Time Machine

Slow Your Roll

(Glow in the Dark; 2004)

By Chet Betz | 8 November 2007

18 Time Machine Moments That Transmogrified My Mind

As the clock tick begins on the first track of Time Machine’s debut LP, and the hip-hop flux capacitor flares to life, as emcees Jaysonic and Comel bump back to the future like Big Shots with golden age charizma still sticking to their lip smacks, peanut butter on DJ Mekalek while he waits to leave fiery skid marks with spinning black wax wheels.

When auxiliary producer Stoerok taps the brakes to send a piano sample near the end of “A Million and One Things to Do” falling all over itself, the cymbals still pattering, then the drums piston back with a one-two-kick, and guest DJ Pre of Babbletron steers the vinyl on a needle blunted.

And a blitzed Jaysonic’s spitting the title of the next track: “Let’s not be real/ Like hair grown from Rogaine with monoxodil/ Head’s up, it’s a toxic spill/ You gotsta chill/ Let’s not be real cuz counterfeit is cheaper/ Like buying gear at the same spot you got your beeper/ Let’s not be real cuz everyone likes big breasts/ And you’re getting less attention with A-cups on your chest.”

While Jay tries out his Superman stare on the work blouse of his “Reststop Sweetheart,” and Stoerok’s driving the chugging truck beat through a halcyon blur of pastoral gazer beauty to come to the break that rattles with another engine’s percussion.

So Jaysonic and Comel have arrived at the “Spelling Bee,” and the two trade lines eagerly in a final stretch more affable than obsessive kids dissecting duplicitous diphthongs: “You can’t spell MARRIOT without RIOT/ A hundred bucks for room service? Comel won’t be quiet/ And you can’t spell FUNERAL without FUN, hope you had a good time cuz now your life is done.”

At the moment that DJ Mekalek’s reference-defying, blasting beat for “Mind in a Spin” gives way to its hook, revealing itself to be a red-blooded reinvention of reggae that sweats gasoline and pisses acid on Sean Paul’s dancehall (Edo. G nods approval).

After that tired shit gets razed and laid waste, and “The Assembly Line” instrumental throws in playful horn calls over conveyor belts and bronze gears and becomes the amusingly perfect soundtrack to the factory scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

When the hard work pays off with a flawless gem of a song, Stoerok gracing thick drums with the most melting of horn lines to answer the hook, “Who needs a mic?/ Nobody’s listening but us when we bust/ It’s just a rhyme/ In time we trust,” and DJ Mekalek scratches the hell out of Slick Rick until that scratching reaches from speakers through air to cut all tension out of back tendons.

Now that heads are ready for dates, and the emcees ask the “Personal Ads” patrons what they’re looking for so that the birds chirp, “I’m looking for Mr. Right!” and the dogs bark, “A chick to get with tonight!”

On to the sweetening of the evening as “The Mekster” teaches Technics to swoon under his touch, charming out a cool concluding coo of percussion on the submissive tip that he then finger fucks, skill’s rapier scaling like radar.

Scanning the scene, heads with sets glued to their ears need to check how Jaysonic climbs his cadence to flow the line “The habit of practice establish the havoc and magic that happens from passionate rapping” on “Stoerokinit.”

Just like Pete Rock needs to hear the horn loop spark on Jaysonic’s own “Night Lights” beat as Comel’s verse jumps right into the warm groove, “Good looking out, Dun, yo, that record is the right one/ Who's feeling good? I am, I think tonight’s the right one/ Then let me start my argument on how the night's young/ Everybody out? Naw, son, it's just starting/ Yo, Dun, light one, come on, there's 3 hours left/ Yo, turn the lights back on, I still want to represent/ Yo, put the beats back on, well, only if it’s fresh/ The crowd’s still dwindling, I guess I lost my argument.”

That feeling when the party’s dead, its remainders marinating and meditating, Mekalek finding the bites that speak sooth to the context of a dirty dawn and “A Cold Day in Hell,” a lost '80s pop-blues croon met by dialogue from Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels.

Then Mekalek’s “Water In Your Cereal” instrumental razor splicing chimes and easy listening jazz into nodding hip-hop with Madlib flair, the clinching touch a punctuation mark of distortion that’s the needed nick to waken the still sleepy face and sully the too smooth shave.

Edan’s “@$$hole” dew-dusting, dam-busting bass alarming the neighbors out of their beds and bathtubs, Comel rapping “I pray you make it home safe/ Not in a ditch having dreams/ But there's a ten percent chance/ You make it there in one piece,” right before the organ pipes in and signals that, yeah, this track starts the kick-ass Sunday morning mix.

On “Especially4U,” when Jaysonic flows, “I’m still growing up, and I don’t see it slowing up anytime soon/ How could I act like I know enough?/ I’ve come such a long way from my younger days/ And hunger hurts so much, but I’m starting to feel like hunger pays off/ My skin doesn’t feel as soft as it once did…”

Or when Comel is “Thinking About You” and says that “I loved it how you did your thing on top of me/ That's why you had all the property in monopoly/ Was finally ready to add you to my glossary/ But a moment in time is all it’s got to be/ With a moment in thought only my eyes see…”

In the passing of the final track with its hook sample muffled into verse melody, Mekalek taking and replaying “I’m leaving” like the great deejays do, Comel and Jaysonic stepping out with their goof and their gravity, their clever sincerity, when all these moments and countless others vanish in the Time Machine’s shift from present to past, and the clock tick fades.

You can’t stop temporality, but you can Slow Your Roll.