DJ Vadim, the Russian-born, UK-raised New York resident, has been producing music since the early ‘90s. He was a staple at Ninja Tune for much of his career, and has collaborated with everyone from Paul Weller to Antipop Consortium. On this, his most recent project, he has teamed up with Chicago emcee Pug Atomz and British singer Sabira Jade. They’ve come together to create a sound that harkens back to the hip hop/R&B hybridization that happened in the mid ‘90s.

Vadim has been one of the premier beat makers for years, and he shows no signs of slipping here. While he has covered a wide variety of genres in the past, the majority of this album falls under the umbrella of hip hop or R&B. There’s plenty of layers of synthesizers and full, low bass lines. The drums are crisp and funky, and I’m sure this album will get people out of their seats and dancing. Deejays looking for some new party jams will have plenty to work with on Life is Moving.

Vocally, Atomz and Jade might seem like a random pairing, but they quickly establish a good chemistry, switching back and forth on the mic with ease. It’s the classic singer/rapper formula that was being done to death ten to fifteen years ago, but with Vadim’s production and arrangements, the group never sounds trite or cheesy. My only real complaint with this record is that Atomz and Jade don’t take many chances with their lyrics. The majority of songs on the album concern themselves with partying and romance. To their credit, they never get too ridiculous with it, which is a dark path that many walk down when they start using the singer/rapper formula. Rest assured that there is no “Dilemma” on this album (You know – That wretched Nelly and Kelly Rowland duet we’ve all tried to block out of minds). That said, there’s a few hints of deeper lyrical material, such as the title track. I just wish they would realize the full potential to create songs that make you dance and think. One song I always love to play when I deejay is “My Favorite Mutiny,” by The Coup, knowing that it’s a great song to dance to, but also that if anyone stopped to listen to the lyrics, they’d have plenty to think about. There’s just not a lot of material on Life is Moving that connects to the listener on a deeper level, emotionally of intellectually.

Despite this criticism, Vadim, Jade, and Atomz have a good chemistry, and it comes across on their first album together as a group. It’s fun, it’s got some good hooks, and it’s certainly danceable. I hope they stick with it, because I feel like if they push themselves to reach a higher level, they could drop a record on us that really makes us sit up and take notice. In the mean time, we have a debut album that is plenty entertaining.