Of the dynamic new international breed, England-by-way-of-Russia's DJ Vadim is at the top of the heap, having dropped one of the best hip-hop albums in the world, last year's U.S.S.R.: The Art of Listening (Ninja Tune). Although Vadim's initial mid-'90s releases pegged him as an abstract, pomo turntablist, The Art of Listening features numerous skilled rappers fleshing out his tapestries of exotic instruments and clever beats. The result is intricate, inventive, and accessible, and embodies everything that's ever been great about hip-hop. Same goes for Vadim's live show -- though he can certainly wow a crowd with his turntable prowess, it's less about scratch-a-thons than it is about one world under a bad-ass groove.
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