Renowned for being the DJ and producer for LA underground hip hop group Jurassic 5, Cut Chemist is also known for his turntablist techniques, intelligent production and crafty beatsmanship. Before releasing music with Jurassic 5 he was doing his own thing on the LA turntablist scene and managed to concoct a live turntablist session with DJ Shortkut at the Future Primitive in the late 90's. Today he still known for his turntablist skills with underground releases like Brainfreeze and Product Placement with DJ Shadow - both a mish mash of old skool 70's funk, hip hop, story telling records and TV commercials. Now Cut Chemist does it on his own for The Litmus Test where he takes the tunes he's known for producing (a majority of them being J5 tracks) and cuts and scratches them up as only Cut Chemist knows how.
While the tracklisting isn't revealed at all on the album, Jurassic 5 fans would easily recognise the tunes including the flute line from their 97 classic Jayou. Contact from their groundbreaking debut album Quality Control (and in my opinion their best so far) gets remixed and rescratched here with the "Contact" sample replaced with "React". It's quite easy to make out what J5 tunes get used, if not recognisable by the beat, he even includes snippets of the MC's vocals in there too, which takes away all the guess work - no points awarded for guessing that Nelly Furtado sings in The Thin Line either!
The hip hop beats turn into uptempo swing time when Cut drops in Swingset which then leads into SNT which Cut had produced alongside multitalented guitarist, bassplayer, cellist Miles Tacket and had originally appeared on The Funky Precedent Vol.1 - a hip hop album which was released to keep music in Los Angeles Unified School District schools.
It's not all J5 and Cut Chemist though, Cut even does a live turntablist remix of Ugly Duckling's Eye On The Gold Chain - as if the original and remixes weren't awesome enough, Cut Chemist had put his take on Ugly Duckling's tribute to "the rope that the Einstein wears".
All in all, The Litmus Test is a wicked mash up of Cut Chemist's own productions. It's definitely missing a few gems in my opinion including the hard to find Unified Rebelution (Jurassic 5's first track after they joined forces from Unity Committee and the Rebels of Rhythm) and what is a Cut Chemist suite without the classic party hip hop track Cut Chemist Suite by Ozomatli? Turntablist fans will love the skills on this album and Jurassic 5 fans will love it how he all melds it together (I for one am in awe of his skills), but for those who've heard it all before may want to hunt down the Brainfreeze and Product Placement mixes he did with DJ Shadow.