We’ve covered many DJ Spinna albums over the years, ranging from official to unofficial to extremely hard to find either way. I’m going to put “The DJ Spinna Tape Volume 01” into the IDKWTFBBQ? category. I can’t honestly be sure this isn’t just a cleverly photoshopped album cover thrown together by the same person who put the compilation together. I do know I was hooked by six minutes and 21 seconds in when I heard the instrumental to the remix of De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High.”
The songs on “Volume 01” are definitely official, even if they might be a little obscure to the listener, much like Spinna himself. The Brooklynite with a gift for production has never allowed himself to be spoken of in the same hushed reverent tones as Primo or Alchemist and that’s entirely by choice. He’s VERY selective about who he makes tracks for — so selective that you might mistake him for being snobby or elitist. You can argue about whether or not art is meant for the masses (and consequently the sub-argument about whether downloading music is “a crime” if you can’t afford art) but you can’t argue that when DJ Spinna does bless someone with a track, it’s rarely ever one that doesn’t live up to his own high standards.
Official or otherwise “The DJ Spinna Tape Volume 01” cultivates the best of his finest work, making it a “best of the best” of sorts. If there actually was a vinyl record or CD of the album pictured, I’d want to own it for that reason. Songs like “Bahia Blues” personify the reason why. The essence of hip-hop is within the song, from the old school “Rock the Bells” percussive sounds to the funky flute samples, but it ultimately transcends those elements and you become entranced by the layers of sound he perfectly meshed together.
It can in fact be argued that the reason DJ Spinna is so selective about the people he works with is because unlike so many producers, his instrumentals STAND ALONE. Hearing someone rap over DJ Premier is a joy, but hearing someone rap over “Bahia Blues” or any track on this compilation would get in the way of respecting the architect. Producers at the highest level aren’t simply sampling and sequencing, they are breaking things down to their constituent elements and then rebuilding them into something entirely now. It’s music a la Minecraft – you can break it down to fragments and then build anything you imagine so long as you have the right bits to assemble it with. “Volume 01” shows just how good Spinna is at breaking things down and building them back up into something BETTER.