“Leaders of the Old School” is an interesting title for DJ Daddy Dog’s latest mixtape, but not because it appropriately describes the content found within. Instead reading the word “leader” on an old school mixtape just reminds me how the world of mixtape DJs lacks any true leaders. I’m not calling Daddy Dog a copy cat by any means, as both his previous tapes and those by fellow 5th Platoon members show that the crew has a true love for music of the past, whether it be hip-hop or soul. But outside a few DJs who do their own thing, most mixtape DJs just jump on the latest trend. Old school tapes seem to be this year’s hot trend as every DJ has dropped at least one tape full of late 80’s and mid 90’s jams. Because of this old school explosion, Daddy Dog’s mix isn’t as impressive as it would have been a year ago but its still good and a cut above what most DJ’s have to offer.
“Leaders of the Old School” features 34 cuts from hip-hop’s earlier days. What Daddy Dog brings to the mix is his unique blends and most importantly his super-precise mixing skills. You won’t find any annoying sounds used by lazy DJs to mask their lack of mixing skills, instead the mix is built with care and tracks are blended into each other the same way they would be at a party. Though only three blends are included, Daddy Dog’s mixes of “Top Billin,” “You Know I Got Soul,” and “Mona Lisa” keep the track’s original vibe. While Daddy Dog does his job well, with only three blends and mostly behind the scenes mixing the mixtape fails to emit a truly unique identity. Sure you’ll be guaranteed smooth mixes and good overall song selection, but these qualities are those of any good DJ and aren’t enough to give listeners a true feel of what makes Daddy Dog unique. It may seem a bit contradictory to point out Daddy Dog’s impeccable mixing skills and then say the mixtape lacks a unique identity, but “Leaders of the Old School” fails to make Daddy Dog stand out among other DJs. The inclusion of dialogue from the movie “Juice” on “Juice Interlude” is a step in the right direction as was the “I Do Damage” intro, but the tape would benefit from a few more similar interludes to remind listeners of who the man behind the boards is.
As with any old school tapes there will be obvious conflicts when it comes to song selection. For one, I would have liked to see some Public Enemy in the mix as to me they were one of the most relevant groups from that time period. Besides the exclusion of Chuck D and Flavor Flav, the only other major complaint is that the tape is too focused on east coast music. King Tee makes a brief appearance with “At Your Own Risk,” but that’s where the diversity ends. Among those missing are tracks like the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks,” Scarface’s earlier solo work, N.W.A, and the always overlooked D.O.C. Even Philly’s Schoolly D and Fresh Prince should have earned a place somewhere in the mix. Though I wish some of these tracks were included, the quality of music Daddy Dog includes is top notch through and through. From the party rocking “Jinglin’ Baby” and “Saturday” to the lyrical onslaughts of “Live At The BBQ” and “Know The Ledge,” the music included is definitely diverse but could benefit from a more bicoastal approach.
Overall, “Leaders of the Old School” is the tape to buy if you’re looking to fix your itch for hip-hop’s years past. Daddy Dog’s mixing skills are on par with the best and his song selection can only be faulted on a personal level. With that said, in a mixtape world full of DJs who try overshadow the artists, Daddy Dog’s backstage approach is commendable but next time around he might want to add more of a personal touch to his mixes – either conceptually or through more interludes and blends.