Very few people can go and drop an 18-track-long record out of the blue and 1) It makes sense, and 2) all of it kicks ass. I think It takes a special kind of musician to sell that idea, especially in a world with ever-shortening attention spawns. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to be an innovator and a living legend to achieve that, but Mix Master Mike certainly is both.
Mike first came to prominence in the world of DJing in the early 90s by winning several high-profile competitions such as DJ Battle for World Supremacy in New York City and the DMC World DJ Championships, leading him to become one of the most highly respected and esteemed DJs/Turntablists in the world. Later in 1998 The Beastie Boys would recruit Mix Master Mike to Spin and scratch the hell out of their legendary “Hello Nasty” album, eventually becoming the resident DJ for the band for their subsequent records and live presentations.
Also known as “Serial Wax Killer”, Mix Master Mike has been releasing solo music since the early 90s, with “Ready Slayer One” being the seventh full-length album that he’s put out, showing great resilience and staying power both through constant self one-upping, innovation and the timeless “street” flavor of his virtuous record scratching techniques that made him an immediate force in the world of Hip-Hop, eventually earning him a grammy and a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
From the moment you gaze at the artwork for the album created by NFT artist @revilo_stuff, you know you’re in for something truly epic. The use of baroque, religious imagery prepares the ground for the imposing sound of its content: From DJ heaven he descends, the angelic Jedi-robed warrior Mike, set upon by demons that seem to reference the original Doom video game cover art, ready to be quickly disposed of by his gleaming sword.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, each song bleeds and reshapes itself into the next, and listening to it feels more like one long DJ set rather than a collection of different tunes, this makes for a very engaging listening experience that will have you marveling at each new sonic development , even forcing you to keep tabs to know which song you’re on. I said this was hardly surprising because this is very common in the style/genre it represents, but the way it’s all woven together, flowing naturally and almost entirely uninterrupted gives the album a double edge, as it allows you to either pay as much attention as you want to pick through every little layer of sound and detail, or just play it in the background while you’re driving or getting some work done; granted, as the name implies, the overall tone of “Ready Slayer One” is rather intense and beastly, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea for a working environment, but I can guarantee that you’ll be able to rip some monster reps at the gym with this baby blasting through your headphones.
“Ready Slayer One” is intro’d by White Boy Rick, and then it flourishes into a veritable onslaught of different elements from all sorts of Hip-hop soundscapes and electronic music traditions, among which my favorite presence is that of Jungle-D&B breakbeats that are sprinkled throughout its duration (they seem to come to their fullest expression in “EMRGNCY”). The whole album is really jam-packed with lots of different vibes, from grimy wubs and basslines to really strident and funky horn stabs, there’s a mind-blowing amount of rich variety in all of the textures that Mike can bring to the table, all without forgetting his background and trademark tweak scratching technique that I think brings a warm and almost nostalgic element to the album- you just don’t hear that kind of sound used very often anymore, and I think it’s a shame because not only is it a unique texture, it also brings an edgy analog element to the composition that can be just as impressive and sick as a guitar being shredded.
All in all, “Ready Slayer One” isn’t just a fantastic, high-energy piece of electronic music, but a testament to over thirty years of a brilliant and extremely influential career that feels like Mike is saying “I’m still here , I’m still at the very top and I will continue to evolve and produce stuff that will blow your mind for a long time”. You really couldn’t ask for more.
Story: LADYGUNN Photos: Courtesy of the Artist
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