DJ HANGMAN'S Decade MIX CD RElease PArty with DJ DOPEY, DJ FASE, 2 Swift Household, J-TEC, FIsher Nice and Circle Research at NASA Dance Pub (609 Queen West), Tuesday (February 4). Free. 416-504-8356. Rating: NNNNN
The crackdown on sales of hiphop and mix tapes and discs hasn't halted their distribution -- it's just shifted control of their flow from independent operators to major labels. That seems to have been the real goal all along.
Toronto's Needleworks posse member DJ Hangman -- best known as D-Sisive's deck wrecker -- is boldly bucking the system with his new self-released Decade (Needleworks Entertainment) mix disc. Sidestepping the usual licensing red tape, Hangman has cut up a head-nodding set built around Native Tongues and Hieroglyphics crew party-rocking classics from the 90s.
Although Hangman says he didn't plan on making an "old-school" mix, the good-time vibe he was after naturally led him from current Blackalicious and OutKast bangers back to his best-loved De La Soul and Funkdoobiest joints.
"I wasn't really interested in using the currently popular tracks or exclusives to sell my disc," explains Hangman. "These songs by Madkap, Funkdoobiest and Del Tha Funky Homosapien are just some of my favourite tracks. I've been a huge Hiero fan forever.
"The main thing was that I wanted it to be fun. People don't seem to understand how to have fun with hiphop any more. That's why I love Missy Elliott's new record. She's not trying to save the world -- it's just fun stuff that makes me wanna get up and shake my ass."
There's more than a good time in store with Hangman's Decade mix. The Hiero mini-set shows a cleverness and cutting finesse rarely demonstrated by your average bedroom mix-tape mook trying to make a quick buck off a hot track or an otherwise unavailable freestyle by a popular rapper.
"Even though some people are gonna complain about the lack of exclusives, I'll guarantee you've never heard anything like this.
"You know, I'm not just mixing four bars of one song into another. Every sound, every syllable you hear in that Casual segment was chopped and cut from Casual records. It took me forever to find all those little bits and put them together."
Despite the turntable artistry involved, it's likely the major labels and their legal representatives will see Hangman's Decade disc as nothing more than illegal copyright infringement that robs the artists of their hard-earned royalties. But Hangman takes a different view.
"The mix tape (or mix disc) is really the oldest form of hiphop street promotion. Having a track on a Hangman CD isn't going to hurt an artist's sales; if a kid hears the track and likes it, he'll buy the rapper's album. That's how it works.
"If an artist like Guru or Del didn't like the idea of me putting their tracks on my disc, they wouldn't have done drops for me, saying, 'Yo, what up!' And they know darn well that somebody like me ain't gonna get the proper licensing done to use their tracks. It's all about labels making money." TIM PERLICH