DJ Cam

    Revisited By

    8

    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.

    [more:]

     

    Two
    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.

     

    Cam’s
    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.

     

    Only
    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.

     

    The
    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.

     

     

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