.

Ever tried scratching on one of the new DJ controllers? It’s possible, but nowhere near as effective as the old school way, with two turntables and a mixer.Old school is best.  Just ask one of China’s best exponents of turntablism, DJ Wordy. He’s a three times DMC China champion. However, there’s more to DJ Wordy than turntablism. 

Like many DJs, DJ Wordy has moved into production. Along with his production partner Jeff Soulspeak, the pair, as WordySoulspeak, will released their sophomore Let The Rhythm Speak on BBE Music on 7th October 2013. Described as a fusion of innovative and progressive avant-garde Chinese art and “classic boom bap hip hop, electronic, house, funk and soul, Let The Rhythm Speak, is a tantalizing introduction to WordySoulspeak, who’ll tell you about.

DJ Wordy was a trailblazer and pioneer. He was the first Chinese DJ to establish himself on the global DJ stage. Technically, DJ Wordy is one the best DJs in the word. Part of the reason for this, is that he’s aways challenging himself, pushing himself to greater heights. With a style that’s fluid, precise and technically brilliant, it’s no surprise DJ Wordy was crowned DMC China champion three times. Nowadays, DJ Wordy’s heading further afield, and shattering stereotypes in the process.

Anyone whose been fortunate enough to see DJ Wordy live, will realize he loves music. Just look at his sets. Whether it’s London, New York, Berlin or Amsterdam, rather than just sticking to one genre, DJ Wordy flits between musical genres. Seamlessly, he switches between electronic, hip hop house, funk and soul. These sets allow his love of music to shine through. This is what DJ Wordy was doing when he met WordySoulspeakWordySoulspeak,

In 2009, DJ Wordy met Soulspeak, a Los Angeles producer. Soulspeak had fifteen years behind him, so was something of a musical veteran. The pair hit it of, and decided to launch a partnership. 

Described as a composer and master of the Akai MPC, Soulspeak added a new dimension to DJ Wordy’s sets. Live drumming, effects, scratches and synths this took DJ-ing to a new level. Wherever the pair went, their brand of “classic boom bap hip hop” and bass heavy music was winning friends and influencing people. The next step seemed to record their debut album.

Two years after DJ Wordy and Soulspeak met, WordySoulspeak released their eponymous debut album. Experimental, progressive, avant-garde, hip hop and electronica met head on. On the release of WordySoulspeak in 2011, it was released to critical acclaim. This was a turning point for both modern Chinese music and WordySoulspeak.

Since the release of their debut album in 2011, WordySoulspeak have played an important part in the development of Chinese youth culture. He laid the foundations, encouraging and inspiring a new generations of DJs and producers. They looked at WordySoulspeak and realized what was possible. One of the things that was possible, was signing to one of Europe’s top independent labels, BBE Music.

Signing to BBE Music meant that the WordySoulspeak gospel would be spread far and wide. A whole new audience would hear WordySoulspeak’s music. For DJ Wordy, an award-winning DJ and Soulspeak, a veteran producer, this was perfect timing. WordySoulspeak had recorded a new album and Let The Rhythm Speak has just been released on BBE Music. Will Let The Rhythm Speak match WordySoulspeak’s critical acclaimed debut album?

Let The Rhythm Hit opens with the title-track. Stabs of synths reverberate into the distance repeatedly. They introduce a thunderous, house influenced beat, hissing hi-hats and buzzing, bubbling synths. As they reach a crescendo, samples are dropped in. After a dramatic pause, this innovative, genre-sprawling, dance-floor friendly track continues to reveal its secrets. Add to that, futuristic, sci-fi sounds, and this fusion of electronica, house, hip and hooks gets Let The Rhythm Hit to a storming, anthemic start.

Smokeout has a smokey, cinematic sound reminiscent of classic hip hop. Laid-back and languid, a mesmeric mixture of synths, samples, drum beats and piano riffs melt into one. They play their part in the success of this atmospheric, evocative, cinematic track. WordySoulspeak pant pictures, using synths, samples and phat drum beats to create a vintage slice of the smokiest hip hop.

Phat drum beats and samples open Let Me Ride. Then melodic keyboards and washes of synths fill in the spaces left in the arrangement. Synths roll and reverberate into the distance, while WordySoulspeak unleash a whole host of effects on the drums and synths. They transform their sound, replicating what WordySoulspeak do during one of their live shows. In doing this, they breath new life into the music, innovating, while creating something new from something old.

Although High Life is the shortest track on the album, you wish that wasn’t the case.  It has a mellow, understated sound. Meandering, melodically along for less than ninety-seconds, it gives you a tantalizing taste of what might have been. Ethereal and dreamy, it’s one of the highlights of Let The Rhythm Hit.

Shake It Down epitomizes the bass heavy sound of WordySoulspeak. Here, WordySoulspeak get to work with their synths, frantically twisting and turning knobs to transform the sounds they emit. A whole array of beeps, squeaks and bleeps are unleashed as WordySoulspeak create what sounds like the keeper of Acid House’s flame. 

Hope has a thoughtful, melancholy sound. Sounding like a distant relative of seventies soul and funk, deliberate stabs of keyboards are joined by squelchy synths, drums and percussion. The result is a fusion of soulful and sci-fi sounds. Futuristic, avant-garde, pensive and soulful, you can’t fail to fall for the delights of Hope.

From the get-go, Yao Yao Yao has a futuristic, robotic sound. As drums pound furiously, synths squelch, beep and squeak. Musical influences and genres melt into one. Drum ‘n’ bass, experimental,  avante-garde, Acid House, prog rock and electronica can be heard on Yao Yao Yao. There’s also a cinematic sound. You can almost imagine this as the soundtrack to a 21st Century avant-garde performance.  

With WordySoulspeak, you never know what they’re going to do. Constantly, they’re changing direction. This is the case with Hate It Or Love. It’s very different to the previous track. Slow, dubby, but with synths providing a myriad of beeps, squeaks and squelches it has a mesmeric, hypnotic sound. Classic hip hop, dub, Acid House synths, sci-fi sounds and electronica all play their part in this progressive, futuristic, genre melting track.

No Escape bursts into life. Straight away, you’re hooked. WordySoulspeak take you on a dramatic, intergalactic, musical adventure. You’re like a musical time traveler. As the track progresses, musical genres and influences appear out of nowhere. Everything from classical, drum ‘n’ bass, ambient, electronica and prog rock make fleeting appearances. So do a myriad of samples, synths and drum machines. They add to the drama of this intergalactic, genre-melting, space odyssey. 

Roll Like This which closes WordySoulspeak’s sophomore album Let The Rhythm Hit, reminds me of Eminem’s Real Slim Shady. It’s the way that certain instruments are used. These instruments are used to create the riff the track is built around. Just sharp, bursts of synths and drums are all that’s used to create this spacious, atmospheric and somewhat robotic track. Buzzing synths are sprayed throughout this futuristic, edgy sounding track, that shows just how versatile and multitalented WordySoulspeak are.

Earlier, I wondered whether Let The Rhythm Hit, WordySoulspeak’s sophomore album would replicate the critical acclaim of their debut album? To say it has, is an understatement. Let The Rhythm Hit surpasses expectations. Avant-garde, futuristic, genre-melting, progressive and innovative, these are just a few of the words I’d use to describe Let The Rhythm Hit. It’s all that and more. I’d also describe Let The Rhythm Hit as an album full of subtleties and nuances. 

With each listen, something you hear something new. A new subtlety, nuance or layer of music reveals itself with each listen. No matter whether you’ve heard Let The Rhythm Hit ten or one-hundred times, you’ll hear something new. This is similar to the Visioneers’ Hipology. Indeed, both albums are like musical voyages of discovery.

The difference with WordySoulspeak’s Let The Rhythm Hit, is that often, the music is futuristic, sometimes full of robotic, sci-fi sounds. Let The Rhythm Hit then becomes a dramatic, futuristic intergalactic, musical adventure. You take on the mantle of a musical time traveler. As Let The Rhythm Hit progresses, musical genres and influences from the past and present appear out of nowhere. Everything from classical, funk, soul, drum ‘n’ bass, ambient, electronica, house, Acid House and prog rock make fleeting appearances. Each play their part in the overall success of Let The Rhythm Hit.

Best described as an ambitious, avant-garde, innovative, progressive musical melting pot, WordySoulspeak’s Let The Rhythm Hit is one of these albums that, once you’ve heard it, you never forget. Let The Rhythm Hit which will be released on 7th October 2013, is a musical journey full of surprises. Each track is different from the previous one. WordySoulspeak make sure of that. They also ensure that when the lists of the best albums of 2013 are released, WordySoulspeak’s Let The Rhythm Hit, a truly innovative and ambitious genre-sprawling album, will be on it. Standout Tracks: Smokeout, High Life, Hope and No Escape.


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