No, your new Prefuse 73 CD is not skipping. It's just the wizard of schizophrenic enterprise, Scott Herren (who also records as Delarosa & Asora, Savath & Savalas, Piano Overlord, and La Coreccion), flashing his mixing skills. On Prefuse's latest, Surrounded by Silence, Herren scratches and knob-twiddles his way through a back catalog of beats, vocals, and samples, citing more sources than a doctoral dissertation. This time, he also features a laundry list of contemporaries, sidling up next to Aesop Rock, Beans, Broadcast, the Books, Kazu from Blonde Redhead, and more. Their presence is recognizable, in a Cuisinarted-and-sutured-back-together kinda way. With rhyme masters El-P and Ghostface in the limelight, "HideYaFace" is the best hip-hop single released in at least a year, and Masta Killa and GZA's "Just the Thought" follows close behind. Prefuse's friendly alliance of hip-hop with everything else is innovative and addictive. Herren's thoughtful splicing of encyclopedic influences into his own vision makes him one of the most talented, forward-thinking artists around.