SNICKA :: SNICKA Presents Biggie Blendz ::
as reviewed by James Corne

New York based DJ SNICKA has been in the mixtape circuit for almost a decade. But one thing that should be cleared up immediately is "Biggie Blendz" is not a mixtape nor does it feel like a mixtape. It is a blend tape, a now moldy style of musically mixing an artist's lyrics over multi-layered beats. This long forgotten style of DJing has relatively died out by now, drowned in the mixtape tidal wave now flooding the market, because blending requires much more time and attention to pull off properly than simply pasting together whatever is hot with whoever is not.

The biggest difference between a blend tape and a mixtape is that a blend tape holds an air of originality to it. Its artificial of course, almost all the beats are ripped off previous songs. But blend tapes are engineered with such musical precision, in matching lyrics to beats, that the resulting mix sounds congenial. On "Biggie Blendz" the expectant rough juxtaposition frequently found in mixtape match-ups is just not there. Biggie sounds perfectly matched to every track, as if it was his own. His malleable flow molds to each song: "Hypnotize" is cleverly overlaid N.O.R.E.'s "Oye Mi Canto," "Think Big" burns over Llyod Bank's "Warrior," and Fabolous's "Breathe" mixed with "Dead Wrong" is pure fire. The most important thing to realize is that SNICKA is not just plugging overused Biggie verses into prominent radio hits, he is blending lyrics and beats together in a quasi-original format to give each pre-existing song a reinvigorated freshness.

Even marked, radio hits like Lil' Flip's "Sunshine" and Ciara "goodies" get hijacked by B.I.G.'s masterful flow and smooth timing, till you can't even remember who it was stolen from. Only the most blatant, idiosyncratic beats are noticeable, like Juvenile's "Slow Motion" or Snoop's "Drop It Like It's Hot." Songs such as these might temperately yank you out of the otherwise fresh feel to the ensemble, but they still aren't bad mixes to vibe too, especially when SNICKA slides in the "Gimmie One More Chance" chorus to "Drop It Like It's Hot." (Which Snoop fumbled anyway, glad somebody picked up the beat.)

Overall, "Biggie Blendz" is a surprisingly great buy. It really sounds like SNICKA is making music, not a mixtape. Also, SNICKA gives the GREATEST MC OF ALL TIME (check The Source) the attention he deserves. His lyrics fit the beat like a puzzle piece, in both pacing and intensity. Biggie spitting the "10 Crack Commandments" over a Dr. Dre beat blows the original away, and when the big man breaks into Terror Squad's "Lean Back" screaming "I was a terror since the public school era!" I always wonder why Fat Joe didn't throw B.I.G. in the remix instead of his tranquilized successor, Mase. It is noteworthy to point out that the last twelve tracks are live material from London, and are completely skippable. As for the first eighteen, don't skip a beat because Biggie is back on the streets.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: December 14, 2004