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Various Artists

Rmxxology

(Delicious Vinyl; US: 12 Aug 2008; UK: Available as import)

Honestly, as a nine-year old I didn’t give a rip about what label released “Bust a Move” or “Wild Thing.” I just liked the way the beats and rhymes told me things my parents were too scared to tell me about—or maybe they just couldn’t rhyme as well, or deliver the “taboo messaging” as effectively as a USC student (Young MC) or a former gang member (Tone Loc) could. But now, with RMxxology—a remixed reissue of those songs and others by classic Delicious Vinyl artists—I have a chance redeem myself. So thank you to Delicious Vinyl, its co-founder Michael Ross, and his brother Rick—this anthology’s curator—for both unleashing those two songs on the world in 1987, and for putting a new robotic wiggle-crunch and electronic spin on two classic tracks here in 2008.


Part of me thinks that by now I should’ve outgrown the provocatively swinging subject matter of “Wild Thing” and “Bust a Move”, but even though I no longer need Marvin Young’s (aka Young MC) help in relations with the opposite sex (neither his or Tone Loc’s advice really helped anyway), these songs still demand an instant rap-a-long the minute the snare and hi-hat and bass kick in. Every time the originals pop up on a mixtape or float across (satellite) radio, I’m compelled to match rhymes with the MCs.  Now, here on Rmxxology, the lyrical flow and contagious beats are kept intact, and what made these songs multi-platinum hits is now cloaked in a heavier dose of electro-funk, lodging the beats even further into the fabric of my Freudian melodic gray matter than they were before. 


Nostalgic daydreaming aside, almost all the songs on this remix anthology—specifically, Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” and “Runnin’”, Masta Ace’s “Sitting on Chrome” and the Eminem remixed “Slaughtahouse”—hold on to the old-school feel, but they also dig some new trenches and discover fresh avenues of exploration without messing too much with the vintage framework or essence of the originals. Listening to the remixes also reminds you just how well those songs captured an era when storytelling hip-hop and dance floor grooving converged to create songs packed with simplicity, sensuality, playfulness, and irresistible hooks that pushed hip-hop and electronic dance music even further into the mainstream playlist.


Over the last 20 years, the Ross brothers and Delicious Vinyl have released some of hip-hop’s best singles, along with a few one hit wonders. From Tone Loc to the Pharcyde, the label has managed to blend catchy beats and complex sonic textures. Whether they’re sensual club-grinding narratives or jazz-flavored socio-philosophizing, Delicious Vinyl has continually shown its knack for releasing tracks that are loaded with head-bobbing hooks and the depth and substance to become timeless. It’s not an easy thing to do, but they did it consistently—if not with full albums, then certainly with singles.


The decision to compile the anthology began when Peaches and Tone Loc teamed up to do a live remix of “Wild Thing” in November last year. From there, Delicious Vinyl compiled other hit tracks from its catalogue and handed them over to a handful of artists to take a twist of the knobs and slap a new sonic spin on a classic DV track that inspired them. 


The remixed memory trip begins with the “Freak-A-Zoid (Rmxxology Theme)”, a fusing of Africa Bambaata-style electro-funk and electronica-crunch textures similar to Justice and Daft Punk.  Following the anthem in the number two and three slots are the Peaches remix of Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” and Don Rimini Ravekid’s extended remix of Young MC’s “Bust a Move”.  Both of these, as we know, transcended the studio, set fire to the club dance floors, and eventually went on to conquer the mainstream in the late ‘80s. And in these 21st century remixed versions, the unexpected Peaches cameo adds the missing female flavor to the original “Wild Thing”, as her verses volley with Tone Loc’s original rhymes, flowing on for a solid sizzling six minutes.


When it came to writing rhymes that sound like playa infomercials and spitting them over 16 bars, Young MC was at his best with “Bust a Move” and “Know How”. Though the rhymes, punch lines, and “move it boi’s” of the Lyrical Casanova receive minor freaky robotic vocal transplants in this version, the soulfulness and fluid flesh-on-flesh percussive rhythms remain, and these joints are just irresistible as they were back in the day. Having electro-pop maestros Hot Chip add their soulfully-lead, melodic, electronic-inspired tinkerings to Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” surprisingly adds more soul to a song that was already busting with righteous organ hums, pianos, and other jazz-based melodies. Pharcyde’s “Runnin’” also receives spliced-up turntablism treatment courtesy of Philippians.


Finishing up the album are five instrumentals of aforementioned tracks that—although they are well-orchestrated explorations—feel like filler compared to the rest of the album. But as a plus, they allow the lower half of your body to move more freely, just in case you might have had your fill of rhymes. Looking ahead to the next 20 years, these final five tracks almost feel like an invitation to the next generation of producers/beat makers who think eating records is good for your health—though vinyl is growing scarce these days, and MP3s might have to do. Dinner is served, and the vinyl is now electro-delicious and has aged nicely, ready to be consumed by a new crop of nine-year-olds.

Rating:

Based in Chicago, Chris is also the author/publisher of Live Fix Blog (www.livefixblog.com), a merging of his Popmatters and other music-based writings (reviews, interviews, features) exploring fan behavior, social media, community and artist performance in live concert culture.


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