DJ Craze has had two musical identities since he began peppering his hip-hop sets with drum and bass tracks in the late Nineties. Unlike those heady bygone days of turntablism, now he usually keeps his personas separate. And, save for a fleeting track or two, he serves up mostly mainstream hip-hop during his residency sets at Nocturnal. When it comes time to spin at a local breakbeat event, he'll pull out his drum and bass cuts, occasionally adding an a cappella or rap cut to spice up the mix. This polarization extends even to his mix CDs. On his 2003 disc, Rugged Radio Saturday, he chopped up several tracks from the underrated Canadian hip-hop label Audio Research. But on Miami Heat there's nary a rapper in sight, just 24 cuts of madness, which he embellishes with guttural scratches.
For the most part, drum and bass, much like mainstream hip-hop, is long past its heyday as a progressive music culture, and a cursory encounter with it today usually uncovers yards and yards of hardcore. To his credit, Craze takes time to add songs that have some semblance of melody beyond minimalist, repetitive keyboard licks, though they rarely last long. Total Science's "Going in Circles" opens with an atmospheric wash, replete with an R&B singer, before dropping into a buzzing mash of cymbal hits. For the next several cuts it's one bass-distorted crusher after another, including Distorted Minds' admirably aggressive "Stay Focused." Maybe Craze titled this CD Miami Heat for a reason: In these parts, kids don't carry glowsticks, they carry burners. -- Mosi Reeves
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