[19 May 2003]
A great spiritual leader once said “if you think you have it going on in a certain area of your life, that is probably the area you need to check yourself in regularly.”
What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, when I was offered the chance to impart my not so humble opinion of what’s good and what’s garbage in music, I’ll admit I took it on with an elitist attitude. “This will be easy,” I thought. “I’m a published author and an expert when it comes to music. I can do this with my eyes closed.”
My confidence was put to the test when King Britt‘s The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed came across my desk. “Simple,” I thought. I mean the groundwork was easy, right? You have Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, bandleader/drummer for, quite possibly, the most innovative hip-hop band ever (I’m speaking of the Roots, of course), Uri Caine, the jazz pianist once referred to as the Be Bop Beethoven, and bassist extraordinaire Christian McBride, who toured with Sting (a favorite), and the creator of the masterpiece Number Two Express (1996, Polygram), a disc that I give regular rotation to this day. Then, you add King Britt, Digable Planets former DJ and the brains behind Sylk 130? “Man, please! This will be written in ten minutes tops.”
Fast forward a few months, and this CD sat on my desk, taunting me. Was it just too much? Was it a sensory overload? What would the people at www.okayplayer.com (The Roots website) think? The members there are so fickle (I should know—I’m one of ‘em). I told myself “it’s a CD. It’s an inanimate object!” The thing was (is), that the disc is so good it intimidated me. I couldn’t just drop names of the people involved (the aforementioned bigwigs, plus guest remixers Rob Life, Charlie Dark, Vikter Duplaix and the Randy Watson Experience a.k.a. ?uestlove among others, all hailing from Philly), people would see right through that. Then, I couldn’t quote any lyrics from the songs—it’s jazz! I knew I liked it, but how could I express the coolness/funkiness to the masses? The answer lay in the message board of the very website I was so concerned about.
A post on okayplayer.com discussed “cinematic headphone experiences”, times in which the music playing in your headphones provides the perfect soundtrack to your surroundings. The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed is best listened to on headphones (really high-end, noise canceling headphones to be exact), and is best described as that—a cinematic headphone experience.
From the opening notes of Rob Life’s Main Mix of “Miles Hit”, to the final sounds of the “Mr. Magic” remix, the listener is taken on a multi-genred (is that an actual word?) trek through late night Philadelphia, complete with stops on Brown, Delaware, Diamond, and South streets. Stand out tracks include “Grover the III (Theme to massagejawn.com)”, “Grover” remix, and the King Britt Scuba Remix of “Miles Hit”.
So, for a melodic trek through the streets of Philly, I strongly suggest picking up The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed. Unfortunately, cheesesteaks are not included.