Indie kids ganking radio rap is nothing new. Girl Talk’s geeky mashes of it and select hipster treasures—Neutral Milk Hotel, the Pixies, and the like—from the indie canon brought it, ridiculously, into that same canon. Ridiculous? Only because radio rap had to have that familiar, sanctioned escort to get there.
Enter OCDJ, aka Dan Gaeta, host of WFMU’s “Plug and Play” show and a member of Wham City’s inner circle. His Hooray album, released early this summer, is adorned with images of gunmen, stacks of cash, low riders . . . and rainbows shooting out like Illustrator-wrought fountains of sweet salvation. It’s a bit condescending. And as a visual for Hooray, it couldn’t get much better.
It’s a quick, simple ride of tweetronic Casio beeps and boops—imagine a roughed-up version of Jona Bechtolt’s productions for the Blow—stacked high with grubby rap cuts (Three 6 Mafia, Young Buck, Crime Mob, and plenty more) that the urban neon posse wouldn’t touch otherwise (with the exception of Kelis’ “Milk Shake,” re-imagined here as “The Milk’s Gone Bad”). Here’s the rub: Like Girl Talk’s Night Ripper, Hooray’s damn good. Yeah, hearing the shtick explained out loud is ugly, but as an aesthetic, it’s gold. Laptop music left to its lonesome—at least as far as party music is concerned—is uninspiring. Part of the proof’s in the first track, “Big Time Stuff,” naked save for bland stock beats and a couple of Casio lines. It’s boring and about as inspired as a screen saver. Even with Gaeta playing live in his giant fluffy frog getup, “Big Time Stuff” would still be some flat bloops.
He builds it up quick-like from there. On the third track, “Smoke My Cheese,” he’s dropping full spliced-and-stacked rap samples and his laptop turns white hot. His beeping melodies turn to races; bass lines swell, the beats drop harder, gain weight, and flatten small villages.
Hooray just gets better. Like the rainbows on the cover, OCDJ sucks the menace out of whatever rap he samples and turns it into laptop gas. “Wooeash” starts with a gruff, unaccompanied “you fuckin’ with them niggas/ you ’bout to get your wish,” and three-minutes of straight-out-of-Zelda joy later, you’ve forgot the thing was ever anything but a summer jam. Thievery may not be honorable, but OCDJ has proved, again, the fun’s more than worth it.