Moodymann DJ-Kicks

[!K7; 2016]

Styles: house, techno
Others: Kenny Dixon Jr., 3 Chairs, Norma Jean Bell, Anne Clark

What does Detroit mean? The bleating of the disaster-oriented media trills out the wasteland narrative, with its sympathy aimed squarely at the physical artifacts of the city, often ignoring the people left behind. Ruin porn isn’t new anymore — it’s the totality of today’s Detroit, internalized into coastal psyches as the city where humans don’t exist but legions of collapsed buildings do. It’s fitting that the depersonalized sounds of techno sprang out of Detroit’s empty streets.

For the techno fan, Detroit means bringing it back to the roots, keeping it real, keeping it black, embracing the high-minded, Europhile snobbery of the genre’s founders. For house producer Kenny Dixon Jr., Detroit is the city he cruises through in his Impala, blasting soul, house, and funky new wave. His brand of dance music is filtered through his own eclectic tastes and couldn’t sound more different from techno’s futurist pounding.

Moodymann’s a high-profile selector, but this addition to the long-running DJ-Kicks series is his first mix CD. It’s a woozy drive into the depths of his record collection, ditching the expectations typically aimed at a house producer. If KDJ wants to start off his record with the jazzy soul of Yaw’s “Where Will You Be,” he’s gonna do that, and there ain’t no motherfucker that can tell him not to. This is the married man that does interviews tucked into bed with three young ladies surrounding him, touching his hair and cuddling. If you want electronics, go listen to Richie Hawtin. Moody plays what Moody wants to.

The mix is a slow weave between genres, many tracks still sounding dusty from the forgotten crates from which KDJ dug them up. Cody Chestnutt’s exquisite “Serve This Royalty” shows off Moodymann’s passion for pimp-speak early: “Thank you Jesus for my momma, and thank you bitches for my money.”

There’s little sense of genre in an record-industry sense here. The pieces Moodymann mixes together, like the downtempo house of Daniel Bortz’s “Cuz You’re The One” and Swedish folksinger José González’s mournful “Remain,” shouldn’t work, but they keep the calm atmosphere going. Moodymann’s the friend on the aux cable with a perfect grasp of the night’s atmosphere, piloting the music while you’re at the steering wheel. This isn’t a mix to turn up to, but it suits the solemness of the after-party drive just fine.

Tempos don’t hit the danceable range until halfway through the mix, but why would Moodymann need any more kick drums? The thump of tires on Motor City asphalt echo at 120 BPM anyway. And just when you think you know what to expect, he throws a live recording of English poet Anne Clark into the mix, just to smack any notions of predictability out of your head.

“My bitches and my hoes is my MPCs, my SP-1200, my bass, my keyboards,” said Moodymann in a 2010 interview. “Them bitches go out there and make my motherfucking money.” In Moody’s world, then, we’re just the helpless johns that put cash in his wallet and gas in his Impala.

Links: !K7

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