As one of the X-Ecutioners, Rob Swift made a play for breakthrough crossover success with Built From Scratch, an overloaded album which had the group playing second fiddle to everyone from Tom Tom Club to the rap-rock meatheads in Linkin Park. The disc introduced mainstream fans to the joys of turntablism, albeit in a form designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Scratch's commercial success must have satiated Swift's need for popular acceptance, because there's not a hint of commercial calculation to be found on Sound Event, the DJ's stellar third solo album. Like Built From Scratch, the disc boasts a sizable roster of guest artists, but the cameos seem to have been chosen for artistic rather than commercial reasons. From heavily sampled jazz musician Bob James to underground hip-hop king J-Live, every guest on Sound Event contributes something vital, from human beatbox Kenny Muhammed's uncanny replication of early-'80s electro-cheese to Large Professor's old-school braggadocio. Virtuosos like Swift long ago established the legitimacy of the turntable as a proper instrument, but on Sound Event, he makes a terrific case for the DJ as not only a musician, but also a songwriter, comic, composer, and social critic. Like kindred spirits Prince Paul and Dan The Automator, Swift assembles funny, melancholy, evocative sound collages, stitched together from forgotten TV shows, stand-up routines, old-school sound bites, and political speeches. A current of Afro-centric consciousness runs through Sound Event, not just on MC tracks like "Interview With Colored Man" and "The Program," but also on the instrumental "The Ghetto," a vivid, impressionistic depiction of urban toil and trouble. Built From Scratch introduced turntablism to a wide audience, but Sound Event proves to be fun and accessible without pandering to its whims.

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