Considering Kenny Dixon Jr., aka Moodyman has been producing and mixing for over two decades, it is somewhat surprising he’s never made a commercial mix…that is until now. The Detroit house legend has been chosen, and obliged, to mix the 52nd edition of !K7’s iconic DJ-Kicks series and it’s certainly interesting.
Moodymann is known for his unique (read: doesn’t give a ****) style of mixing and appreciation of diverse, but resoundingly soulful music. The latter being exquisitely demonstrated by the releases of his iconic label Mahogani Music. When DJing you’ll often hear him flitting between musical extremes; witnessing Moodymann mix is as interesting, and sometimes bizarre, as it is entertaining.
KDJ’s DJ Kicks is released both as a 30-track CD collection and slightly abridged vinyl release. Self-described as having a “libidinous, blues-drenched mood”. He’s combined soul, hip-hop, house and a couple of curveballs, some staples in his sets and a mere 11 exclusive Moodymann edits. It’s not entirely uplifting, by no means an incessant auto-pilot party, and at times downright odd.
Unsurprisingly the mix starts off subtly smooth, a laid back feel that eases you in with the aid of Brownswood Recording’s beautiful cello and horn drenched release, Yaw – ‘Where Would You Be’ and neo-soul and R&B legend Cody Chesnutt’s wistful ‘Serve This Royalty’. The fervent flow of Dopehead on ‘Guttah Guttah’ then follows and the jazz end of the hip-hop spectrum continues with London producer Jitwam on ‘Keepyourbusinesstoyourself’.
After a warming seven track intro, drums and synths really kick in, with an unexpected, but enthusiastically welcomed Jai Paul ‘BTSU’, which still hasn’t lost its appeal to dazzle. From Old School to New School, Little Dragon to Nightmares on Wax, Kenny’s got it covered. Some eagerly-awaited smut starts to make an appearance on a Platinum Piep Piper remix of ‘Can’t Hold Back’ by Rich Medina and Sy Smith. Short-lived hotness, however, as what seems suitably described as the mix’s creepy segment starts to float in, with the menacing jingle of ‘Stained Glass Fresh Frozen’ by Julien Dyne and the eerie cosmic sound of Little Dragon’s ‘Come Home’.
Don’t be scared though, Moodyman’s just playing with his namesake, before twisting into the smokin’ afro-percussion of Andrés – ‘El Ritmo De Mi Gente’ and then BOOM! its party time, with some feel good Fort Knox. Seemingly fully into the house beat, nothing demonstrates his aforementioned unpredictable stye of mixing more than an acoustic interlude, courtesy of José González.
In this mix Moodymann shows off his breadth of musical tastes, but also affirms his disregard of any strict policy when it comes to putting records together. Taking a step back with Big Muff’s 1990s downtempo classic ‘My Funny Valentine’, Kenny then leaps forward again with one of the first releases of Toro y Moi’s dance music moniker, Les Sins; a regular visitor in Moodymann DJ set, ‘Grind’ lifts us back into the grooving mood that he had let us momentarily dangle in.
The pulse stays raised, for a good seven tracks now, with Tirogo’s ‘Disco Maniac’, the worldly ‘Tag Team Traingle’ by SLF & Merkin and some serious pumping house by New York’s homeboy, Joeski, featuring the longing vocals of Jesánte on ‘How Do I Go On’. Continuing to raise the heat, Sandy Rivera’s sexy and lustful mix of Kings of Tomorrow ‘Fall For You’ and the sunshine groove of Soulful Session and Lynn Lockamy’s old school vocals on ‘Hostile Takeover’ sink in. God knows how many babies Moodymann has helped make.
Despite some other curveballs along the way – including the spoken word and piano of Anne Clark – Moodymann ends his mix on a committed assortment of lovely house, as if to make it very clear where his true allegiance lies. For the home stretch, he enlists fellow 3 Chairs member Marcellus Pittman, a bouncing ode in Lady Alma’s ‘Its House Music’ and finally Daniela La Luz’s scrumptious ‘Did You Ever’. Unlike how he eased us into the mix with soft soul and mellow jazz, Moodymann finishes a strong, resounding beat. The end feels like just the beginning, but then that is Moodymann for you: permanently playing, never letting anyone off easily, always relevant and affirmatively here to stay on our dancefloors and in our ears for a long long time.