THE RUB with DJ AYRES , DJ ELEVEN and COSMO BAKER at Supermarket (268 Augusta), Friday (August 26). $10. 416-840-0501.
Mashup. The word itself strikes fear in the heart of the purist, suggesting unholy, inappropriate musical unions. The term, conceived to describe bizarre Internet-borne bootlegs like the Freelance Hellraiser's groundbreaking A Stroke Of Genius (Christina Aguilera + the Strokes), has become ubiquitous over the past several years, as has the technique of combining a cappella voice A with instrumental B to create something new.
For The Rub (aka DJs Eleven, Ayres and Cosmo Baker), the mashup has been a ticket to success. Riding high on the popularity of their It's The Motherfucking Remix mix tape and well-attended monthly party, the Brooklyn DJ crew (originally hailing from Oakland, Mississippi and Philadelphia respectively) have been blessed with exposure from high-profile publications like the New York Times focusing on their open-ended style. They've also started a label to release their own mashups on vinyl for like-minded DJs.
Ayres explains their philosophy of blends over a conference call from NYC.
"We figure if you've got two good songs worth playing in a night, you might as well just play them together. It's not necessarily about shocking people with weird combinations, it's about ensuring the party goes off."
The Rub approach the mashup from a DJ's perspective, as only one element of an eclectic style born of years of experience, fervent record collecting and the working DJ's imperative to rock the party by whatever means necessary.
In fact, the Rub are part of a remix continuum that goes deep. Anyone following hiphop releases knows that this kind of recombinant style isn't revolutionary; it's integral to the culture. That's why hiphop singles have always come with separate a cappella and instrumental sides.
New York labels like AV8 have built extensive catalogues out of hiphop and reggae blends, re-edits and mashups. There's a whole grey market made up of bootlegs and mixtapes that's only recently begun to see mainstream exposure.
The thing that separates DJs like the Rub from the pack is the breadth of material they're willing to take on. When asked what the Toronto crowd can expect, they enthuse about the return of vocal reggae, Young Jeezy's new album and Sylvester's Do You Wanna Funk.
At the end of the day, it's all about the party.
"When we tour we really like having a whole night for ourselves," explains Cosmo Baker, a self-professed "old music" guy. "We've worked out a system of when to play at what time. We like the whole event to be nicely sequenced. It'll be like our party in New York."