No offense to Krush, who is undoubtedly the best hip-hop artist to emerge from Japan and has created some of the best hip-hop-influenced down-tempo in the genre’s past two decades, but he is hardly the kind of artist most people think of when best-ofs are brought up. Apart from the fact that he is a producer, a good portion of his work purposefully developed in the context of its surroundings.
With that in mind, it would have been good to see these songs mixed together into a full experience, and the two-disc treatment is understandable (one half is vocal, the other instrumental) but unnecessary: Stepping Stones would have been stronger at half the length and if it were fully integrated. As it is, Krush deserves credit for not simply repackaging the material but remixing it and offering different versions of every song. That said, none of the tracks particularly stand out, despite high-profile appearances by Shadow, Aesop Rock and C.L. Smooth. Stepping Stones doesn’t come close to his best work, including 1996’s Meiso, 1999’s Kakusei and 2001’s Zen.