Taken totally out of context, a mix by somebody called DJ Yoda featuring Belle Biv Devoe, Salt N Pepa and Minnie Ripperton sounds like something your little brother would have cooked up with two tape decks on a rainy Sunday afternoon during his Star Wars phase circa 1993. But it’s 2008, and instead of a dusty old mixtape it’s the whopping 39th installment of the FabricLive CD series, and somebody called DJ Yoda just happens to be a hugely respected jock with a longtime residence at Fabric.
There’s still significant potential for failure even with that pedigree, but luckily Yoda pulls it off. With this and his three-volume How To Cut ‘n Paste mix series, Yoda’s has defined himself as a sort of kid in a musical sandbox, bridging wide gaps between genres and tempos. On FabricLive. 39, the approach sometimes feels childish – such as on the mix’s intro, for which Yoda’s wishlist apparently read, “I want a boxing announcer, an’ sirens, an’ apocalyptic chanting an’ an’ an’ a shout-out from KANYE WEST!”
But if Yoda never grew up on the inside, at least he’s become a much better DJ – a fact consistently on display here. The first ten or so tracks of FabricLive. 39 aren’t focused much on clever between-track mixing, but rather Yoda’s scratching skills and Easter eggs hidden here and there. The uncredited hip-hop “bonus beats” on Violent Femmes’ eternal ‘Blister in the Sun’ are an obvious one, but careful listening reveals, for instance, Skibadee’s 2006 rap track ‘Tika Toc’ getting more comfy with its source material, ‘Golden Hen’ by late dancehall artist Tenor Saw from 20 years prior. There also seems to be a wink-and-a-nod in putting together Handsome Boy Modeling School’s ‘Holy Calamity’ and Ice Cube’s ‘Jackin’ For Beats’ as the former track’s lyricist, Del The Funky Homosapien and Mr. Cube are real-life cousins. Maybe I’m reaching too far, though.
The only misstep on this part of the mix is the inclusion of The Hot 8 Brass Band’s instrumental take on Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing.’ Whether intentional or not, it brings the mix’s building energy to a total standstill. The horns are pretty damn sleazy, but brass band music is basically poison gas for the dancefloor and thus should’ve had no place here.
From here on out, Yoda wisely decides to crack his knuckles and get a bit more aggressive, calling on Baltimore Club producers Tittsworth, Scottie B and Bamabounce to spice up old tracks by the artists mentioned in this review’s first sentence. Salt N Pepa’s ‘Push It’ has some of the best and most recognizable old-school rap production out there – stripping it away entirely, as Yoda does, might even seem sacrilegious. Scottie B’s refix, however, is a dirty Bmore bass roller that gives the trio’s sexed-up come-ons more immediacy. It’s just too bad that such a novel take on an old-school rap track is side-by-side with the original version of Run-DMC’s ‘It’s Tricky.’ Sure it’s classic, but after twenty-plus years getting rinsed in loads of movies and commercials – not to mention high school dances and wedding receptions – it’s long overdue for some bonus beats of its own.
The closeout of FabricLive. 39 is heavy on drum n bass, with the laidback reggae vibes on Collie Buddz’ ‘Come Around’ suddenly giving way to a tough dnb breakbeat. Yoda & Sway’s goofy-as-hell ‘Chatterbox’ gets cleverly mashed-up with Adam F’s ‘Circles’, a jungle tune ten years old but none the worse for the wear. Time, however, hasn’t been so kind to DJ Zinc’s ‘Super Sharp Shooter’ from 1995 – again, it’s a legendary and hugely influential tune, but nowadays sounds too slow and, at nearly four minutes (the mix’s longest track), goes on too long.
Lord Kitchener gets last word, with the warm calypso sounds of ‘London is the Place for Me’ from the early ‘50s. More bonus beats are in full effect, of course, but at its heart this is a sweet, low-key love letter to the home of both Yoda and Fabric. It’s an almost beautiful way to close out the mix, certainly FabricLive’s most eclectic and perhaps most representative of the all-styles all-kinds approach the series has taken overall. Unlike a few recent installments, it doesn’t feel like Yoda had something to prove, and instead chose tracks he loves regardless of how fresh they are. In that sense, FabricLive. 39 is the series’ most timeless entry yet.
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Tracklist: DJ Yoda - FabricLive.3901 The Thunderclaps – Judgement Day (Donkey Work Re-Edit)
02 Violent Femmes – Blister In The Sun
03 Skibadee – Tika Toc
04 Handsome Boy Modeling School – Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II)
05 Ice Cube – Jackin’ For Beats
06 Ghost – It’s All Love
07 Jurassic 5 – Swing Set
08 The Hot 8 Brass Band – Sexual Healing
09 D Nice – Crumbs On The Table
10 Gang Starr – Just To Get A Rep
11 Jean Jacques Perry – EVA
** DJ Yoda & Herve – Bonus Beats
12 The Chemical Brothers – Salmon Dance
13 The Coral – In The Morning
14 Bell Biv Devoe – Poison
** Tittsworth – Bonus Beats
15 Run DMC – It’s Tricky
16 Salt N Pepa – Push It
** Scottie B - Bonus Beats
17 DJ Class – Tear Da Club Up
18 Bonde Do Role – Marina Gasolina
19 Minnie Ripperton – Lovin’ You
** Bamabounce Bonus Beats
20 Collie Buddz – Come Around
21 DJ Yoda Ft. Sway – Chatterbox
22 Adam F – Circles
23 DJ Zinc – Super Sharp Shooter
24 Wiley – Gangsters
** Skream – Make Me
25 Lord Kitchener – London Is The Place For Me
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