“Mirror Music” has been a runaway success ever since it hit record stores in 2004. Wordsworth proved himself to be an insightful hip-hop technician that knows his way around scattered lyrical parts when putting together a working engine. Instead of working with just a couple of people producing his debut, the Lyricist Lounge champ was backed up by a small army of beat makers. Upcoming talent Oddisee stepped up to decimate the army, and remixed half of this well-received debut.
Most of the time, re-issues are a very cheap way for record companies to make some extra bucks. All you get is a couple of B-sides, different artwork and the occasional enhanced music video “you-have-never-seen-before!” Halftooth Records approached Oddisee, who has worked with Little Brother, Jazzy Jeff and Kev Brown among others, to add a bit more substance to their own re-issue than the previous example.
Immediately the unavoidable question arises: Why didn’t Oddisee go all the way and remixed the whole album? Fair is fair: twenty tracks are a lot of ground to cover, even for someone who named himself after a Greek hero who is most known for his eternal determination. But since he just did half of that number- perhaps a clever reference to his own label- it is unclear what his motivation was when he picked certain songs to remodel or why he left others in peace. While he stayed clear of both The Beatminerz productions, he remixed both songs Ayatollah was assigned to craft for Wordsworth. Both have built a considerable reputation for themselves, so it is a bit unclear what his angle exactly is. It graces him though that he didn’t shy from remixing “Gotta Pay,” which he also produced on the original record.
But this is not a Sherlock Holmes novel, there isn’t a murder weapon in sight, and since Oddisee is a beatsmith instead of an axe murderer, let’s look at his accomplishments remixing this record instead of trying to analyze the mind of a perpetrator.
When listening to most of the remixes, it is apparent that Oddisee is on another level when it comes to rhythm patterns. He manages to come up with variations that are not always equally successful (“Right Now”) but almost every time surprising to say it the least. Unlike a lot of producers, Oddisee’s drums, kicks and high hats are no two times alike, which gives the freshness “Mirror Music” already possessed another dimension.
Without looking at his motives, Oddisee’s choices to rip apart certain songs are valid with the occasional exception. Curt Gowdy’s original version of “Unfair” contains a high-pitched electronic sample that resembles the warning signal of a microwave indicating last night’s lasagna is ready to be served. Apart from that sound being just as much fun as fingernails run across a school board, the drum patterns sound twitchy and give the song a nervous edge. Instead of letting Wordsworth shine the backbone beat is very distracting. Oddisee’s version radiates more serenity without losing the faster pace of the song out of sight.
Easily the best remix on the bonus disc is the laid back “Point Blank.” Oddisee traded in Sebb’s up-tempo guitar sample and a complete horn section for some finger snapping and a mellow organ, which gives the song a complete make-over. If this was Sebb’s baby, he probably will not recognize at after came out of Oddisee’s dope-on-plastic surgery machine.
The only modification I have a problem with is the remix of Ayatollah’s opening track “Right Now.” It is a sure shot in the flesh, and Oddisee did not succeed in providing a worthy alternative to this banger. The song sounds feeble and hesitant, because of the irregular drum sequence and the gospel singers doing some “Pah, pah, pom, pom” humming in the background.