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Pitchfork: Blaqstarr – Divine EP

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My review of Blaqstarr’s Divine EP is up, and though it’s much different than his club production, it’s still really good. Take some time with it please. Discussing the EP with friends, my point of comparison was often James Blake–for better and worse. James Blake also happened to be reviewed on Pitchfork today (it’s an excellent review by Grayson Currin) and it’s fun to just look at the site today and see the two similar covers and think of the ways these guys are kinda doing the same thing. Both are moving on the same path (from producer of regional dance music, to a singer-songwriter informed by that regional dance music), and they’re making similar-sounding music too, so give Divine EP a chance.

In the video for “Shake It to the Ground”, from 2007’s Supastarr EP, DJ Blaqstarr hides in the corners of the frame, dreadlocked and blunted, wearing a Marvel Zombies Captain America t-shirt. He sleepily looks on as teenage rapper Rye Rye runs circles around his cluttered, manic beat. On the cover of Divine EP, nearly four years later, the Baltimore club producer is front and center, shirtless and mohawked, almost cherubic-looking. Probably still blunted. And he has removed “DJ” from his name, signaling the shift from game-changing maker of club music to experimental bedroom producer.

For Bmore club obsessives, Blaqstarr’s move away from rapid-fire dance music is a bit like OutKast’s André 3000 starting to sing: a master abandoning his field of expertise for some brassy musical indulgence. Even Blaqstarr’s 2006 regional hit “Ryda Girl” is stripped of its frenetic dance elements here (and retitled “Rider Girl”). Anybody familiar with the original can’t help but view Divine EP’s softer version as a bit of a buzz-kill. But for the many, many more who never heard “Ryda Girl”, and never heard of Blaqstarr at all, the stumbling interplay of dancing synths, plucked bass, and Blaq’s naïve croon are enough to make it transcendent. For most, it doesn’t need those trademark Bmore club claps…

Written by Brandon

February 9th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Blaq Starr, Pitchfork

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