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The Allies

D-Day

(Asphodel; US: 20 Jun 2000; UK: 17 Jul 2000)

Music critics these days are likely to write about the renaissance of turntablism as an art form, but hip-hop DJs still don’t get much attention from the general public. Even if fans are willing to give them some notice as part of a larger hip-hop show, as a side act between two MCs, it’ll be a while before DJ albums break into the Billboard charts.


The Allies aren’t out to change that necessarily; they don’t seem to pay celebrity status or mainstream success much attention. Instead, the six DJs that make up the Allies work at blending the unique tactics used by each of them into a unified creative attack, a sonic collage showcasing the art of being a DJ. This attack is D-Day, a 30-minute EP dominated by a consistently unique and arresting combination of sounds.


The six DJs in the Allies have received much praise and won many championships on their own: DJ Craze, A-Trak, Develop, Infamous, J-Smoke, and Spictakular. All six have won at least one world DJ title, and four of them have won numerous titles at the world, national and regional levels. Each of the six is also involved in many other producing, touring and recording projects.


With each one having such an outstanding background in hip-hop, what’s most amazing about D-Day is how well they work together. This isn’t a display of egos, but the work of a solid crew. Though each is introduced by name the first time that he appears on the first track, no names are mentioned after that; all that remains are noises and sounds. Each of the DJs gets his own solo track, and there are three tracks where they’re all together. Each DJ has his own approach on the solo tracks: A-Trak uses sampled snippets to form a tribute to DJs, Develop creates a spooky spaceout, Spictakular sets up a nice backing track for unsigned MC Mayhem (the one MC on the EP). Yet despite their different approaches, all of the tracks hang together as one piece of art.


This EP is all about teamwork, about combining disparate personalities and techniques to come up with a seamless creation. That creation is a dizzying mix of all sorts of scratches and mixes, along with mid-tempo beats and an array of samples. What could be a chaotic mess comes out as a brilliant, creative work of sound, one with all sorts of dimensions and angles. D-Day is the perfect display of what DJs are all about. It shows off what they do while pushing hip-hop in a new direction, one based on juxtaposed sounds and interesting musical choices instead of on moving the crowd or trying to get airtime on MTV.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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