The mashup is a decadent, triumphant symbol of the digital age's too-deep pool of influences.
Before the internet, you had to save your pennies and hunt down sounds (and information about them) like a bounty hunter. Before electricity, you straight up had to wait until someone with an instrument came along. But these days, songs are building blocks unto themselves, the basic unit from which edits, remixes, and -- yes -- mashups are made.
TenDJiz is a Russian expatriate and South Florida-based DJ with mashups on his mind. And he's especially interested in pairing the sounds and styles of his motherland with the old-school rhythm and lyrical playfulness of feel-good early-'90s hip-hop.
Two years ago, TenDJiz moved to Miami from Saint Petersburg, Russia. In the '90s, he produced "a huge Russian rap hit, which became the first rap song to play on Russia's mainstream TV channels and radio stations." His success continued with a number of collaborations with hip-hop artists that have won top awards at Russian MTV Music Awards, and commissioned work for TV commercials and video game soundtracks. In Miami, he works as a producer and sound engineer at TenDJiz Miami Studio.
His latest mix -- De La Soulviet, streaming in entirety below -- is a head-on meeting of his old life with his new. If you thought Paul McCartney jamming behind Hova was a novel idea, wait till you hear Russian session players behind one of America's finest funky-fresh posi-rap ensembles.
Crossfade: What are "the Soviet Union soul and jazz" samples? Obviously, it's soul and jazz recordings from the USSR. But any specific records?
I'm a digger of Soviet grooves and I have a big vinyl collection with jazz musicians such as George Garanian and his band Melodia, Boris Frumkin, Aleksey Kozlov, and a bunch of soundtracks with Soviet music.
I was the first producer in Russia who started to sample Soviet jazz/soul in hip-hop music. Also, I played Soviet soul grooves under the pseudonym DJ Soulviet.
What inspired the pairing? Why De La Soul with Soviet jazz?
In 1990, when I heard 3 Feet High and Rising, it was like the Grand Revolution to me. That album inspired me to become a hip-hop musician so I began to create my first beats using just Amstrad four-track cassette portastudio and vinyl from my attic. Since then I've produced over 100 tracks and mixed several thousands of songs for the other artists.
When I moved to Miami, I've got an idea to blend two different cultures: American hip-hop and Soviet Union jazz/soul.
How did you pair songs with instrumentals? Any particular instances of being satisfied with the lyrical content synching up with the vibe of the music?
In "Trouble in the Water," De La Soul memorized things they did when they were kids. So I used a song with a similar idea and a title that translates to English as "Childhood."
For "Shoomp," I've sampled a jazz interpretation of the biggest Russian folk song "Polyushko-Polye" because Sean Paul's accent slightly reminds me of an old southern Russian dialect.
In the hook of "Stakes Is High," I used the sample of a male singer who holds a long note that sounds like "Hi-i-i-igh." I just pitched that sample up and tuned it to the main key.