10 March, 2003@12:00 am
Hip-Hop and Rock & Roll have had a dysfunctional relationship over the years. It began as a happy marriage with Run DMC and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”, and from time to time would produced memorable moments such as Public Enemy and Anthrax’s “Bring The Noise”, but more often than not travesties such as P. Diddy and Jimmy Page’s “Come With Me”. Even worse, in the late 90′s, we saw the emergence of rap-rock fusion acts made up of people that couldn’t make it in hip-hop, along with suburbanites with backwards baseball caps, as they rapped over power-chord guitars with a DJ behind them.
But while many of these trends seemed to have phased out over the last few years, what’s become increasingly popular with hip-hop DJ’s in urban upscale New York and L.A. club scenes is to spin rock (classic or otherwise), just as they would hip-hop, even inserting hip-hop into the mix. While DJ’s like DJ Z-Trip and DJ Spinbad have been the forerunners of this movement, popping up now on white label vinyl are even rock remixes to popular hip-hop tracks such as 50 Cent over Nine Inch Nails “Closer” or Nas “Made You Look” over Black Sabbath’s “Warpigs”. But this is nothing new, it’s just a new form of sampling, better known as the “mash-up” - taking two well known songs and “mashing” them together into one cohesive piece of music.
While some may argue that sampling is a dead artform in these days of keyboard beats, the latest to explore the world of mash-ups on his new Classic Mixtape Vol. One is DJ Muggs . And who better to do it then a man who innovated sampling in the early 90′s breaking beats for Cypress Hill, House of Pain, and Funkdoobiest? While Cypress Hill may have died along with the freedom to sample without consequence (you can ask Biz), DJ Muggs has leapt back into the world of uncleared samples with his latest mix CD, Classic Mixtape Vol. One.
But it’s not just a series of 18 tracks stuck on a CD, Muggs creates an incredible blunted vibe through the arrangement of each track, even inserting segways to keep things moving along smoothly. Check out the looped snippets of Black Sabbath over Dr. Dre & B-Real’s “Puppet Master” or Heart over Nas’ “Hate Me Now” and you’ll see sampling brilliance in it’s essence - taking a small snippet of music and turning it into a hypnotic loop of something else entirely. Meanwhile, Inspectah Deck’s solo career never sounded better over the brash, bluesy guitars of John Lennon (John Lennon Vs. Inspectah Deck); same can be said for the post H.O.P. rappin’ Everlast catching wreck over Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”. Some of the most incredible concoctions come in the most unlikely team-ups - Ultramagnetic MC’s “Poppa Large” over The Eagles “One Of These Nights” (Eagles Vs. Kool Keith) Snoop Dogg over the Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue”(Rolling Stones Vs. Snoop), or the climax of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Mystery Of Chessboxin’” over Blondie’s “Rapture” (Wu-Tang Vs. Blondie).
However, this isn’t completely flawless, as we’ve heard some of this done in other places - underground heads will notice the Rush sample that’s everyone’s attempted to use but no one could get cleared as Ghostface Killah and Prodigy of Mobb Deep keep it thoro. And “Top Billin’” over The Doors’ “Five To One” is chillin’, but we’ve already heard Jay-Z takeover this sample. KRS-ONE vs. Lenny Kravitz is too slow, not to mention the Lenny sample is outside of the era that the rest of the CD employs. The same can be said for Red Hot Chili Peppers bringing the noise with Public Enemy - we’ve heard Anthrax redo this already, not to mention a million other remixes from Z-Trip, 4Hero, and others.
But despite a few minor mishaps in his mash-ups, this plays like one continuous piece of music, and is an excellent mix CD, surely to be one of the most talked about mixes of the year. And while this kind of thing has been done before (check Z-Trip’s Uneasy Listening), Muggs is definitely in his element here with complete freedom to experiment and create beats just as he could in the early days. But not only that, Muggs creates a truly blunted vibe here that will work as the perfect soundtrack to those nights you are blazed on the couch. Sneak it in and play this for your friends - they’ll wonder if they are really hearing this or are just high out of their minds.
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