- DJ Krush
As mainstream and accessible as 1995's Meiso, Zen succeeds in balancing Krush's sluggish, smokehouse translation of hip-hop with a host of worldly collaborators. Equipped with such forward-thinking hip-hop wordsmiths as the Roots' Black Thought and soul singers like Zap Mama, Krush roams over hip-hop landscapes, weaving in jazz and Asian samples while giving each vocalist free range to explore alternately sinister and vestal surroundings.
Other musical philosophies explored on Zen encompass instrumental mergers between Krush and the likes of African drummer Tunde Ayanyemi and, most notably, Japanese trumpeter Kazufumi Kodama. Krush partners with the latter on "Day's End," where he actualizes his formula for variety and sound by playing an ambling Tony Williams to Kodama's pensive Miles Davis. With nearly a dozen such collaborations on his latest, Krush has seemingly lost his sense of "I" on Zen, abandoning his ego at a time when it should never be bigger.