you may not know. Many so-called deejays in the hip-hop industry-the mixtape
game to be specific-have no skills. Many of these cats can't mix, can't blend.
Shit, they can't even scratch. But few, two quicker to mind than others, do
that all and produce. They are mixtape DJ's who lay out bangers. Clinton Sparks
is one, coming along way since 1998: from writing skits and sketches for commercial
radio; creating and mixing his own internet mix show; to finally gaining that
attention he deserves, becoming the first DJ to ever have live radio at 3 different
stations in 3 different states. Clinton's far from the current download DJ.
Last year, dude was named 2004 Radio DJ of the Year, and who can forget the
mixtapes Kill Yourself with Kay Slay or Coast Control with Warrior? Did I forget
to mention Smashtime on Sirius radio? Aight, aight. All the credentials are
there-great. So, how's this fuckin' tape? Clinton Sparks produces the disc and
does all the scratches for the heaviest hitters in the game. Actually, Sparks'
best is yet to come, as Maybe You Been Brainwashed is a teaser, per se, more
like a compilation of better material from 2005 'til his official debut is releases
later. Tracks like "Run This City," the epic P. Diddy scorcher, which
pack a mean loop and tension-building violin act from Miri Ben-Ari, have been
bled to death and no one's to complain. Hell, if Puffy's latest signings can't
get the job done why not pop off ya self! Don't stop. "Underground Legend"
is another favorite of mine, showcasing the freestyle talents of Houston's Lil'
Flip over scorching cuts, a stomping drum line, and them "Flip" chants
that have become a normality in his outings. Much like this joint, Clinton's
production bends the line between old school and the current commercial state.
No finer example than the very Neptunes-like (but not so much a cheap rip-off)
"Where You Been" for Clipse, bouncing clubby grooves to sparse handclaps,
piping synths, and rattling effects.
been labeled a commercial DJ for blending popular Rap and R&B on his discs
in addition to playing these acts on his Smashtime programs. To answer those
cynics, Maybe You Been Brainwashed (well, there you go) spotlights rappers who
only speak the streets; artists Mobb Deep, Freeway, and CNN even appear twice.
"Okay Dun" and "Bidadidat" capture a hungry Havoc and Prodigy
over Scarface (the flick)-influenced sounds not heard since Murda Muzik. Hell
on earth again when the M-O-B-B keep with the hunger. "State Prop Boyz"
is another banger, spotlighting Free and Young Chris over hesitant loops, handclaps
and chipmunked-out samples that should have no problem hitting hoods. Again,
Clinton's production is nothing new, or really all that inventive; it's more
a blend of tradition and mass appeal. The use of Latin trumpet samples and cartoon
take-offs behind the "ROC Café" allow Bleek, Beans and Buddens
to represent the new state of the Roc, with an amusing Jay-Z vocal to boot.
Not all goes well, as tracks like "Pop Shots" from the late ODB (sorry,
Premo's version makes this one seem so silly); Black Rob's "Knock
Em Out" takes generic to the next level in both beat and rhyme; and Kardinal
Offishal's "Hater Bug" is buggin me to hate. Handsnaps and gunshots
become redundant; beats sometimes too bare. It couldn't get any more different
on "Whatever It Takes," however, taking Joe Budden to a newly high
lyrical and introspective level for 7-minutes over an enjoyable soulful backdrop.
Flipmode's return over raw breaks and ruthless scratching is a good showing
of Clinton's roots. But even as the times change, this DJ certainly remembered
to *kiddie voice* get familiar, suckas.