State of the Art

Who is to say that all the good hip-hop coming out of California these days is from the Bay Area? Presto, a Texas-born, L.A. area-based neo-jazz/soul producer and hip-hop beat maker proves otherwise with his underground hip-hop star-studded new LP. State of the Art is a pleasantly surprising blend of buttery jazz melodies looped over consistently straightforward drums reminiscent of a young Pete Rock. Presto takes cues from beat-composers that came before him, like Large Professor and DJ Premier, keeping simplistic production captivating and crisp. And when it comes to guest emcees, this album is the 2008 how-to guide to lacing dope beats with legendary lyricists—Sadat X (of Brand Nubian), CL Smooth, Fatlip (of Pharcyde), O.C. (of D.I.T.C.) to name a few. In addition to the notables, some less familiar faces like Blu, Wayward Saints and Raashan Ahmad of Oakland’s Crown City Rockers contribute to the album, too. Presto’s latest release could easily be called a West Coast hip-hop album, possibly an East Coast hip-hop album, and maybe even squeeze into “compilation of the year” conversations. Culver City, where you at!?