CD1 kicks off in ordinary fashion, funked up and full of percussion that gets your head nodding, but not your feet tapping. It carries along in the same vein until around track 5, Level 42 – 'Starchild', which starts with a mean loop then shifts gear as the vocal punches in. The melody on this number really carries the mix forward and it's only now that I feel Dope starts flexing some catalogue muscle given he's known to have around 35,000 records. Dayton's 'Sound of Music' really hits the soul with its '80s induced male vocals, firming up the mix and enhancing the music. The appearance of all-time classic Kool & The Gang's 'Open Sesame', makes me wonder why Dope hasn't decided to be a little more experimental or tried to re-educate the younger cats. It's quite clear he has tried to capture the time when he started DJing from the selected tracks and the way the mix has been put together, but it does seem to run contrary to the idea of a 'new' compilation.
Tavares - 'It Only Takes A Minute Girl' starts CD2 off in higher octane fashion. It's followed by 'Together Forever' by Exodus, a real collector's gem which has the raw sounds of vinyl, old and used. The track appears in its original form and it's good to see very few re-edits on this mix, a refreshing change from the multitude of ‘Dex and FX’ mixes out there. Ingram – 'Mi Sabrina Tequana', changes the vibe taking things a little deeper with a moody guitar riff before the mix heads into the final corner - the BPM at 130 and some big names still to come. Track 11 is a Kenny Dope remix of Kashmere Stage Band's 'Super Strut'. Displaying soul and strength with jumpy trumpets and sleepy flutes, you can really hear Dope's influence all over the arrangement. A fitting conclusion to the mix comes in the form of Hokis Pokis – 'Nowhere (Danny Krivit Edit)', a nice drum-fuelled number with male vocals chanting "on my way to nowhere".
Both discs are a good representation of what you would hear if you saw Kenny Dope at Madame JoJo’s or back home in the States. The mix is a respectful and nostalgic nod to a time when music was free and simplistic, minus the politics and heavy rotation of pop fodder, and successfully encapsulates the feeling and energy of Dope's musical education and experiences. The second disc, featuring a lot of tracks with well-known vocal snippets or rhythms which have been heavily sampled, is the stronger of the two and also exemplifies Kenny Dope's seamless and organic mixing.
Parts of the mix were inspirational and helped me to understand a little more about Kenny Dope, both as producer and live performer. Still, this Choice mix will not be for everyone. You can however, be assured of hearing a mix that has been carefully crafted and compiled by someone with no fewer than 15 years in the dance music industry.