DJ Vadim | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


From the title of his new album, U.S.S.R.: Life From the Other Side (Ninja Tune), and its faux Russian constructivist artwork, DJ Vadim might seem to be a poster child for the global reach of hip-hop--but though he was born in Russia, he's lived in London since he was three. Just the same, the turntablist's earlier work did speak the international language, sticking primarily to abstract and wiggy instrumental workouts. This time out, he's attempting to reach larger audiences by inviting a raft of terrific American and British MCs to roost on his beats. El-P and BMS from Brooklyn's Company Flow pump things up on "Viagra" with rapid-fire rhyme swapping disciplined by a stern, sampled "next!" and for "English Breakfast" Toronto's Swollen Members weave their sinister flow through Vadim's weighty scratches. And on "Your Revolution," New York hip-hop poet Sarah Jones lobs a lyrical grenade over a spare, ominous track, taking issue with the conspicuous consumption, misogyny, and casual violence that hip-hop has brought along on its ride to international prominence: "Your revolution will not be me tossing my weave and making believe I'm some caviar-eating ghetto Mafia clown / Or me giving up my behind just so I can get signed and maybe have somebody else write my rhymes," she spits. "I'm Sarah Jones, not Foxy Brown." Vadim does include some instrumental material, tooling with Russian language instruction records (a la Cut Chemist's "Lesson" series) and slicing some of his samplescapes with the occasional daredevil scratch, but he's rarely just showing off. For this gig he'll be joined by Mr. Thing of the Scratch Perverts, rapper Blu Rum 13, and human beatbox Killer Kela, all of whom also appear on the album. Monday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Martin Holtkamp.

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