Album Review — Jahta Beat: The Lotus Memoirs by DJ Drez
It is set for release tomorrow, April 17, 2012, on Black Swan Sounds, the super-fresh subsidiary of Boulder-based White Swan Records.
The brilliance of Lotus Memoirs, which logs in generously at nearly an hour and twenty minutes, is that it is infectious and groovy while also elevating consciousness through the incorporation of mantra on many tracks. The blatant yogic (and even devotional) tint doesn’t compromise Drez’ musical pedigree but clearly shows his personal evolution as a seeker and sound pioneer while still honoring his roots…
Make no mistake; the album could get bona fide street credibility in the underground LA hip hop scene where Drez cut his teeth, while also pleasing his Rasta brethren and pure Krishna devotees alike. Drez isn’t straddling worlds. Jahta Beat is his world – and he seamlessly and intelligently incorporates all aspects of his mystical path and musical tastes – and we are privileged to listen in on it…
Jahta Beat: The Lotus Memoirs is a cohesive and coherent whole… DJ Drez has put together a stellar offering that is an amalgamation of downtempo, hip hop, dub, Indian instrumentation and mantra, and even jazz that can simply and only be called Jahta Beat.
From the dance hall to the yoga hall to the hall of fame, Drez has upped the ante as a true Stateside Sadhu, staying true to his roots while acknowledging and honoring where his mystic and musical path have taken him.
This album is as versatile as it is diverse, providing ideal accompaniment to the ebb and flow of an asana session, soothing inspiration when behind the wheel, or even elegant ambiance for a roof-top dinner party. Indeed, I’ve been carrying this CD around with me, playing it for friends who are already enmeshed in yoga practice, and showing it off to those who didn’t yet know how funky mantra can be.
For someone like me, who is equally liable to be found at a kirtan session, Phish show or EDM event, Jahta Beat seems specifically tailored to my musical sensibilities. Here, the sacred is seamlessly integrated into the playful and modern, making my head nod to the beat and evoking passionate devotional singing-along to tracks like “Guru Mantra” or “Krishna’s Dub.”
One (of many) stand-out tracks is “For What It’s Worth India Dub.’” The vastly multi-talented Joey Lugassy is featured on this interpretation of the Buffalo Springfield classic. His harmonium and vocals describe a deep longing, both uplifting and melancholy. Pure magic.
I have been lucky enough to experience Dr.EZ live in-person on a number of occasions, both on and off the mat, and I must gently insist that the opportunity is not to be passed up.
As live asana-accompaniment, Drez attunes to the flow of instructor and class, deftly picking you up and placing you down in complete appropriateness. In a concert setting, he tends to let the bass drop and the tabla’s pop, offering truly infectious grooves guaranteed to stimulate the dance party within.
DJ Drez will be spinning this weekend at Tadasana Festival in Santa Monica, California. On Friday, April 20th, he’ll accompany the dynamic duo of MC Yogi and Amanda Giacomini for a “special workshop that includes a strong asana class combined with stories, philosophy, poetry, music and art.”
(Note: elephant editor-in-chief Waylon Lewis and his Walk the Talk Show will also be at Tadasana Festival. Hooray!)
You can also catch Drez at the Boulder Theatre on Saturday, June 9, 2012, as part of the headlining musical event hosted by White Swan at the fabulous Hanuman Festival.
His full schedule of events can be seen here.
Bonus!! Check out “Music a mix by Dj Drez” This mix is “an exploration through many genres retouched to introduce the listener to a new perspective on pieces they may know and gain interest on those they don’t.” This has been on repeat in my car for months now. It’s not getting old.
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger