France’s DJ Cam built a lifetime of rep out of his 1996 stateside debut, Mad Blunted Jazz, which combined his first two releases, Underground Vibes (1994) and Underground Live (1996).
His subsequent albums have managed to refine or extend that album’s
aesthetic but never quite dominate it. French deejays who took their
love of hip-hop and smoothed it out with a flair for jazzy melody can’t
help but confuse people; when a producer such as Cam also delves into
other electronic genres including jungle or garage, it inspires
confusion amongst those who fell in love with his original stylings. It
takes a remix project to show not so much how his tracks can be
rearranged, but rather to highlight the variety in his style that made
him so good in the first place.
out of three mixes for Cam’s most famous tune, “Success,” shine in
their own interpretations of the theme (the third is a by-the-numbers
mix by Thievery Corporation). Kenny Dope leads off the album with a
version that strips out the boom-bap of the original and surrounds the
soulful vocal sample with reverberating shimmers and ethereal
creakings; the Attica Blues mix keeps intact the thump of the original
and piles on dive-bombing synthesizers, a scratch attack, and strings
that search out the track’s peaks and valleys.
hip-hop approach can’t help but shine through with lyrics from Guru,
Afu Ra and Channel Live. Premier’s production aesthetic, all crackling
drums and scratched vocal hook, dominates his mix of “Voodoo Child,”
though the tremulous organ that forms the underbelly smacks of Cam’s
design. With the understated, murky funk of “Love Junkee,” Jay Dee
manages to render the potentially cheesy contribution of 1980s
funk/dance group Cameo into a classy, confident joint.
one track really mucks with the formula in any novel way: Demon’s remix
of the “DJ Cam Sound System.” Originally a loping sound clash with
Guru’s husky voice providing the hook (perhaps French abstract
hip-hop’s answer to “Run’s House”), Demon lays down a skittering
electro beat with a funky club bass line that sounds like a Meat Beat
Manifesto remix with a glow stick in Jack Danger’s back pocket.
lack of radically reinterpreting gestures doesn’t doom the album. Cam’s
musical vision, a blend of smooth jazzinflected down-tempo grooves in
direct mixture with hip-hop’s harder edges – which sees his early work
at least on par with the likes of DJ Krush and Shadow – makes for
variety enough. The remixers’ willingness to extend rather than
reformulate Cam’s atmosphere makes this a nice alternative to the
standard best-of fare. DJ Cam completists who already own Soulshine or
dug “Success” enough to grab the remix maxi-single may frown at how
much of the material they already own, but for folks less steeped in
his grooves, Revisited serves as a fitting overview.