Rock Phenomenon is DJ Vlad and Roc Raida’s attempt at mash-ups, which are usually kinda stupid and are always risky, at least when committed to tape and released to the public. The deejays pair fifteen rappers with twenty rock artists over twenty-one tracks, and they do so with varying results. Predictably, there are flashes of scorching brilliance (Lil Jon vs. Black Sabbath, Eightball & MJG vs. Slayer), and a bunch of miscalculated fuck-ups (DMX vs. Nirvana, Jay-Z vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers). A lot of it’s somewhere in the middle, admirable but mostly unlistenable, given how familiar so many of the artists and songs used here already are (Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”; Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”; Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and “Foxey Lady”; verses by Eminem, 50 Cent, DMX, Jay-Z — who never needs to be mashed up again — 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G).
Some things are just interesting, like hearing Em’s verses from “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” laid over the Eagles’ “Hotel California” (made even more haunting when you consider the latter song’s line, “You can check out any time you like/ But you can never leave”). 50’s “Many Men” is doubly redemptive lifted by the strings in the Verve‘s “Bittersweet Symphony,” and Ludacris‘s “Get Back” gets the stomp it deserves from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” (a mash-up I’ve renamed “Get Back in Black”).
The real stunner is 2Pac vs. Survivor, where ‘Pac’s “Holla If Ya Hear Me” rides “Eye of the Tiger” like a soundtrack to war. When the call of “Pump ya fist like this/ Holla if ya hear me (pump pump)/ If ya pissed” hits the beat-drop right on cue, it’s a case for the mash-up as art. The rest of Rock Phenomenon is a case for the mash-up as experimentation only.
DJ Vlad Web site