Moodymann – DJ-Kicks


Title: DJ-Kicks

Artist: Moodymann

Label: !K7

Formats: CD, 3xLP, digital

Release date: February 2016


Detroit’s lengendary producer Moodymann, aka Kenny Dixon Jr., is reknown for mixing obscure tracks into soulful house music, not to mention his tendency to obscure his persona through veils and hoodies, and his facility in the roller rink and organizer of Soul Skate. As one of the primary forces in techno music, which emerged in Detroit’s African American community in the 1980s, Dixon followed on the heels of originators such Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson. His 1997 single “Dem Young Sconies” was cited by techno historian Denise Dalphond as one of Detroit techno’s 10 most essential tracks.

Though Dixon has released many albums and singles over his nearly 30-year career, some on his own KDJ label, DJ-Kicks is the first official multi-artist Moodymann mixtape. Featuring 30 tracks (primarily post-2000 releases), of which 11 are exclusive Moodymann edits, the mixtape is the 51st entry in !K7’s highly acclaimed DJ-Kicks series.

As usual, Moodymann’s mix is remarkably eclectic, delving into a wide range of African American genres ranging from hip hop and soul to jazz and funk, in addition to his bread and butter house, techno, and dance music. Detroit artists figure heavily in the project, including Andrés, Platinum Pied Pipers, Dopehead and Marcellus Pittman. Other tracks feature more popular artists such as Cody ChesnuTT, Shawn Lee and Flying Lotus, while DJ/Producers are represented by Rich Medina, Nightmares on Wax, the Fort Knox Five, Joeski, and Berlin native Daniel Bortz.

The mixtape flows smoothly between selections, with Big Muff’s rendition of “My Funny Valentine” segueing into Les Sins’ “Grind” and Tirogo’s “Disco Maniac.” Though DJ-Kicks doesn’t include Dixon’s earlier trademark political references, such as his brilliant single “The Day We Lost The Soul” which sampled Marvin Gayes “Whats Goin On” and various speeches about Gaye, it’s a welcome and long awaited addition to Moodymann’s body of underground releases.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

Carl Craig – Sessions

craig.jpgTitle: Sessions
Artist: Carl Craig
Label: K7 Records
Catalog No.: !K7224CD
Date: 2008

Carl Craig is one of the most innovative techno DJ/producers to come out of Detroit. A product of the “second wave” of DJ’s who followed in the footsteps of techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May, Craig has traveled the world spreading his unique brand of Detroit techno that is infused with elements of jazz and soul music. His innovation approach to production has enabled him to work with the likes of Herbie Hancock.

Craig has released over fifteen albums under various pseudonyms and aliases (all are listed on his Wikipedia entry). Sessions, his latest CD, is a combination of some retouched classics as well as previously unreleased material. The double disc includes over twenty tracks that are diverse enough to keep your ear interested but blend well enough to create a seamless listening experience. The tone of the project reflects what it is like to hear Carl Craig DJ in person. He uses his mixes to bring the listener in, and then builds the energy to a climax before slowly releasing you. Sessions does a good job of using Craig mainstays and new works to achieve this arc.

I admit that this double disc project can be a little overwhelming. At times it can feel like a lot of music to get through, especially since Sessions presents one long seamless musical experience. That means there’s no easy point to turn it off until you get to the end. But if you take the time to listen to the layers of texture that Craig adds to songs like Theo Parrish’s “Falling Up” and his Grammy nominated remix of the Junior Boys “Like a Child,” you can easily hear all the musical intricacies that make techno so great to listen and dance to.

Techno music is many things to many people. But by the standards of most fans, Carl Craig is one the best DJ/producers around. If you’ve never given electronic dance music a chance, Sessions is a great place to start. Its a solid project that gives a sampling of the different sounds that Craig has introduced and popularized through techno. For those who are long time techno fans, it will remind them of how great techno and electronic dance music can be.

Posted by fredara mareva