Sometimes being evil is tougher than it sounds. Society has placed rather demanding identifiers on what is, in fact evil and what clearly is not. Evil is a relative term. Some might say that a country’s presidential administration and its associated underlings can often be considered “evil” even if the “mandate” depicts otherwise, according to the head of the aforementioned evil administration. Evil Nine is neither nine nor evil, but they get the job done, leaving empty beer cups, overturned tables, and soiled couches in their wake.
On You Can Be Special Too, DJ/producer team Tom Beaufoy and Pat Pardy clears room for 15 party-accessible tracks, pushing hip hop, house, electronica and comical samples for a rather well-rounded throwdown. Beaufoy and Pardy found a place on Adam Freeland’s Marine Parade label shortly after they collaborated as a DJ team, their most noteworthy aspect being that they pull influences from all areas to keep their parties fresh and exciting. Evil Nine’s reputation has also been forged in remix territory as names like UNKLE and Ils have been given the Beaufoy/Pardy treatment with solid results. The duo has performed behind the decks on a worldwide basis, including UK hotspots The End (West London) as well as Fabric. Their reach on You Can Be Special Too is just as universal, as the album is a key player in living room parties as well as warehouse raves.
For “Crooked”, Brooklyn’s Aesop Rock rolls over a spacey, malevolent dance beat, making for a particularly memorable and repeat-worthy opening track. Ace rants about the fading city lights, and their preventing him from “getting down”. Sure, the Def Juxer has earned a deservedly golden reputation for mind-boggling, fragmented verse and beginning his career by four-tracking in his apartment, but he’s obviously not afraid to get down if properly motivated. Echoing his “I’m gettin’ the fuck down tonight” sentiment on El-P’s Fantastic Damage incantations, he leads the dance floor hysteria that eventually swallows up Beaufoy’s and Pardy’s compositions.
Evil Nine’s production is four star here, prompting even the haters of pulsing house beats to take notice of Special‘s energy and dizzying effects. “For Lovers Not Fighters” builds slowly to offensive heights in swirling blips that emanate from each channel, eventually birthing the slick, dreamy “Even the Smells”, punctuated only by Fidel Kutstro’s all-too-short scratching. In mentioning “offensive”, the inclusion of “Pearl Shot” may have warranted such a complaint, but Juice Aleem’s attempts at lewdness are just that: laughable misguided attempts. “I’ll put it in you” actually made it into his first verse, and suggests that the Red Hot Chili Peppers may have had some profound impact on him as a youth. How refreshing. New Flesh For Old’s Toastie Taylor tackles emcee duties and sings a melodic chorus over “Restless”, a rock-oriented clubber that nears chaos at its end before spinning into screeching distortion and slamming to an abrasive halt.
“Hired Goons” closes the shenanigans off too quickly with a slightly less fiery, albeit melodic jaunt. The abbreviated synth jabs punch in and out, accompanied by occasional changeups in drum breaks, with rolling psychedelic moments that offer a comedown most fitting of the rest of the efforts here. The new and improved mandate: Evil Nine would make for a respectable party nomination.