Really, I couldn’t care less about the game – I’ve been sort of a Madden guy anyway – but the soundtrack has me amped: 13 original tracks, remixes and mashups, all produced by Z-Trip (formerly of this here Valley, I might add). Guests include Slug, Dead Prez, Chalia 2na and Aceyalone. And, oh, one more guest MC? Rakim for Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em 2007.
Z’s return got me thinking about a Q&A I did with him a couple years back after the release of his debut LP Shifting Gears. I asked him if he was sick of the term “mashup,” a trade he helped pioneer. He made an interesting metaphor, comparing bedroom DJs to chili in a can and turntablists to chili masters.
It’s a valid point. The advent of technology has democratized the art of DJing, which is either a blessing or a curse … or both. We go to so many “DJ nights,” where the DJs are playing CDs or playlisting from an iPod. I’m not saying this to be a snob or an elitist, but what some people are doing with the help of software on a computer, guys like Z-Trip do live, with vinyl. (Witness DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist performing a set last week using solely 45s.)
I’m hoping to catch up with Z-Trip to see if he’s embraced programs like Serato, which allows for manipulation of digital files (it’s a hell of a lot lighter than crates of records).
I guess it comes down to what your definition of a DJ is. A friend who uses Serato – quite capably, too – prefers a broad definition: anyone who keeps people dancing be it with records, CDs, iPods, whatever. And I wouldn’t disagree with that. So am I being too much of a traditionalist/elitist/snob to say bedroom DJs have watered down the idea of what turntablism is? Or are turntablists and DJs two separate groups? (You’d probably not be surprised to know I oppose the designated hitter, too.) Maybe I sound like that grumpy old man character played by Dana Carvey on SNL: “I’m old and I’m not happy. Everything today is improved and I don’t like it! In my day we didn’t have these mp3s … ” Needless to say, I’d probably struggle to beat match and chew gum at the same time if a computer were doing both for me.
Please comment away. And do so while listening to this new Z-Trip cut, which contains some impressive beat juggling near the end.
Z-Trip (feat. Chali 2na) | Something Different
Check out more Z-Trip downloads at his Web site.