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BOOGIROOT (2005)
BoogiRoot - Click to view! DJ Maj has a problem.

"Yeah, I'm a spinner, but enough already," he states on "Up All Nite," an exceptional track from his recent album BoogiRoot. "See, my people keep forgetting that I don't do weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs or Christmas."

He's beyond that, you see. When you're sharing tracks with holy hip-hop royalty like manCHILD (mars ILL), L.A. Symph and tobyMac, you don't do gigs folks would otherwise hire a clown or Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler's character in The Wedding Singer) for.

Oh, and apparently some of you have been getting his name wrong. It's Maj, he stresses in the very next line. "Please get it right, mister."

As Pac said, "Life as a celebrity is less than heavenly."

But as you peruse BoogiRoot, Maj's latest offering, you understand how demeaning an offer to spin the soundtrack at some kid's Sweet 16 could be for the guy. Sharlok's self-aggrandizing words on the aforementioned track apply to Maj as well: believe the hype. He's nice.

BoogiRoot kicks off with a campy intro (erstwhile dc Talk member Michael Tait warns listeners that the album is "rated 'R' for 'religious'") but progresses shortly to the infectious cut "Uappeal," and Tait makes up for his pun two tracks later, lending his vocals to "H.A.N.D.S.," one of the album's better songs.

The next two tracks ("Let's Go" and "Lil Sump Interlude") are skip-worthy, and The Black Eyed Peas should probably sue over the "Love (So Beautiful)" (the bite is one of Tysonic proportions). But it's a very pleasant-sounding sort of plagiarism, and you'll probably listen to it regularly.

tMac makes a strong contribution to "Can't Take It Away," though Maj does most of the rapping on a track devoted to the assertion that faith, joy and peace are irrevocable. "Soul Window" follows, but lacks the punch of other, livelier offerings and might put you to sleep.

"Up All Nite," ironically enough, is the next full length song to crop up, and as stated is well worth a listen. Sharlok's raspy, distinctive word instrument shames those of many emcees but Maj holds his own, and this is definitely a track you'll want to get from iTunes.

"Ballin' Chains" is next, featuring an anti-materialist message that upstages the song's production, but the question Maj poses is an important one, regardless of your station in life: "do you got it [the stuff you own], or do it got you?"

Substance and style unite in equal parts with "Through the Night," however. An emotionally affecting tune featuring guest emcee KJ-52, "TtN" is both an admission of Maj's heavy-heartedness and an assertion that through prayer God will see them through literal (and perhaps figurative) darkness to another day.

"Gotta Go Now" closes the set on a syrupy but extremely positive note, as crooner Liquid helps draft an apologetic love note to Maj's significant other. Sings Liquid, "Baby, I know that you're tired of me leaving town on you / Wishing that I didn't have to go do the things I do... but I've gotta go now." Maj's raps drive the message home as he expresses regret for having to live the life of a traveling musician and leave the woman he loves behind.

The final track is a microcosm of the rest of the album in that it loses appeal the more you listen to it, but BoogiRoot isn't without a few morsels that have staying power. You probably won't be disappointed if you shell out for the CD, but it's understandable if you'd rather download the highlights. Tracks four, seven, eleven and fourteen are the ones you'll want.

Pop some BoogiRoot in your stereo and play that at your kid's party, mmkay?
- Ben Forrest
January 2005
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