I’d bet the keys to my Lincoln Navigator that if I gave any schmo off the street a crate of records, a mixer, and two turntables, he could come up with a funky feast for the senses. Which is what I love about mix tapes, hip-hop or otherwise, in the first place. They have a truly DIY Joie de Punque quality that you get when people are excited or show-offy enough to share their latest finds and fave raves. The mark of a good hip-hop tape is its dedication to rockin’ blocks, not how many rap luminaries a DJ has on speed dial. The DJ as God (yet another thing to blame whitey for—from Alan Freed, Murray the K, and Rootboy-I-mean-Fatboy Slim on down, none of whom ever got smoke inhalation from barbecue fumes or had a Colt 45 spilled all over their James Brown LPs) has no place when it comes to movin’ bodies.
Liam Howlett of U.K. rave faves Prodigy will never be mistaken for a hip-hop DJ. Instead, he’s a punk rock DJ who uses hip-hop beats like a punk rock drummer would—knockin’ you upside the head with ’em, cuz he’s still pissed about getting picked on in high school. Which is all good, if you ask me. Since he’s not really a hip-hop DJ, he doesn’t feel the need to dust off Mase or Method Man for yet another cameo, opting instead for ancient and dusted Kool Keith vocals and justified and ancient KLF tracks. His mix of umpteen old-school rap, techno, rock, and funk tunes is sloppy and exciting like good punk should be. The only thing nonpunk about it is his spirit of inclusiveness — everything from Jimmy Castor and Herbie Hancock to Jane’s Addiction and Primal Scream. To some in this country, mixing the Sex Pistols with Babe Ruth’s spaghetti-funk classic “The Mexican” might seem either wack or corny. Which is too bad. Because those are the same folks who think that sampling tired old Bruce Hornsby songs is a novel idea.