Many people in hip hop seem to have lost sight of the importance that house and dance music played in the early development of the genre. DJ’s would frequently jock a house beat, chop it up into a break, and subsequently let the MC flow over it. It was arguably hip hop’s entry route into the mainstream. Somewhere along the line (I’m guessing the backlash against MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice that gave birth to the second Golden Age of hip hop in 1994) house lost contact with rap – probably because rap held a gun to the head of dance music and suggested it make a move. As gangster rap became more prevalent, BPM’s of 120 and upward simply didn’t fit in to the new more serious sound. This isn’t true in the UK, of course, where Garage and Grime have provided excellent backdrops for MC’s to flow over.
In the last couple of years, however, house music has hit hip hop and R&B with a vengeance. Producers such as Timbaland and Stargate (the Swedish super-producers) have ushered 115-130bpm music back into fashion – think Rihanna, Ne-Yo and Chris Brown, as well as anyone that Mr Mosley has worked with. Even Miami Beat has reared its head once more, with T-Pain killing it with “Low.” So perhaps this is the ideal time for a lively and pleasing compilation from the Delicious Vinyl All-Stars, courtesy of chief curator Rick Ross.
Hold up… WTF? Rick Ross? As in, Rick “The Boss” Rawwwss? I honestly can’t say for sure but that is what appears to be the case (in the liner notes and attached blurb). Bizarre fruit… Plus, Ross has, with the assistance of Peaches, put together a collective of primetime players to remix classic hip hop tracks. Check this producer list – Eminem, Hot Chip, Diplo and Peaches to name but a few. The result is pretty awesome, actually – for example, the acid funk Pink Enemy remix of The Brand New Heavies’ “Never Stop” is simply stunning, and Eminem’s remix of “Slaughtahouse” by Masta Ace is different from most of his other production work. Of course, house and dance music don’t have to be fast-paced, as these two examples prove – but opener “Freak-A-Zoid Robotz” pays tribute to Afrika Bambataaa in pulse-quickening fashion.
In fact, the album is technically only ten tracks long, as the last five tracks are instrumental versions of some of the remixes. The compilation can definitely be considered a success, even if the two Pharcyde records are only modestly remixed, not reinvented. This is good fun, particularly for the summer. And forgive me if I cut this review short, but I must lie down and recover from the fact that Rick Ross was the “Curator” of this album. He could do worse than hire some of the producers for his next project.