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NICE UP & J STAR: Cut Ups, Bruck Ups and Muck Ups Vol. 2 – 2010 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★★

As many DJs will tell you, just because something bumps on the dancefloor doesn’t mean you want to hear it in the car or on your mp3 player – and the opposite is also true. Happy the person, then, who gets hold of this second volume from the kings of reggae mash-up/ remix-land which, like its predecessor Vol. 1 (and hopefully any future successors) run tings in both clubland and pretty much anywhere else you care to play it. Once again the main contributors are J Star (recently nabbed to remix Madness’s last single LISTEN HERE) and Nice Up label boss DJ Shepdog – though on Cut Ups…2 they’re also joined by Jeff Li (the fashion designer? Surely not?) and Brighton’s Black Grass.
The vinyl faithful, who no doubt already snapped up more than a few of these cuts when they came out as limited 45s over the last year or so, will already know the drill followed by this team of irie souljahs: basically grab either a reggae beat or a hip hop beat and put the first in bed with some manner of vocalist who’s not a reggae toaster (usually a hip-hop rapper) and the second (i.e. a non-reggae beat) in bed with a reggae toaster – either way the non-reggae element gets shown a healthy dose of Jah love.
Some of the treats available on this second crack of the whip see J Star mixing and mashing a host of skanking classic cuts with Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot, Lil Kim’s Lighters Up, and achieving the virtually impossible by providing Diana Ross with more credibility than she’s had in years. On second thoughts – make that ‘ever.’ Not to be outdone, Shepdog gives the reggae re-rub treatment to Dee-Lite, Gorillaz, and even The Nextmen and M.I.A. at the same time, the naughty boy. These boys want to watch out – sooner or later somebody will be after them to do an original. Pretty much essential.

Listen to Nice Up & J Star – Cut Ups, Bruck Us and Muck Ups Vol.2

J Star – Myspace

Nice Up – Myspace

NICE UP & J STAR: Cut Ups, Bruck Ups and Muck Ups Vol. 1 – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★★

(Read monkeyboxing.com review of Cut Ups, Bruck Ups & Muck Ups Vol. 2 HERE
Ah the mashup – refuge of the lazy DJ/ Producer or inspirational genius? It all depends on whose doing it and what the outcome is like. In the case of J Star and Nice Up DJs Shepdog and (on one track) Moodie, it’s the latter. Those who keep their eyes glued to the relevant new release pages of their favourite online record stores may well recognise the greater portion of the cuts on offer here from successive 7 and 12” releases over the last few years and if they possess a pulse will probably have snapped up a lot of them. They’ll also be familiar with the recipe. Take one classic vocal stem (usually off a hip-hop track but possibly off a dancehall or decent pop track) and graft onto the instrumental of another (usually a rocksteady or reggae track but sometimes a hip-hop track) always obeying the rule that the one does not come from the same genre as the other.
Thus we have Skankin’ In The Way of Control with Gossip singer Beth Ditto getting a rocksteady workover, as does Nas’ The Virgo and shortarse rapper Skee Lo’s I Wish. Craig Mack’s posse-cut Flava In Your Ear also gets a piggyback from Root’s Manuva’s Witness 1 Hope and Damien Marley gets to sing Welcome To Jamrock over Dead Prez’ Bigger Than Hip Hop. The collection also includes No Diggedy – basically Black Street’s No Diggity astride a reggae rhythm – J Star’s four year old grenade that really blew up the reggae/ hip-hop mash-up sound in a big way. There are a couple of exclusive new tracks (including Limb By Limb – Cutty Ranks on vocals and DJ Premier on beats anyone?) presumably to entice those who actually bought the vinyl singles though, naturally, there isn’t room on here to include the entirety of the J Star/ Nice Up back catalogues. Still, the Vol. 1 tag on the end of the title is promising and I sense a volume 2 in the offing. Oh yeah – and you get 14 sound effects including sirens, reggae toaster vocal drops and that 70s arcade game thing that (appropriately enough) sounds like a bomb dropping. Hear me now!

Listen to – NICE UP & J STAR: Cut Ups, Bruck Ups and Muck Ups Vol. 1

Nice Up – Myspace

J Star – Myspace

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