Turns out mixtapes aren't just for rappers. But British critical darling Dan Black, who recently played to a somewhat unappreciative crowd at LIV, doesn't have much use for genre constraints. A rare pop singer (to try to label him simply) who creates his own compositions, he travels easily between electro, R&B, and a grab bag of other citified sounds.
The dance and urban music worlds have long freely commingled in his native England. Now that they're finally doing so in earnest on this side of the Atlantic, it's time for truly 21st century artists like Black.
And if the straight mash-up -- just slapping one vocal over another beat -- is still 2006, well, Black's dragged the idea into this decade. Consider his new mixtape Weird Science as a teaser for his upcoming album, Un, due out February 16.
At least, it'll give you an idea of his free-form palette of styles. Weird Science is itself a combination type project, with Black singing covers of pop classics over the warped or sped up beats of others. In his distinct Anglo croon, he tackles numbers as wide-ranging as Dizzee Rascal's "Stand Up Tall" and Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark."
The standout here, though, is probably "Gorecki Fix Up My Girlfriend."
As the title indicates, he's taken Lamb's slightly syrupy downtempo
song "Gorecki" and flipped it, making it ten times more ominous. Over
the top, then, he sings out the lyrics for Busta Rhyme's "Gimme Some
More." (Yeah, just about every other word in those is "nigga," so Black
has thankfully replaced them with "brother.") It all works, coming
together as some next-level mournful ballad.
In the battle of
upcoming British electronic pop singers, I really hope Dan Black ends
up wiping his butt with the overhyped, AutoTuned, middle-of-the-road
Mr. Hudson. Get the Weird Science tracks below.
Dan Black Weird Science mixtape:
MP3: 2. "Slave to Paper"
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Dan Black, at Ultra Music Festival on Friday, March 26. Bicentennial Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Gates open at 4 p.m. Tickets currently cost $139.95 for a two-day general admission ticket, and $350 for a two-day VIP ticket. Prices will go up, and single-day tickets will be announced. Visit ultramusicfestival.com for updated ticket info.