Modern Hits EP
Thanks, Puffy! Now that Mr. Diddy and his associates have, as the new disc puts it, "invented the remix," this notion of altering the "mix" of countless "tracks" with new "beats" is sure to catch on with Bad Boy-inspired "DJs" worldwide. (Be patient--this new jargon may sound confusing now, but soon it will become as natural a part of your everyday speech as "hella rad" and "23 skidoo.")
But really. Offering up six discrete cuts, rather than an integrated mix, Andrew Broder's remix EP imagines a genuinely "alternative" radio, where today's hits morph endlessly into weirder and catchier variations. Superficially, Modern Hits resembles "bootleg" mixes by Brit anarchomusicologists like Freelance Hellraiser, which mash the vocals from one pop hit with the music from another. Except that Broder records his own backing tracks here, often gentle acoustic rambles that rarely suggest the turntable- splintered indie rock of Broder's Fog. (Not the Fog--curb those lawyers, please, Mr. Mascis.)
Broder can get too cute: The gently jazzy Astral Works outtake beneath Kool G. Rap's fugitive shout on "On the Run" never progresses beyond mere ironic contrast. But a good two-thirds of this disc is revelatory. Hearing the "Help Me Rhonda" "ba ba ba da da's" of Outkast's "The Whole World" over a contrapuntal bass melody rather than a P-Funk lope brings the lyrics into sharper relief. And the jump-up junglism and hectic piano spliced onto "The Takeover" seems to incite Jay-Z to lurch with ravenous aggression instead of lying back with snide venom. Except that Jigga's vocal track is essentially unchanged.
By his own admission, Broder is not the Twin Cities' Best Hip-Hop DJ, or any kind of hip-hop DJ at all. Not no more, though a nameless someone at City Pages HQ recently selected him as such in the Best of the Twin Cities issue. And as he attempts to broaden turntablism's horizons, I doubt he'd have any interest in joining my misguided crusade to disabuse underground hip hop of its unacknowledged musical conservatism. But that, implicitly, is what this fellow traveler does here, restating hip hop's now-dormant mandate to manhandle tradition. (He should let rip on the classics and really piss folks off.) I'd go so far as to say that Broder has an even better handle on the potential of the remix than its actual inventor. (Whoa, easy, just kiddin', Puff. You know I love you.)