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Full Plates: The Mix Tape, Vol. 2

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Full Plates: The Mix Tape, Vol. 2
Sounds like … Upbeat mix compilation, featuring selections from rap and R&B artists like John Reuben, Out of Eden, and Sup the ChemistAt a Glance … A high quality mix of popular urban songs destined to appease dance club regulars. However, casual fans of dance and remix music may find this to be very repetitive and poorly sequenced at times.

A remix album released in the Christian music scene is certainly a niche product, and although DJ Maj is a talented gem, the concept of this disc is either one you'll grasp in it's entirety or one you'll leave by the wayside due to its complexity. I fall in between both planes, acknowledging Maj's skills and song selections, while remaining puzzled over a few of his sequencing patterns and vocal interludes.

Before getting into what his latest batch sounds like, it's important to know that Maj was the first to put out a mix project in the Christian industry (Gotee's Wax Museum: The Mix Tape). Prior to that release, this DJ's claim to fame was the nationally syndicated "Virtual Frequency" radio show where he spun the hottest spiritually tinged urban underground music in a mix format. His inspiration came from time spent as WAY~FM network's program coordinator for their "Street Party" show from 1992 to 1997, which also boasted a mix format. Building on his strong radio resume and his considerable debut album sales, Maj now offers Full Plates: The Mix Tapes, Vol.2. Chances are you may have seen Maj already on tour in support of the album—over the spring months he's got a spot on the Plus One/Rachael Lampa/Stacie Orricio bill.

Despite his touring mates, Maj's mixing style on Full Plates doesn't have one hint of pop music, consisting of mostly rap and hip-hop content. He samples and twists around material by rappers Sup the Chemist, Knowadverbs, KJ52, and Ill Harmonics with fast-scratching turntable action. His hip-hop conglomerations include lucid transitions between John Reuben's "6 Hours from Columbus," Flynn and Joey of L.A. Symphony's "Dream World," and Out of Eden's "Sprit Moves." Such a trio of tunes stands out as Maj's best mélange, but some of his other combinations fall short of flattering accolades. Particualry, "They Don't Know" by The Fugitives, following the slowest groove on the disc, "See the Light" featuring Cross Cypha, is an awkward transition. The first is a dance-floor jam while the latter is a lot slower and even a bit more soulful in comparison.

Other parts that distracted me from the music include Maj's vocal interludes during various tracks to announce his name or the name of the record (as if those who are listening to it forgot what they put in). Hearing him interrupt the continuity of various songs and transitions throughout the album with such outbursts seems self-indulgent and takes the spotlight away from the featured artists (and the messages they're trying to communicate). Some other out-of-place elements are Maj's insertion of "shout outs," or the announcement of names of other DJs who he admires in the middle of a song. For instance, during his remix of DJ Form's "7 Factors," Maj simply recites a long list of his friends and fellow mixers right in the middle of the song. Perhaps showing thanks for over half a dozen people should have been reserved for the liner notes of the disc or for an award show upon victory in a particular category.

There's no doubt that this project will be a hit for those who bought the first. Those who don't own a remix album in their collection may want to consider Full Plates as their first. At the same time, hearing all 66 minutes of this project at once may be an earful for the less trained, and after a while such listeners may find the beats and scratches to be unbearably repetitive. A key element to mixing is catchiness, and repetition is the way to ingrain a line from a song into people's memory. After a while though, such a method can be unproductive and inspire some to press the eject button on their CD player.