DJ Excel: Singles and Remixes
Between taking something of a leave of absence from Baltimore's music scene that ended just a couple of years ago and a stubborn, refreshing refusal to corner himself in one genre, it feels like DJ Excel is running at a disadvantage compared to other DJs/producers around town. Or, at least he's catching up--which, given that he's among the big names of Baltimore club's first wave, is weird. In any case, he's shaking up the worlds of both hip-hop (producing tracks for E Major's ruling Majority Rules, among many others) and club mightily. In club, last year brought the Friday Night Bounce album and Soundcheck EP, which contained the buzzed about "That's What a Pimp Does." Now, Excel drops this tack-sharp and plenty odd/progressive collection, Singles and Remixes. (All are released digital-only on Excel's own label and online radio hub Bmore Originals.)
It's the singles that really hit home, with "Bmore A.D.D." and "Pop That Kitty" standing tall. The prior is an 11-and-a-half-minute club demi-opus that feels a bit more of a mashup in the Girl Talk sense than the Baltimore club sense, with a grubby alterna-rock guitar line bedrocking a stitching-together of beats that shifts back and forth between hip-hop and a club breakbeat, resolving into some Auto-Tune (much Auto-Tune on this record) and a cribbed Master Ace verse, "I got the sound the whole world listen to" (one of at least three tracks Excel samples for just rap samples on this one song.) It has a few seriously long, gutsy breaks making the track feel more like a mix than what you'd normally tag a "single." And it's ADD as all hell.
"Pop That Kitty" is another proper entry into the hopefully growing realm of hip-hop/club hybrid (see also: 410 Pharaohs) with Baltimore MC Remstarr contributing verses (and a sort of R&B chorus, in Auto-Tune) to a very cool club track built around steel drums. Excel also delivers a couple of novelty remixes including "Gurls Wanna" ("Girls Just Want To Have Fun") and an MC sing-song riff on "Mony, Mony." The remixes are fine and good, but feel more like an addendum to the originals, which is probably how it should be.