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Nightmares On Wax
DJ Kicks Series
Studio K7

George Evelyn, aka DJ Ease, the producer behind Nightmares on Wax has produced an incredible mix for Studio K7ís DJ Kicks Series. The series, now with 17 releases under its belt, has to be one of the most creative mix series out there. So many labels shoot for the cash by releasing predictable "DJ" mix-albums but Studio K7 gives the DJ artistic control of the project, leaving them to reflect their tastes and influences on each release. Georgeís albums like the acclaimed Smokerís Delight and the more recent Carboot Soul are loaded with breaks, bass, and a weed-drenched aesthetic, offering a down-tempo sound that encompasses a diverse number of musical influences from hip hop and dub to soul and electro. This mix puts DJ Ease behind the tables to show off some of the many tracks that have inspired him, and I found his offering more than generous with its 23 tracks of hip-hop, down-beat, and mellowed out funk that are flawlessly mixed together for a mandatory listen.

He starts the mix with Typeís "Slow Process," a gritty flanged out track that runs thick and saucy on the 808-kick drum. It makes for a strong opener and doesnít waste any time at grabbing your attention. After letting loose a fluid instrumental track with a nice break down by Only Child, Saukrates comes strong on their destined hip hop classic "Ay, Ay Studder" in which they stutter out their rhymes over tight rim shots. This track is addictive as hell and I thought it fused beautifully with DJ Paul Niceís track "Break it Down," a funky and minimal piece with a synth-bass line that sounds like a jacked up bug chirp with the pitch dropped. Less is so much more when the minimal approach is done right. Grand Unified and their "Shake Up" leads into his own "Ease Jimi." A tune reminiscent of some classic funk 45ís, it has a 70ís soul feel with moving horn sections and catchy guitar hooks. He then drops a punching jump-up styled break track by Jerry Beeks and moves into D.I.T.C. Ďs "Thick," a hip hop song produced by no other than DJ Premier of Gang Starr, featuring various M.C.ís and the flow of New Yorkís late Big L.

In addition to "Ease Jimi," the album features some of his collaborations as Nightmares On Wax. Tunes like "Burn Me Solo" with lyricist O.C, who is also on the D.I.T.C. song. The next song is the Nightmares On Wax collaboration with Corrina Joseph. It is surprisingly the only song on the entire album that I thought dragged a little but was by no means terrible, I just thought it could of worked better towards the end of the album. He quickly turns around the situation and makes a quick save with the Kenny Dopeís classic "Get On Down." If you donít know this one by name, you will when the hairs are standing up on the back of your neck in excitement. The vibe is continued with the raga-vocal sample on another Kenny Dope song "SuperKat," a sample of Super Cat himself perhaps?

I want to have a moment of silence for A Tribe Called Quest; their song "Award Tour" reminds me of all the reasons why I loved hip-hop in the first place. Too bad they are finished. This was a top-notch selection and shows why they were such an influence on so many artists. DJ Ease then leads us into some jazzy breaks courtesy of John Cameron on his track "Swamp Fever" following up with "Alphabet Aerobics," another hip hop masterpiece by Blackalicious in which they rhyme their verse in the order of the alphabet. This track is required listening if you havenít heard it already. "This Place" by DJ Trax is a mellow, drum heavy tune with some jazzy vibes and Hammond organ lines to compliment the tight snares of the drum track. "Itís a Latin Thing" by Freddie Fresh sounds exactly like you think it would. The song could easily fit into a Kruder and Dorfmeister set with its Latin percussion, tasty filters and steel drums. Underground Crownholders and their track "Aim" as well as "Sand Steppin" by Martin Brew are both top-notch instrumental hip hop tracks with scratching, thick snare rolls and climactic horn lines straight from a comic book action scene. One of the most interesting tracks on the mix is "Overooped" by Smokers Blend. This track has a dark atmosphere with choir samples and a wicked melody that sounds like it was created with a dulcimer. The mood lightens up quite a bit with "Pick Me Up" by Deadbeats. This song starts the wind down of the mix with a wobbly disco bass line and sub-bass reminiscent of early Meat Beat Manifesto tracks. DJ Easeís final selection is "Chocolate" by Syrup. This tune carries out the party vibe started by the Deadbeats but choosing a more classic funk sound. This one could easily be the theme from your favorite 70ís television show and marks the end of an essential listen for all down-tempo fans.

-Justin Hardison

Track Listing:

  1. "Slow Process "-Type
  2. "Breakneck"-Only Child
  3. "Ay, Ay Studder"- Saukrates
  4. "Break It Down"-DJ Paul Nice
  5. "Shake Up (Jaddle Remix)"-Grand Unified
  6. "Ease Jimi"-Nightmares On Wax
  7. "Flash $"- Jerry Beeks
  8. "Thick"-D.I.T.C.
  9. "Burn Me Slow"-Nightmares On Wax feat. O.C.
  10. "Play On"- Nightmares On Wax feat. Corrina
  11. "Get On Down"-Joseph Kenny Dope
  12. "SuperKat"-Kenny Dope
  13. "Award Tour"-A Tribe Called Quest
  14. "Swamp Fever"-John Cameron
  15. "Alphabet Aerobics"-Blackalicious
  16. "This Place"-DJ Trax
  17. "It's A Latin Thing"-Freddy Fresh
  18. "Aim"-Underground Crownholders
  19. "Catchwrecka"-Deckwrecka
  20. "Sand Steppin"-Martin Brew
  21. "Overooped"-Smokers Blend
  22. "Pick Me Up"-Deadbeats
  23. "Chocolate"-Syrup

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