Mixed Reviews: DJ Nikoless & DJ Pratt-The Experience Chapter 18 Vol 1 & 2

July 11, 2011 6 min read

DOWNLOAD DJ NIKOLESS & DJ PRATT "The Experience Chapter 18, Volume 1 & " (180 Minutes of Music)!!!

In the previous edition of "Mixed Reviews" I spoke about what inspired me to start DJing in general. From there, starting to record mixtapes was just a natural process. Plus at the time, in the mid 90s, Mixtapes were HUGE! Before the popularity of mixtapes, the way the average listener found out about the latest music was by going to parties to hear the DJs spin. That later was supported by the rise of Hip Hop radio shows in the 80s with Mr Magic, Red Alert, Chuck Chill Out, Greg Mack, Lady B,World Famous Supreme Team, Zulu Beats, Awesome Two, etc... By the time the 90s hit, Mixtapes were a prominent means of how people learned about new music. I suppose the biggest differences of the Mixtapes vs the Parties & Radio Shows was that the listener owned the tape and could explore the music at their leisure. Plus the tapes often had the playlist so you could actually find out who was behind the music. Personally, I was a fiend for new mixtapes and was always on the hunt for new joints from DJ Shame, Rob One, Kool DJ EQ, K Shaw, Molemen, CMB, Jackboy, 1200 Hobos, and so on...

When entering the mixtape world I already knew there were a few different ways I could approach it; 1)Focus on all the newest/latest cuts, 2)a 4-Track multi-layered well-produced piece, 3)a turntablist scratch, juggle and trick mix onslaught or 4)A Concept Tape. Being that I lacked the skills for #3, was already hard at work on a #2 with DeeJay Bird's "Beneath The Surface"*, and #1 felt like the easy road, I decided to go with #4; The Concept. That has always been my style. Plus, concepts were one of the key reasons that my radio show, Time Travel, was pretty popular.

Drawing from that, I had just completed doing one of my favorite concepts ever on the show. I dedicated 18 weeks to take listeners on a audio voyage thru the evolution of Hip Hop. We started with a split show of 1979/1980 and then for the next 17 weeks we chronologically focused on the the next years in Hip Hop up to 1997. I had never heard of anyone doing something like that and I was excited to do it, with the assistance of DeeJay Bird and the Time Travel Crew.

While I was working on those shows I had the brainstorm that we should do a corresponding mixtape series. The biggest challenge for me was limiting the song selection to just one mixtape to represent a whole year. The idea of leaving some songs out drove me crazy. It was easier to do on a 3 hour radio show than a 90 minute tape. In any event, I decided I would make my first mixtape project based on that concept. However, rather than start at the beginning, I would start in the present time with 1997 and then just go back and do various years at random. It ended up that I never went back to do any of the preceding years unfortunately**. Although, two years later I would do a Double 90 Minute Cassette solo project titled, "The Experience: Chapter 20" for the year 1999.

I also liked the idea of being subliminal about it. No where on the tape does it list the year 1997. It's called the "The Experience: Chapter 18" because the listener is experiencing music from the 18th year of recorded Hip Hop on wax (although technically it's the 19th year, but I lumped '79/'80 together because of the somewhat limited releases in '79 to work with).

This project was a joint effort from me*** and DJ Pratt. I met Pratt while we were working at Target together. We discovered that we shared a similar taste in Hip Hop. He was a younger cat, but was interested in learning about the history and dedicated to becoming a DJ. As I recall, part of the reason why he got the 2nd job at Target was to buy some Technic turntables. I had told him that when he got his turntables I would give him a crate of records to start off with. During that time, we kicked it hardcore on the regular; listening to rap, practicing DJing, going to rap shows, talking to ladies, clowning on fools and whatever else. He had also become the co-host on the radio show, Time Travel. When it came time to do The Experience, he had been putting a lot of work behind the tables and I was really impressed with how quick his skills were elevating so I figured it was a great time to introduce him to the mixtape world as well, so we aligned forces on this one. Not to mention, that I didn't have any turntables yet so I had to record it at his apartment so he was going to be there anyway...ha.

We recorded The Experience on my Tascam 688 8-Track recorder, which records to cassette tape. For the higher quality sound, the tape records at a higher speed than normal playback so a 90 minute tape gets you about 24 minutes of time. Based on that Pratt and I each did 4 mixes and even-though that was enough material for our own 90 minute tape and we could have just done a volume each, for some reason we decided to spread them out amongst the two tapes. The project never had a tape cover and I can't remember if we ever did a playlist so basically there was no clear distinction of who did what. Listening to it now, I'm not even completely sure what mixes are mine in a couple cases. I assume it's all part of my knack for being mysterious...ha.

I originally was going to write out a playlist for these tapes now, but every time I started listening I would get sidetracked and miss songs and couldn't remember song titles so I gave up on that so that I could get this post up. What you have here is a pretty solid overview of who was dropping gems in 1997. There's a lot of music here, including some great Chicago underground stuff and a range of Indie & Major label releases. Represented are; Sauce Money, Eminem, Scienz Of Life, Cella Dwelas, Cage, Adagio!, Godfather Don, Company Flow, Swollen Members, Tony Da Skitzo, Saafir, Frankenstein, L Fudge, Rakim, Living Legends, Styles Of Beyond, K Borne, JEL, CVE, Abstract Rude, Street Smartz, Primeridian, Vakill, Molemen, Juice, Common, EC, Atmosphere, Cannibus, Definite Vacation 4 Suckas, Siah, Live Poets, Greaty Deity Dah, Shabazz The Disciple, Lord Jamar, RA The Rugged Man, MF Doom, Sadat X, Organized Konfusion, O.C., The Lixx, Labtekwon, Jemini The Gifted One, Jedi Mind Tricks, Natural Elements, 7L & Esoteric, Smoothe The Hustler, Trigga The Gambler, Dres of Black Sheep, The High & The Mighty, IG Off & Hazadous, Defari, Latyrx, Indelible MCs, Virtuous, SIr Menelik, Masta Ace, K-otix, Reflection Eternal, Mos Def, Chill Rob G, Kardinall Offishall, D.I.T.C, Kirk, Kool Kim, Heiro, Rasco, Attica Blues, Jurassic 5, Rascalz, Choclair, Non Equation, All Natural, Wu-tang Clan, Redman, Craig G, Lonnie B,etc...

As for the mix, it's by no means perfect, but I think it's a decent debut. I hadn't listened to this in probably about 10 years. There were several things I heard, upon my re-listen, that I I have no idea why I did them that way. There were many blends that sounded so good I had to make mental notes to do those when spinning out live.  Then there were definitely some things that could have been better. I woul say that moving forward from this, everything J Pratt and myself did was much better. In essence the title grew to serve another purpose, because we both learned much from The Experience...

*DeeJay Bird "Beneath The Surface" Classic mixtape coming to Mixed Reviews soon! Find out why this mixtape is
important on multiple levels, stay tuned...

**Several years later, DJ Revolution put out his "Class Of '85" Mixtape focused on a year and that pretty much killed the idea for me because I figured people would just assume that I got the idea from him, so I deaded the concept. Maybe I should bring it back to life now though....hmmmm....

***It just occurred to me that this mix was done before I had the name Nikoless Skratch. I was just listed as AMC on here, the name I had been going by since about '84 or so, standing for "Amazing MC Coolie"...Old School you suckas... :)

MIXED REVIEWS: Will be an on-going column dedicated to dropping ‘90s mixes that were mainly available only on cassette tape. Expect joints from myself, my crew, close associates, as well as some of the heavy hitters and unsung heros...

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