Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Does It All Mean Steinski?

The djing and music production facets of hip-hop culture are deeply inspired by past classics, and of those, Double Dee and Steinski’s Lessons mix collages on Tommy Boy Music are held in extremely high regard. Luckily for those of us who don’t own the original vinyl copies, these gems of hip-hop lore have been compiled on the two CD set Steinski: What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective, on the Illegal Art label. It includes a remix of Soulsonic Force members G.L.O.B.E. and Whiz Kid’s single "Play That Beat, Mr. D.J.," Double Dee and Steinski’s entry to an 1983 Tommy Boy remix contest organized to promote the act.

That remix won the contest and went on to be called Lesson 1 – The Payoff Mix, a cut and paste sound collage of funk, disco, soul and rock classics glued together with snatches of instructional records. Three more lesson records followed and these became what many regard as a foundation block of hip-hop itself, as well as an inspiration to artists such as De La Soul, Coldcut, Cut Chemist and Girl Talk (who records for the Illegal Art label this collection appears on).

Also included on here is Steinski’s sonic tapestry of the Kennedy assassination, “The Motorcade Sped On,” first released on Tommy boy in 1986 and given away free, as a seven inch single, on the cover of NME in February of 1987. And there are several collaborative efforts between Steinski and other artists like Slats Dolan and DJ P-Love on the tracks “Everything's Disappeared,” “Vox Apostolica,” and “The Big Man Laughs.”

Fourteen of Steinski’s cut and paste work outs comprise disc one and on disc two there’s his 2002 Nothing To Fear mix, a sonic marathon constructed from classic funk and disco tunes, old and new hip-hop tracks, including Nelly’s “Country Grammar,” segments from instructional records (of course), and movie dialog. You don’t have to be a hip-hop junkie to appreciate this fab compilation, nor do you need to discuss it in the context of found sound, William Burroughs or Musique Concrèt. You could just listen to it and enjoy it, because it is very, very enjoyable.


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