Since DJs started spinning records on the radio in the early twentieth century, their presence in the industry has grown beyond just another speaking voice on the airwaves. Fast forward to the early seventies when DJs were less heard and more seen, astounding their audiences by rocking the turntables like a finely tuned instrument and creating the soundtrack for an evolving hip-hop culture. When DJs started adding touring to their work schedule, these now global musical showmen began thrilling crowds with nights of intense ecstasy when they are not manipulating their production magic in the recording studio. DJ pioneers like Fatboy Slim and Little Louie Vega have experienced international success in record sales and stage appearances. Though not quite the household name as the aforementioned, DJ Kemit has built a respectable career with his varied accomplishments throughout two decades.
DJ Kemit aka Kevin Hyman was twelve years old when he was enthralled with the radio broadcasts of Chicago’s soulful, thumping house music scene. Those programs were the blueprint of his soon to be trademark approach that seamlessly embraces other genres. Kemit’s big breakthrough came as a production manager, producer and DJ with Arrested Development, one of urban music’s forward-thinking groups of the nineties. After leaving A.D. in 1996, Kemit has evolved into an in-demand DJ/producer for Prince, Robert Glasper Experiment, Eric Roberson and many others. Kemit’s affinity for soul, house and hip-hop has also afforded him many opportunities to gain an international following with the duo Kemetic Just and has solidified his reputation as one of Atlanta’s hottest club commodities. One of his more recent production calling cards is Anthony David’s “4Evermore,” David’s first #1 Billboard R&B hit.
Everlasting is a notable debut for DJ Kemit, as he is marking twenty years in the industry. In support of his latest endeavor, he reached out to a dependable vocal cast representing house, R&B, hip-hop and jazz. Eric Roberson delivers a suave performance as a man who pitches romance in a quirky way on “Fortune Teller”: “I’m not a fortune teller/I’m just a lucky fellow to have you.” “Releasing” is a self-explanatory rollercoaster relationship as Choklate fully immerses her emotions about the helpless feeling of “no longer being in control.” Jean Baylor’s soothing soprano melts into tight neo-soul vibe with “Never Go Away,” despite a slightly awkward melodic quality. “I Was I Am” is driven by Kemit’s flawless cutting and scratching and Hieroglyphics’ Kev Choice’s salute to the unsung voices of history for a mighty hip-hop generation, from the activists to the creator of the pyramids. Kemit and Frank McComb (delivering on the Fender Rhodes and keys instead of singing here) dig into jazz funk ala Roy Ayers with “Funky 8 Ball.” R&B and arena rock collide on “It Ain’t Over Yet” as N’dambi’s husky alto, assisted by veteran producer Craig Love, flaunts her sassy attitude to a live audience track.
Though Kemit caters to several dance markets, he reserves some room on Everlasting for the house music connoisseurs. The gospel pulsations of “You Don’t Know” features the vivacious Lady Alma Horton and “Spread Love” is flanked by Sepensenahki’s sizzling pipes underneath a delicious funky mix of marimba and guitar.
Despite the few miscues on the Baylor track and Kemit’s disappointing instrumental “Summer Nights,” Everlasting is a much-deserved showcase of DJ Kemit’s assorted musical landscapes each evoking crisp, colorful and swift grooves. Kemit sure knows how to host and throw down a party befitting his twenty years in celebrating dance music bliss. Recommended.
By Peggy Oliver