January 8th, 2007

vikter.jpegTitle: Bold and Beautiful
Artist: Vikter Duplaix
Label: BBE Records
Catalog No.: CD 730003107023.
Date: 2006

Few would debate the role of electronic technology in the birth and growth of hip hop music. From hip hop’s South Bronx beginnings, the music was inextricably connected to the innovation of existing sound technology. Hip hop DJ pioneers—including Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grand Master Flash—made an art of redefining record playing techniques such as mixing and scratching to accentuate their DJ performances. Arguably there was also an influence from the disco era in terms of elevating the role of the DJ to that of an artist.

Vikter Dupliax’s Bold and Beautiful represents the maturation of the hip hop DJ as an artist and visionary, not just in terms of traditional hip hop live DJ performances, but as studio producers as well. A Philadelphia native, Dupliax draws on various musical influences, including the “Philly Sound” developed by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, hip hop, and electronica dance music.

Bold and Beautiful is the mellowest of his three electronica albums. Known for his airy vocal delivery, Duplaix is consistent throughout the project. Though he has a narrow vocal range, diversity is provided through his production abilities and the avid musicianship of Raphael Saadiq of Tony Toni Toné on bass, famed house music producer Ron Trent on bass, gospel singer Tye Tribbet, Canadian trip-hop queen Esthero, and Grammy-award winning producer James Poyser on keyboards. This supporting cast of musicians from various musical genres adequately supports Duplaix’s vision for the album.

Bold and Beautiful is Duplaix’s second full album release. His 2001 debut, International Affairs, was more heavily influenced by the broken beat sounds of Europe. This is not surprising considering the amount of work Duplaix has done with electronica production collectives such as Jazzanova from Germany. With Duplaix’s current release he creates a more downtempo atmosphere using ambient synthesizers and subdued drum and bass lines. Songs such as “Make a Baby” and “Another Great Love Gone By” exemplify this type of production. Consequently, this album is more consistent with European electronica in that the vocals are distantly tantamount to the instrumental elements of the song. A notable exception to this rule is “I See the Sun,” featuring gospel singer Tye Tribbet and his choir G.A., which is the most vocally ambitious track on Bold and Beautiful. The presence of vocals also keeps the music accessible to the casual listener.

Duplaix chose to use no emcees and provides almost all of his own vocals. His album represents electronica in its various incarnations including contemplative hip hop, frenetic dance music, and downtempo lounge music. There is tremendous breadth of African-American interpretation within the genre. But what Bold and Beautiful most accurately displays is how a generation of African-American DJs, who have always been electronically inclined, use machines to make their sound even more expansive and expressive rather than more minimalist. Consequently, this type of technological innovation in music places them squarely in the continuum that began with newly-enslaved Africans who used hambones and spoons to articulate a sound they heard within.

Posted by fredara mareva

Review Genre(s): Electronica, Club/Dance Music


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