Automatic Weapon

Dan The Automator Presents 2K7 (Decon)

Bay Area studio wizard Dan Nakamura (aka Dan The Automator) is best known for his whimsical work with two of hip hop's underrated geniuses: Prince Paul (as Handsome Boy Modeling School) and Kool Keith (on his Dr. Octagon project). 2K7 offers the producer a new challenge, working with top rappers from every region for a soundtrack to a basketball-themed videogame. From New Yorkers Fabolous and Ghostface to Chi-Town's Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest to Los Angeles' Aceyalone and Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5), there's plenty of flavor to digest here, but Automator's skill set keeps the project from getting too wildly eclectic.

Throughout 2K7, the kingpin gives his MCs new possibilities. That's especially true with “I Love This Game,” a sparse anthem built on rock guitars that brings a new magnificence to the laid-back Houston rapper Slim Thug. The Automator also knows when to keep a sound more familiar, as with the cut-and-paste backdrop he creates for Oakland's Hieroglyphics on “Don't Hate the Player.” The slam dunk on this comp belongs to Vallejo's E-40 and S.F.'s San Quinn, though, who perform a rare collaboration on “Baller Blockin'.” Automator can produce anyone, but it sounds especially sweet when he's playing on the home court. — Tamara Palmer

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