Without a doubt, this is one my all time favorite Mixtapes. I hadn’t listened to it in a while, but for well over a decade, this tape was on every road trip, got heavy Walkman action, and was in constant rotation.
Truthfully, it would probably be a very trying and difficult task, to put together a comprehensive chronology of traditional Mixtapes*. They very rarely had the years on them, but generally you can figure that out from the playlist. The bigger issue is that the distribution of most Mixtapes was very limited. Considering that, it would be quite the challenge to build that chronology, but I’d like to welcome someone to try, if only because I’d like to see it myself.
In any event, I’m pretty confident to say that DJ Shame, hailing from Massachusetts, was a Mixtape pioneer. In ’93 he dropped “Traveling Thru Sample Land” which was the first ever Original Breaks mix I heard and even after countless others offered their variations of original sample mixes, DJ Shame’s creation still ranked among the best.
Just a year later he teamed up with, Las Vegas based, Kool DJ EQ, to release the classic "Wreckord Fiendz" Mixtape. This is probably one of the first 4-track Mixtape that really opened my mind about the creative possibilities of recording Mixtape. It was completely mind-blowing. When I started to make my own 4 Track mixes a couple years later, this was a huge inspiration**.
DJ Shame handles Side A and he is a master at his craft. His word-play skills are superb and well executed. He also does a great job of covering the spectrum with a varied blend of Old School, brand new, R&B, and original breaks.
The highlights to this side are his Vinyl Reanimator remixes and his scratch interludes. Of all the remixes, I would say, the best is his flip of O.C. “Time’s Up”. This song was already becoming iconic at this point for it’s lyrical content, but also Buckwild’s intense track. DJ Shame maintains that intensity, but gives it more layers and textures. I wish I had a crisp copy of this remix, as I would definitely play this interchangeably with the original. There’s also a nice Lord Finesse “S.K.I.T.S” remix and a section of him doing some clever R&B Hip Hop remixes. Honestly, he is certainly in the high running for best Mixtape Blend Remixes of all time***.
As for his interludes, two in particular stand out. There’s a section where he gets on the mic to talk to and about the DJs who spend too much time on the mic and not on the crossfader. All the while there’s a barrage of cuts going down in the background. He concludes in saying “Real DJs talk with their hands” and calls for a “Quiet Storm” on the Mixtape circuit. The other section is his “Something Funky To Listen To” piece, which nicely segue-ways from the Big Daddy Kane vocal sample in Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “I Get Physical” into what is a glimpse of what you can expect on his “Traveling Thru Sample Land” Mixtape.
Beyond that, DJ Shame is also mighty sharp and precise when cutting doubles. This is best witnessed on him cutting up Big Red featuring Diamond D “How They Want It”, which was how I was introduced to this song and the only way I heard it for quite a while.
DJ Shame’s side ends**** with a extensive shout out list which includes a who’s who of the indie promoters of the time, which takes me back to my days of being on a wealth of different Street Teams.
Kool DJ EQ approaches his side in a similar fashion. He is most effective when he is using his Mini-Mix skills that are reminiscent to the mixes I used to hear a lot on New York radio, where there would be a constant break-beat in the background with an assembling of different cuts and songs on top. There’s a nice “Jazz It Up” piece over Doug E Fresh “The Show” where he nicely cuts in some Jazz Breaks. Later he flips a fresh “Who’s On The Microphone” section, cutting up the Heavy Dline and dropping a range of verses over a break-beat. Perhaps the most famous of these mini-mixes is his “How Many MCs In The Mix?” piece that uses Redman’s “Rockafella Remix” as the backbone and blends in verses from Sweet Tee, Buckshot Shorty, Dana Dane, & Nas.
Kool DJ EQ also drops several nice R&B remixes. Honestly, my 90s R&B knowledge is super-limited, but he concocts some perfect pairings with the likes of “Bonita Applebum”, “Flava In Your Ear”, etc…
Towards the end of the tape, EQ takes things in a new direction with a nice string of 80s classics; “Don’t Like Any Further”, “Juicy Fruit”, “Walking On Sunshine”, “Love Come Down”, & “Take Your Time”. This is just another chamber to make this one of the most well-rounded and well-done Mixtapes of all time.
Although both DJ Shame and Kool DJ EQ are extremely talented DJs, this Mixtape is obviously critical in showcasing their Production and Remix skills as well, which is where both of them seemed to switch focus to after this project. That lead to several great productions, but unfortunately I don’t know of any other mixtapes they released (besides DJ Shame’s “Traveling Thru Sample Land Vol 2).
If anyone one has any other Mixtapes by DJ Shame and Kool DJ EQ let me know! In the meantime, Download “Wreckord Fiendz” and enjoy Mixtape perfection at its finest….
Written By Kevin Beacham a.k.a DJ Nikoless Skratch
*Mind you, when I say “Mixtape”, I’m talking about a DJ working turntables and stringing together music in a variety of fashions, including blends, quick cuts and the like. This does not refer to the often-used term “mixtape” for someone just making a home compilation with a pause button or the new favored definition of a rapper just rapping over a crop of beats with no DJ nowhere in sight. Or even the "Mixtape" were a DJ just plays a bunch of new songs without any mixing, scratching or notable DJ skills included....
**Truth be told, it wasn’t so much that I was unaware of the possibilities with the 4 track. It’s moreso that when I heard this it felt like they had plugged directly into my brain and created the type of Mixtapes that I would be destined to one day make. Their approach was how I already basically thought when putting together demos, pause tapes, Etc…
***The only clear competitor in the Blend Remix debate I can think of off the top is The Cold Cutz Crew: DJ Spinbad & JS-1.
****Hindsight Observation: Upon hearing this now, I wonder if DJ Shame has just gone thru a recent break up or something, because thru out the tape he has little pieces that express some anger at woman-kind…ha. Particularly the fact that Artifacts “What Goes On”, extensively on the subject, comes in sort of isolated from other songs, towards the end of his side. Sorry, that’s just my amateur detective skills kicking in… ☺
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