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