Jahta Beat: Chanting with Tigers
1. Sweet Radha (feat. Kirtaniyas) 04:58
2. The Road pt. 3 (feat. Kirtaniyas) 05:55
3. Vasudeva's Dance (feat. Marti Nikko) 04:06
4. Ma (feat. Arjun Baba) 05:19
5. Nadia (feat. Kirtaniyas) 03:51
6. Pataaka (feat. Kirti Srinavasti) 04:28
7. Sentient Sunshine (feat. Kirtaniyas) 05:16
8. Nandalala (feat. Sheela Bringi) 04:07
9. Maha Dub (feat. Kirtaniyas) 04:35
10. Sweet Krishna (feat. Kirtaniyas) ]04:06
11. Shiva's Gate (feat. Tulsi Devi) 05:04
12. Satya Sutra (feat. Masood Ali Khan) 04:33
13. Sugar Drop 77 05:30
14. Forever For Now (feat. Marti Nikko) 05:57
Jahta Beat: Chanting with Tigers is a revolutionary musical vision and mission statement for beat doctor, Sound Ambassador and Stateside Sadhu, DJ Drez. Breaking ground and blazing trails, Drez has dropped a sonic gem with his latest release that not only ups the ante of West meets East fusion, but that also creates and defines an entire genre of hip, fresh, devotional music that can only be called Jahta.
The brilliance of Chanting with Tigers is a unique sound not of two worlds colliding, but rather the birthing of a brave new world. In this Jahta world, slick beats, dub sensibilities, hip hop know how, electronic wizardry and production techniques to match the best of ‘em, emerge from the anahata nadam (unstruck sound of the universe) as eternal consorts of tabla, mrdangam, sitar, dilruba, harmonium, violin, traditional bhajans and ancient mantras.
Rare indeed, if not completely non-existent until now, is an album that can cultivate and facilitate the groove and the bhav, the enlightened devotional mood and sentiment, simultaneously. It is the markedly devotional tone of Jahta Beat: Chanting With Tigers that makes this offering an evolutionary jump, even from DJ Drez’ prior albums. The underground mixtape “The Beat Generation,” released earlier this year by Drez and fellow Californians, the Kirtaniyas, was a hint at what is in store on the Black Swan Records release.
The Kirtaniyas have a major say in shaping the direction and sound of Chanting With Tigers as well, and members Vijay, Sarasvati and Nitai are three of the “Tigers” that Drez references in the latest Jahta’s title. By “tigers,” Drez is referring to young, ferocious kirtan (call and response chanting) artists and devotional musicians. The Kirtaniyas are featured on “Sentient Shine” and “Maha Dub,” both deep dub journeys to the eternal source, invoking Krishna, the All Attractive One, with the sacred mantras, Shri Krishna Govinda Hare Murare Hey Natha Narayana Vasudeva and Hare Krishna, respectively. Drez’ West Coast-influenced hip hop sound melds seamlessly with Kirtaniyas’ traditional Indian instrumentation and Krishna bhajans (devotional songs) on “Nadia” and “Sweet Krishna.” The former leaves a G-Funk taste of years past on the palate amidst the harmonium, tabla and vocals provided by The Kirtaniyas and saxophone provided by frequent Drez collaborator Dominic Dean Breaux. The latter features bass and Rhodes from another Trae Sevin and a classic Drez beat that invokes “Chronic” era Dr. Dre yet mingles, in a mind blowing way, with the violin, harmonium and song of Vijay and Sarasvati. “Sweet Krishna” is actually the traditional song Madhurastakam, composed by one of the great acharyas of India, Shri Vallabhacharya. Vallabha was a 15th Century saint who is said to have composed this song after having darshan (direct vision) of Krishna at Govardhan Hill, and describes the encounter in this song by describing all of His features as madhuram, or sweet.
Jahta Beat: Chanting With Tigers features many such songs that deliver some of the loftiest, most esoteric and treasured teachings ever given on the sublime subjects of transcendental, divine love and awakening to the greatest of yogas. This bhajan- and Vaishnava (devotee of Vishnu, or the maintaining force of the universe that manifests in forms like Krishna, Rama and Narasimha)-meets-big beats formula continues on standout track “Shiva’s Gate,” featuring another of the tigers, Tulsi Devi. Not only does the bass of this track make headlights bounce in the rearview mirror, dancing in concentric, ecstatic circles, but it also delivers the dharma. The title refers to Shiva as the gate keeper to the sacred Krishna lila (divine pastime) land of Vrindavan and the story of Shiva having to embrace the feminine by putting on a sari to gain entrance to Krishna’s Rasa dance. Drawn by Krishna’s flute, Shiva must become a Gopi (cowherd maiden) to engage in loving exchange with Krishna.
What is rare and wonderful about Chanting with Tigers, and generally determinative of a great album, is that there is no need to fast forward any track. In fact, the record dazzles as a complete whole while each individual track sparkles as a complete whole… Purnamadah Purnamidam one could say. Each successive listen to Dr. EZ’s latest release unveils layers of brilliance that will leave your jaw dropped and have you finding a new favorite track with each spin. “Pataaka” features tiger Kirti Srivastava singing the epic bhajan, Hanuman Chalisa, in a rockin’ electronic anthem with hip hop flare that could easily make this an international classic. Cross boundaries and cross borders, this song could be played in a club in Mumbai or New York City, or at a Wanderlust yoga festival. Like most of the tracks on Jahta Beat: Chanting With Tigers, whether you know what the words mean or not, the music is enthralling and dance-worthy all on its own. The inner meaning makes it all the more delightful.
“Sugar Drop ‘77” is the only track that showcases Drez’ mastery without a guest and is one of only two instrumentals. This is a noticeable shift from Drez albums prior to Jahta Beat: The Lotus Memoirs. This intoxicating song combines classic elements like piano and dilruba with a gritty drum beat, bass line and stepped-up dub whomp that leaves the listener scratching their head in awe, beauty and amazement. “Sugar Drop” appropriately leads into the album’s final cut, “Forever For Now,” featuring the golden-voiced Marti Nikko longingly calling out as lover for the Beloved, “Govinda Krishna Hari Om, Gopala Krishna Hari Om,” over a slightly understated, yet deep beat, a drone and the piano and dilruba carried forward from the prior track.
Whether you’re into electronic music, hip hop, dub, dub step, world music, kirtan, mantra, bhajan, or all of these or none of these, it would be a near impossibility to deny this album heavy rotation on your iPod, phone or CD player. Jahta Beat: Chanting with Tigers, is beyond genre and beyond the material realm. Due to its transcendental subject matter and the mastermind behind it, it is a true offering to the One. Through this devotional gift, the sonic experience of Chanting with Tigers is alchemically transformed into a spiritualized journey to sat chit ananda (truth consciousness and bliss), through bangin’ beats, supremely elevated topics, and many, many tigers.
All glories to the ONE.