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Special Blends Vol 1&2
Public Enemy, De La Soul, M.O.P., Ghostface, Gangstarr, Nas, Erykah Badu, Jeru The Damaja, Raekwon, Beatnuts… It’s hard not to be impressed by the track listing
Public Enemy, De La Soul, M.O.P., Ghostface, Gangstarr, Nas, Erykah Badu, Jeru The Damaja, Raekwon, Beatnuts… It’s hard not to be impressed by the track listing of these two MF Doom mix CDs. But big names only get you so far, especially when you’re remixing some of their most famous tracks.
Doubly especially when you’re only using their acapellas over your own beats. Public Enemy’s ‘Bring the Noise’ without it’s original screeching samples? Nas’ ‘One Love’ without the laid back xylophone? M.O.P.’s ‘Ante Up’ without the blaring horns? Doesn’t sound right does it? Well on Special Blends 1 & 2 it does. In fact it sounds better than that.
Often during remixes of already great songs you feel yourself wishing the originals had just been left alone. But Doom provides something so drastically different on these CDs that you find yourself forgetting about the original tracks and simply enjoying them as something new. The “he did what!?” moments come about, not because he’s butchered a Nas classic, but because he’s coupled it with a saxophone line so smooth that listening to the original may actually sounds worse.
The wailing eighties electric guitar that he mixes with Jeru’s ‘Ya Playin Yaself’ is undoubtedly a high-point and almost worth buying the albums for alone. The remix of Mobb Deep’s ‘Hell on Earth‘ is also outstanding, with plaintive violins giving the track an extra layer of poignancy.
Sure there are some unconvincing moments; Public Enemy’s ‘Hazy Shade of Criminal‘ suffers a pretty unconvincing lower tempo remix, while M.E.T.H.O.D. Man is laugh-out-loudly coupled with what sounds like elevator music. Hilarious genius in ripping out any of the original menace of the song, or just downright ludicrous? It’s up to you to decide.
Special Blends 2 is noticeably thinner in quality than 1 but overall the sheer brilliance of a) the beats and b) the MCs’ acapellas ensures that whenever one is lacking the other makes up for it. Sure Doom doesn’t rap on the record, but this is undoubtedly a classic. Not least for the variety of great tracks that it brings together and, for the most part, manages to better.
Words Fred Carnegy
MF DOOM myspace
Buy Special Blends Vol 1&2