DJ Aaron LaCrate :: Dope on the Tables :: Milkcrate Athletics Recordings
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

If you've seen one mixtape you've seen them all. There's a mixtape for every new artist who thinks he or she is the shit. There's a mixtape for every artist who is between albums and wants to hype you up for their next release. There's a mixtape for artists who are betweens label who are trying to get some buzz and a new deal. There's pause tapes, blend tapes, countless revisions of Jay-Z's "The Black Album," Screw tapes, Whoo Kid tapes, and the funniest thing about all of this shit is that we still call them "mixtapes" even though these days most of them are coming out on compact disc.

Needless to say I was skeptical of DJ Aaron LaCrate's claim that he was "Dope on the Tables." How many times have I seen or heard it before? What can Aaron LaCrate do that hasn't been done before? Nothing really. Then again just because every word in the english language has been used a million times doesn't stop people from finding new ways to combine them from fresh raps to full length novels. So to be clear at the start the concept of LaCrate's "Dope on the Tables" is that it's his own personal "old school" mix complete with double-ups, beat blends, and the occasional (but for a mixtape DJ not too excessive) self-recognizing drops.

LaCrate impressed me right off the bat though by blending an acapella of Wu-Tang Clan's "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" with Eric B. & Rakim's instrumetanl for "Juice." Either song is dope on it's own, but LaCrate matched the BPM's up sweet and created a monster out of the two. Finishing the song off by going back to Rakim's original vocals and then gradually merging it into Big Daddy Kane's live "Wrath of Kane" definitely set the proper tone. I was convinced that LaCrate was not only smart with his song selection but serious about his mixtape craft.

I'm not going to sell you on LaCrate as the greatest thing since sliced bread though. As a matter of fact there are so many mixtapes coming out these days (seems like a dozen a week) that it's possible there are three things doper than "Dope on the Tables" that came out this week I don't even know shit about. But still I gotta give LaCrate props for doing his thang with style and cojones. Yes it takes cojones to put a pop rapper like Young MC and a militant hip-hop activist like Professor X back to back in a mix, but the two exist in a state of vangloriousness together in this selector's milk crates. If you're around my age this album will remind you of the music you grew up with that made you fall in love with hip-hop in the first place. Schoolly D's "Saturday Night," Chubb Rock's "Ya Bad Chubbs," Kool G. Rap's "Erase Racism" and MC Breed's "Ain't No Future in Ya Frontin'" are just a few of the many choice songs in the rotation. These days it's hard to find any mixtape worth listening to from start to finish without skipping over tracks, but "Dope on the Tables" takes me back to the days when the only people running shit were Kid Capri and Ron G. Look for this one.

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Mix Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10

Originally posted: October 25, 2005