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Baltimore Club Week: DJ Excel Listens To Metal

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-DJ Excel “Open the Doors (Alright)”

When I first heard this song on DJ Excel’s MySpace a bunch of months ago, it was that warm, rolling bassline that kicks the song off that grabbed my ears. It’s sort of bluesy and Southern soul-sounding, like it was swiped from a Booker T & the MGs or Willie Mitchell recording. Not the kind of thing usually stuffed inside of a Baltimore Club track at all, but it’s perfectly integrated and throughout the song, Excel chops and turns it every which way, moving it about as far away from it’s original sound as possible. It stops and stutters to meet-up with a Jim Morrison sample, it’s turned backwards into a Disco-y, quasi-dance punk bass riff, and it’s stuck late in the song into super-tiny pieces to be a slab of pulsing bass for atmosphere.

Slowly though, the bassline’s original source hit me. Again, I assumed it was just identifiable as one of the hundreds of STAX records that’ve imprinted themselves in my brain but then I realized it was the fucking outro bassline from proto-doom metal/Stoner Metal Gods Sleep; their song “Dragonaut”, the devastating opening track to their album Holy Mountain! Or was it? I e-mailed Excel who indeed verified the source.

-Sleep “Dragonaut” off Sleep’s Holy Mountain

Maybe you recognize “Dragonaut” from the movie Gummo

From Crunk and all that it took from and inspired (that was more than five years ago now!), to stuff like “Party Like a Rock Star”, and even Baltimore’s own Blaq Starr calling last year’s release King of Roq, there’s been a focus in party music towards the aggressive sounds of metal, but Excel instead, treats Sleep’s music like any other sample for a club song: Something to sample and rearrange and totally fuck around with. It’s used with the same disinterest in convention and open-mindedness as the Jim Morrison vocals or the sped-up Manzarek organ that also pops-up throughout.

As pretty much every terrible article on Baltimore Club will joke about, there’s a lot of yelling on Club tracks. Either the artists themselves or samples, namely Lil Jon right now and before that, DMX and Mystikal. Here, Excel employs the voice of another classic yell-er, Jim Morrison and uses Morrison’s gutteral ad-libs and classic “Break on through” croon the same way others use a Lil Jon “Yeeeaaahhhhh!”.

-DJ Excel “Skratch Break” off The Underground Files: The Prequal

There’s also this interlude from Excel’s excellent hip-hop mixtape–emphasis on the mix part, this is an incredible, forward moving mix of throwback-style hip-hop–which samples the interlude “Embryo” off Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality. As a shout-out by the Lords of the Underground plays-out, Excel loops a small part of the “Embryo” turning it into an angular, looping riff, before letting it play-out identifiably over some heavy drums of death.

-Black Sabbath “Embryo” off Master of Reality

Check out DJ Excel’s My Space for some exclusive tracks–especially his version of “Love Lockdown” and an insane 11 minute mix called ” Bmore A.D.D” (is that a Notwist sample I hear in there, Excel?)–his blog, 41yo, and as always, his label is BMore Original Records.

Written by Brandon

October 14th, 2008 at 3:02 am

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